Meditation takes many forms, from ancient practices routed in deep stillness to the sort of dynamic active meditations introduced by Osho. There is a great variety of intentions or motivations too, from a simple relaxation exercise to a step towards enlightenment. But regardless of the approach or the reasons, a number of clear benefits emerge. Here are is a list of ten – maybe you can think of others:

  1. Meditation tends to reduce the heart rate and the pace of breathing. This produces a number of effects, including lower blood pressure, increased stamina for exercise, and a reduction in the negative consequences of stress.

  2. Individuals with chronic illnesses can use meditation to help manage their condition, reducing the debilitating stress associated with anxiety, pain and fear.

  3. Regular practice of mind-body exercise may help strengthen the immune system by inducing relaxation, increasing blood flow and helping eliminate free radicals, thereby avoiding cellular damage.

  4. Meditation can be a great benefit in managing a person’s response to pain. This is of particular value to individuals suffering from frequent migraines, fibromyalgia, sciatica or other conditions characterised by regular pain.

  5. Meditating on a regular basis tends to bring about improved self-esteem and a more positive outlook on life. Beyond the clearer sense of self, rooted in introspection, there are physiological factors, such as increased serotonin levels.

  6. Some persistent fears and phobias can be addressed through meditation, by reducing the automatic responses as well as providing a potential approach to the hidden origins of these difficulties.

  7. Meditation has the effect of increasing creativity, strengthening the ability to focus, and improving memory. The benefits for work life is clear. Beyond this, meditation is a time-honoured way to release the tension and stress of the workplace.

  8. Meditation tends to foster an increase in compassion, perhaps because self-awareness can increase the awareness of and empathy for others.

  9. The practice of meditation helps the individual to develop their spirituality, their connection with the divine. The spiritual side of a person is often ignored or overlooked in today’s world.

  10. Meditation brings consciousness into the present moment, pushing aside judgements of the past and anxieties for the future. Being focussed on the present, what is happening here and now, is what meditation is all about. It ultimately gives freedom from the relentless preoccupations of the busy mind, which is so often focussed anywhere but on the now.