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Is daily meditation really necessary?

While it's tempting to dismiss it as boring and faddish, the research continues to stack up on the benefits of daily meditation. It's definitely worth your while to find time in your day to tap into this unexpected health elixir.


Meditation may seem like the latest fad in a long line of health crazes (acai berry or coffee enema, anyone?), but the practise has been around since ancient Vedic times. According to Vedic science, the true purpose of meditation is simply to connect with one’s deep inner self.

Well, ‘simply’ may be a misleading choice of words. As anyone who is new to meditation will tell you, sitting quietly is actually a very complex thing to do. For a start, when life is busy it can be challenging or even impossible to make the time in your day to ‘do nothing’. There are so many demands competing for your time and the impetus to get on with all the doing can make quiet meditation feel impossible.

However, the advantages of a daily meditation practise are worth using consistency and discipline to overcome any barriers. It’s just so unbelievably good for robust mental health. Here are just some of the scientifically proven benefits.

1. Reduces anxiety – transcendental meditation (the type that involves repeating a mantra) was found to be more effective than regular treatment for anxiety.

2. Lowers stress – meditation may reduce chronic stress in the body by regulating the production of cortisol and decreasing chronic inflammation. This was found to have the most effect in long-term, regular meditation programs.

3. Improves symptoms of depression – practising mindfulness (a type of meditation where a person’s thoughts are guided back to the present moment) also calms the medial pre-frontal cortex (mPFC), or the part of the brain where you process thoughts about yourself. Left unchecked, the mPFC can go into overdrive, resulting in endless worry and rumination.

4. Decreases blood pressure – the benefits of transcendental meditation are not just for mental health, either. It’s been found to significantly lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in older individuals.

5. Reduces pain – meditation can also reduce your experience of pain. This in turn reduces psychological stress and improves overall quality of life.

6. Improves sleep – mindfulness may also be a viable treatment for chronic insomnia. This treatment worked best when combined with cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) techniques like stimulus control and sleep restriction.

7. Protects against aging – while the evidence is still inconclusive, so far it supports meditation as a shield for age-related cognitive decline. This includes for attention, memory and executive functioning and general cognition.

With so much going for it, it’s hard to keep dismissing meditation as a fad, boring or something you haven’t got time for. Instead, work out when you can find five to 15 minutes a day to make meditation part of your daily routine.

The easiest way to do this is to make meditation the first thing you do in the morning after waking. You can even try meditating before you get out of bed – no excuses then. Alternatively, making meditation the last thing you do before switching off at night can also be a good way to fit the practise in.

To get started, try using one of the many apps available. Most offer some kind of free trial or free content, then if you find one you like it’s worth paying the annual subscription to keep going.

Here are a few apps that are widely used and recommended:

Headspace – this is one of the most popular apps in the world for beginners, so it’s fair to say there is something in here for everyone. There is a 14-day free trial to see if you like it, but after that you will have to pay a subscription to keep using the app.

Calm – if being read to sleep by a celebrity like Matthew McConaughey or Emma Thompson sounds like meditative bliss, then Calm is the app for you. They also have a YouTube channel if you prefer visual cues to help you meditate.

Smiling Mind – this Australian psychologist-developed app is entirely free to use and covers many different meditation techniques. The sessions start at just one minute, so there are definitely no excuses for skipping your daily practice.