Meditation and journaling are 2 very beneficial practices, widely recommended to improve your wellbeing and grow your mindset.
A few weeks ago we listed the 8 reasons why you should keep a meditation journal, from the ability to turn your “autopilot” off to the visualisation of your progress - and more, helping you to stay consistent and get more insight from your meditation practice…!
We’ve also explained how journaling before and after your meditation was such a great habit to develop.
Today we want to share with you the facts, aka the “scientific evidence” behind these two practices which are meditation and journaling.
Various aspect of the above are backed up by science in many different ways, and you might well be surprised by some of the benefits it brings!
If like us, you like to understand “why you do what you do”, then read the below! You’ll find the latest updates on the meditation and journaling science (all written in a very accessible and straightforward manner 😉).
PS: If you’re looking for the one tool that combines all the benefits listed below, check out The Meditation Diary, it is the perfect formula to create a meditation habit through journaling AND get the most of it.
Meditation: why is it so good for you? 6 science-based benefits of meditation explained
The benefits of meditation are numerous and so are the reasons to meditate!
There are an increasing number of articles and scientifically proven studies that validate these benefits and recommend to include meditation in your personal development routine.
Type it in your web browser and you will be amazed by the results…or just read the below, since we have listed them for you. 😉
If you were still sceptical about meditation, then this could finally convince you...!
1. Meditation helps you be more present
Meditation is known to help you to be more aware and present, mindfulness meditation being probably the best practice to achieve this state of “here and now”.
Because it makes you take the time to consciously breathe, to be aware of your physical sensations, to observe what your mind is doing and slow your thoughts down.
That overall awareness allows you to reconnect with yourself and refocus on the present moment.
This capacity to be more present has been scientifically demonstrated by a study carried out in 2007 from the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience journal, which results are as below…
After an 8 week course in mindfulness meditation, brain scans on participants showed that the training has allowed “neural dissociation of the two forms of self-reference in the brain that are habitually integrated”.
In other words, it created a physical separation in the brain between the self “across time”, versus the self “in the present moment”, thus allowing the mindfulness participants to be overall more aware in their day to day life and able to enjoy it in a fuller, more present way.
To read more about the study click here.
2. Meditation improves your sleep quality
Meditation, and again in this case mindfulness meditation specifically, has also been demonstrated to bring practitioners better sleep quality.
A clinical trial published in JAMA Internal Medecine shows that participants of the study, who usually showed moderate sleep disturbances, had significant improvements in their sleep patterns after a 6 week period of mindfulness practice.
This also impacted their daytime cognitive function…
Which means that not only did their sleep quality improve, but it also led them to be more alert and aware during the day, therefore reducing their sleep-related daytime issues.
Click here to read the full clinical study.
3. You feel less stressed thanks to meditation
Meditation helps to manage stress in your day-to-day life.
It encourages you to understand and accept your feelings, so you don’t panic when stress goes through your body. It gives you a control over it, so you feel more calm and serene.
A 2012 study from the neuroscientist Gaelle Desbordes showed that a regular practice of meditation changes your brain: it decreases the release of hormones in the amygdala (the region of the brain that controls the release of stress), which means the subjects feel less stressed.
These changes were detected from the beginning to the end of the study; which means subjects feel less stress not only during meditation training but in their everyday life too.
To find out more about this study click here.
4. Meditation can reduce your blood pressure
Taking deep breaths while meditating will lower your shoulders effortlessly and reduce tension in your back. You will feel physically more relaxed and less tense...and not only will your back benefit, but your blood pressure too!
Studies have shown that meditation can relax the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, blood vessel tension etc. leading to an overall reduction of blood pressure…and so reduces the strain on the heart.
This blood pressure decrease appears during meditation but also over time with a consistent meditation practice.
Dr. Herbert Benson hence says: “a simple intervention aimed at emptying the mind of the constant barrage of intrusive thoughts can achieve major benefits for the body.”.
Click here to read more about it.
5. A regular practice of meditation will improve your attention capacity
Meditation is an excellent training for your brain!
You can see it as a little “mind boot camp”; by attenuating the number and intensity of the thoughts, meditation gives you back the mental space and the strength you need to focus on what you want, not what your (sometimes overthinking and ruminating) mind wants.
It improves your mental capacities like the ability to concentrate and memorise.
In 2018 a study on 20 novice meditators has demonstrated that after a 10-day mindfulness meditation retreat, significant improvements have been reported in rumination and performance measures of working memory and sustained attention, in comparison to a group who has not been trained in meditation.
For all the details on this study, click here.
6. Develop emotional stability with meditation
Meditation assists you to return to your natural state of calmness, with clearer thoughts: it gives you emotional stability.
You can then react to situations with wisdom and clarity and will likely make better life decisions and progress through everyday situations with equanimity.
A study from the University of Toronto documents the link between mindfulness and improved emotion regulation.
It suggests that thanks to the practice of mindfulness, people acquire more self-awareness and acceptance, which together facilitate executive control and then emotion regulation.
"By practicing mindfulness, those people are able to feel and accept the initial 'pang' of affect. Doing so will help them to minimise the negative consequences associated with the 'full-blown emotional reactions'." This will lead them to a better control and regulation of their emotions.
All the details of the study right here .
Why journaling makes you feel better and its proven benefits
We’ve just reviewed together some of the biggest benefits of meditation, and as you’ve probably noticed the studies have shown that the positive changes and improvements will not only impact your mind, but your body and brain too!
Yet that’s not the only way to gain mind clarity and develop your happiness…and so much more.
Another great practice very beneficial for your wellbeing and mental health is journaling.
It’s easy to implement in your daily routine and like meditation, you don’t need to dedicate several hours of your weeks to start feeling its benefits (and paired with meditation, the results can be even greater as we will show you below…).
Forget the old “clichés” you could have in mind about keeping a daily journal, journaling is not just for teenagers writing about their school crush…
See below the numerous examples of scientific evidence that highlight the therapeutic effects of journaling through life, we've listed them for you so you understand why and how this writing routine will change your life for the better
1. Handwriting in a journal helps you develop your focus and attention capacity
At The Meditation Diary we strongly believe in the great benefits of handwriting in a physical journal.
This is why we first want to address the benefits of the "good old pen & paper", in a world where everything is more and more digitalised....
Did you know that when you write on paper, using a pen, you get greater brain activity and memory retention compared to using a tablet or phone? This is what a Japanese study published in the journal called Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience demonstrated in 2021 (all details here).
This has also been confirmed by the University of Indiana; they have shown that children who learn to draw a letter freehand have better results than those who do it by tracing or typing on a computer. The brain is much more stimulated, and it also helps to generate ideas more easily.
Not to mention evidence that show that by keeping one’s hand engaged with a pen it helps to focus and concentrate better on what you are writing or thinking about.
Hence handwriting stimulates the brain in a way that can’t be achieved by technology - that’s one of the reason why we have developed a meditation diary to help you meditate...and not an app! This way you can enjoy the benefits of meditation AND journaling within one single routine 😉
2. Feel more relaxed and present with journaling
The synchronisation of mind and body also helps to feel more present, by holding a pen indeed you connect to the physical perceptions, feeling the sensations of writing on the paper… It brings you back to the task at hand.
For some people handwriting is also a great source of relaxation…this explains why adult colouring is such a growing trend.
The pen and paper connection brings a lot of peace and quiets the mind, it is not only an enjoyment but it also helps resting and recovering the brain.
Last but not least…handwriting is a nice break from technology and its constant distractions, which we might all be able to relate to! (Have you ever picked up your phone with the intention of doing something specifically, but your attention has been stolen away by an unwanted notification that you’ve decided to quickly answer, which then several minutes later left you disoriented and forgetting why you needed to use your phone in the first instance? We bet you did…because we all have!).
3. Get mind clarity thanks to journaling
Taking the time to write your thoughts down is a great exercise to be more aware of them.
Sometimes we don’t even realise what thought patterns might be playing until we take the time to observe them...
This is what a 13-week study conducted on 97 students in 2019 by Professors Alt and Raichel has demonstrated.
The study showed that unstructured and semi-structured (with prompted questions) reflective journaling increases the cognitive awareness in 2 ways:
• It helps with “self-knowledge”: it increases the awareness and understanding of your own thought processes and self-awareness.
• It gives a better “regulation” perception: you feel more able to regulate and manage your thoughts, especially with the practice of semi-structured journaling (the journaling practices that start with prompts and opened questions to guide you in your reflection).
That’s why it can be very beneficial to pair journaling with other practices, like meditation. Including a guided meditation journal in your meditation routine will allow you to be more aware of what is actually going on and gain more from your practice!
You can check out The Meditation Diary as an example, its templates and prompts have been especially developed to enhance your meditation practice and gain “self-knowledge” and “thought? regulation”, as per the scientific study we just mentioned above.
To read more about the study, click here.
4. Journaling helps you manage anxiety
A study from 2018 of the University of Northern Colorado has been conducted on nursing students who experienced anxiety in the clinical setting.
To help them to identify and decrease their anxiety, as well as avoid any negative effects on patients’ safety, the nursing students have been offered a 4 week guided and non-guided reflective journaling methods.
The before and after results clearly showed that there was a decrease in the states of anxiety for all the nursing students who regularly practiced journaling for 4 weeks, compared to the “control group” of nurses who didn’t write down their thoughts (no change in their states of anxiety). You can read in more detail on the studies here .
This is one of the several scientific studies that highlight the benefits of reflective journaling as an effective strategy to address the problem of anxiety.
Keeping a journal is an excellent way to become aware and identify your internal thought patterns that could bring anxious ideas.
As it is not only in your head anymore but on paper, it can give you a better blueprint to find what triggers your stress and raises self-awareness. It can also bring some relief to express these ideas, instead of keeping everything inside.
To Sum up… Pair meditation and journaling for the best wellbeing routine
As we’ve seen together, meditation and journaling are two practices with considerable benefits, all helping you to feel better and become a more aware and serene you, AND all backed up by science.
Meditation and journaling are great to practice individually, but they are also amazing paired together, as they shrewdly complement each other!
You can gain more insight from your meditation practice with some journaling after your session, helping you to better identify your thoughts and reflect on your session…
And you can also gain a deeper journaling practice after having meditated and calmed your mind, being in the best conditions to now reflect and listen to your inner self…
Together these practices elevate one another, allowing you to gain more and enjoy a maximum of their benefits.
Hence we fully recommend to include them in your self-care routine and pair them together!
A great way to do so is by using a meditation journal, it will be the efficient link between the two practices. It will help you to combine them into your routine smoothly and then get the most of them.
You can freely write before and/or after your meditation in a blank notebook that you will dedicate to meditation, or you can use prompts and opened questions to bring you some guidance and help you reflect.
We recommend to use The Meditation Diary , as this meditation journal is the perfect combination of meditation AND journaling, and it has been developed specifically for it. Besides it has already helped many individuals hone their wellbeing routine, you can read the users review here.
Stay tuned for more tips and advice on how to optimise your self-care habits and by then, have a rewarding mindful practice!
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