Student and Registry Services


Benefits of meditation

15 May 2020

Now that you are at home and may have more time to yourself, why not join UCL’s weekly meditation sessions offered in the morning and evening to improve your wellbeing during the lockdown. Stay healthy, calm and connected. We look forward to seeing you.

We all aim to be happy and satisfied in life. The question is, are we looking for increasing our wellbeing in the right place? Researchers are now discovering that one of the main sources of wellbeing lies in the clarity of thoughts.

According to Buddha, meditation trains the mind to be free from dwelling on the past or contemplating about the future. It allows us to rise above our thinking and just experience being in the present moment.

I, myself, meditate regularly and have noticed significant differences within me: I feel a lot calmer, more joyful and at peace. I’m also a lot less bothered by overthinking; I notice more gaps in the stream of my thoughts, which is actually quite liberating. Meditating and practicing being in the present moment breaks the cycle of constant thinking, which then creates space for insight and creativity. As a result, we gain more mental clarity and peacefulness and are able to experience life more fully.

Let me share with you some of the benefits of meditation in different areas of wellbeing with scientific research to back them up.

Stress reduction

Lowering stress level is one of the main reasons why many people meditate. You may or may not know this but too much stress is linked with poorer sleep, depression and anxiety, increased blood pressure, weaker immune system, being tired frequently and cloudy thinking. Research studies have looked into this and found that people who practice meditation regularly actually begin to experience changes in their response to stress that allow them to recover from stressful situations more easily and feel less stressed out from the hurdles of their everyday life.  


Stress can of course induce anxiety. Anxiety is a cognitive state that is experienced when we find it difficult to regulate our emotions. However, the good thing is, people who practice meditation consistently have been able to reprogram neural pathways in their brains and therefore, improve their ability to regulate their emotions.

Increases attention span

Meditation has also been shown to increase your attention span and ability to focus. For example, a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania studied the effects of an eight-week mindfulness meditation course and found it improved participants’ ability to reorient and maintain their attention.

A similar study on office workers found that an 8-weeks of training in meditation or body relaxation techniques resulted in better memory for tasks they had performed and that they also switched tasks less often and remained focused on tasks longer in comparison to a control group. In addition to these, no doubt, these employees reported experiencing lower levels of stress.

Promotes positive thinking

Furthermore, with the current pandemic situation, we all might need to increase our positive thinking a bit more. Meditation is one of the secrets to generating positive thoughts because it calms the mind and makes us feel more relaxed…and when we are relaxed, we automatically feel more positive. In a study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it was found that those who meditated regularly experienced more positive emotions and even three months after the experiment continued to show increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support and decreased ill symptoms than those who did not practice meditation frequently.

There is a saying: “your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” It may not be the event that make or break it for us but rather how we view it and the meaning we attach to it. Pay attention to your thoughts during the lockdown and how they might be affecting you. If you are bothered by your thoughts or simply want to improve your mood, meditation can certainly help you.

More kindness

In addition, studies find that meditation can particularly generate more positive feelings and actions toward others. For example, a meta-analysis of 22 studies showed that meditation helps people to increase compassion for both themselves and others and also reduces self-reported depression. Another review showed that meditation can improve social anxiety, reduce marriage conflict and help anger management. Maintaining happy family relationships and managing anger are especially important for us during the lockdown.

Sign up for UCL's weekly meditation session