Meditation and music are two calming and transformative activities that can be good for your health in multiple ways. Research studies have shown that both practices have beneficial effects on your mind, body and emotions.

How do meditation and music heal?

1. Protect your heart. People who practice meditation are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, or die within five years,* according to Harvard Medical School. Meditation helps reduce cardiovascular risk physiologically by lowering heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline and the stress-related hormone, cortisol.*

2. Improve sleep. Older adults who had trouble sleeping experienced less insomnia and fatigue after six weeks of practising mindfulness meditation,* reported a JAMA Medicine study. Mindfulness meditation, which focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment, helps people sleep better by making it easier to evoke the body’s relaxation response at night,* according to Harvard University researchers.

3. Relieve pain. Patients who listened to music before, during and after surgery had less anxiety and needed less pain relief after surgery, according to a study in The Lancet.

4. Boost immunity. Music listeners had higher numbers of natural killer cells, a type of immune cell that attacks bacteria, infected cells and cancerous cells, according to a McGill University study. They also had higher levels of Immunoglobulin A (IgA), a type of antibody in the digestive tract and lungs that helps to prevent infections.

5. Sharpen mind and memory. Older adults with some warning signs of cognitive decline showed significant improvements in memory and cognitive performance after three months of simple meditation or music listening practice, according to a Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease study.

6. Lift mood. Listening to music improves your mood by releasing dopamine, the feel-good brain chemical that is involved when people experience pleasure and reward, reported a McGill University study. Mindfulness meditation may help improve mood and lower the risk of developing major depression in people with mild depression, while also reducing their depression symptoms, according to a study in Annals of Family Medicine.

7. Ease anxiety. Mindfulness meditation helps to reduce anxiety and brain imaging showed that meditation-related anxiety relief was activated by brain areas involved with executive function and control of worrying, reported a Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience study.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers engaging musical and meditative activities such as its signature Rhythm ‘n’ Moves program, Java music club, tai chi and yoga that nurture the mind, body, emotions and spirit.

*The following sources are references for this blog, in order of appearance:
1. Harvard Health Publishing. “Meditation offers significant heart benefits.” (2013)
2. Harvard Health Publishing. “Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep.” (2019)
3. Medical Daily. “Listening to music before, during, after surgery proven to reduced need for pain pills: Study.” (2015)
4. Medical Daily. “Scientific literature shows music can boost immune system and reduce pain.” (2013)
5. Science Daily. “Meditation and music may help reverse early memory loss in adults at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.” (2017)
6. Psychology Today. “Why listening to music makes us feel good.” (2011)
7. Microsoft News. “The simple habit that can help you fight depression.” (2018)
8. Psychology Today. “How does meditation reduce anxiety at a neural level?” (2013)