Last year, a study published in the Consciousness and Cognition journal reported that meditation can help reduce your body’s response to anger. The study found that just one session of meditation reduced the physical signs of anger, even in people new to the practice.
Researchers examined 15 meditation newbies and 12 experienced meditators. They measured their physical responses, including blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory function. The participants were then asked to relive experiences that made them angry.
Initiality those new to meditation experienced symptoms of anger such as raised heart rate and increased blood pressure. However, after just 20 minutes of meditation, the participants who had never done meditation before were much calmer and more relaxed.
Conversely, for those participants who were meditation veterans, reliving an experience tied to anger did not spark a notable physical reaction. Their heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory function remained stable both before and after.
Meditation in the Past
While these findings come from a relatively new study, meditation has long been used as a method for controlling one’s emotions. There’s decades of evidence to suggest it can help protect a person’s body from the harmful physical stress of anger. It is also believed that people who choose to do meditation long-term are more likely to be less reactive in the face of an incident or experience that would normally anger them.
But despite the evidence, the practice has yet to be widely adopted because many have not had access to resources to learn how to meditate effectively. The practice, like many other wellness practices, like yoga, can be intimidating to learn in a group class setting. And some are still skeptical of it’s effectiveness.
More academic studies like the one published in Consciousness and Cognition could change that. And others are doing their part to ensure meditation is practiced more widely. Thanks to smartphone applications and other internet resources, interested parties can now learn the practice from the privacy of their own homes.
Additionally, educators are working to break the stigma around learning to meditate at an early age. A number of schools have implemented meditation programs over the last decade and some have adopted the practice as a form of discipline.
As a result of these efforts, attitudes around the practice do appear to be changing. In a poll published in April, 42 percent of respondents in British Columbia said they believe “mindfulness meditation should be allowed in public schools.”