A recent study that has been making waves and headlines suggests women benefit from meditation more than men on a general level, especially when it comes to a boost in mood.
Let's take a closer look!
Mood, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion
The study, which was conducted by researchers at Brown University, measured the changes in mood, mindfulness and self-compassion in 77 students, which included 41 men and 36 women.
All students underwent a 12-week course on mindfulness meditation, averaging 41 hours of meditation during the period.
Both sets of students saw a far-reaching range of effects, but what grabbed researchers’ attention was the fact that the women had a much greater mood boost than their male counterparts.
In fact, the women’s moods improved by an overall average of 11.6%, while the men’s moods did not show a significance difference.
It should be noted that both genders enjoyed significant gains in some skills, like self-compassion and focus.
But the women had the biggest gains in 80% of the categories measured, especially when it came to disposition and positive feelings.
As such, the study was significant as it was one of the first to show a big difference in gender-based benefits when it comes to meditation.
So Why the Discrepancy?
According to one of the researchers at Brown University, it may come down to how the different genders deal with resolving problems.
"The mechanisms are highly speculative at this point, but stereotypically, women ruminate, and men distract,” said Dr. Willoughby Britton, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior in a recent interview.
"So for people that tend to be willing to confront or expose themselves or turn toward the difficult, mindfulness is made for improving that. For people who have been largely turning their attention away from the difficult, to suddenly bring all their attention to their difficulties can be somewhat counterproductive.”
Granted, the study focused on just a very small sample of the overall population and younger, stressed-out students at that.
It's Not the First
But it’s not the first research that’s considered how meditation can specifically enhance the lives of women.
Several studies have followed the link between meditation and:
- Easing pains related to pregnancy
- Other physical ailments that only women endure
And other researchers have looked solely at how meditation can benefit mental facilities in women - such as anxiety, addictive behaviors, and stress – finding positive results throughout.
As for co-author Britton, the Brown University study’s results suggest a positive correlation for women who want to boost their outlook, as well as keep stress disorders and other mental conditions at bay.
“Emotional disorders like depression in early adulthood are linked to a litany of negative trajectories that further disadvantage women, such as poor academic performance, school drop-out, early pregnancy and substance abuse,” says Britton.
“The fact that a college course could teach women skills to better manage negative affect at this early age could have potentially far-reaching effects on women’s lives.”
The findings of the Brown Study were published in the journal “Frontiers in Psychology.” They are considering the widely publicized results.
The study may very well serve as a launching point to further investigate just how women benefit from mindfulness meditation.
Having a professional teacher on your side will go a long way in getting you started. Once you’re on the path, you’ll be amazed at how far meditation will take you.