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25 surprising meditation statistics everyone needs to know

Meditation is a mental exercise that involves relaxation, focus, and awareness.

It is to the mind what exercise is to the body. It is typically done individually, while seated, and with eyes closed.

Statistics show that meditation has become one of the most popular ways to relieve stress among people from all walks of life.

Besides restoring the body and mind to a calm and peaceful state, meditation also gives a bunch of other perks.

It’s no surprise that more and more people are turning to this age-old practice.

Read on to discover some of the most exciting and enlightening data and meditation statistics.

You’ll not only learn about the current meditation trends but will also gain useful insights on how many people meditate today, how they do it, why they do it, and what the average person’s experience is with meditation.

Let’s dive in.

Super Interesting Quick Meditation Statistics and Insights

  • Today, the number of people who meditate globally is estimated to be anywhere between 200 and 500 million.
  • 40 percent of adult Americans claim to meditate at least once a week.
  • The number of people who meditate today has risen by 3 times since 2012.
  • More than 35 million Americans have considered practicing meditation at some point.
  • Since 2012, the number of children who’ve tried meditation has grown 10 times more.
  • 75% of insomniacs who’ve started a daily meditation plan are able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.
  • Meditation may reduce the wake time for people with sleeping problems by up to 50%.
  • Practicing meditation for 6-9 months may reduce anxiety by 60%.
  • It is estimated that over 50% of senior American citizens meditate at least once a week.
  • Up to 70% of the people who’ve started meditating have continued with their self-care routines for more than 2 years
  • The meditation market in the U.S. is valued at $1.22 billion
  • The U.S. self-care market is expected to hit over $2 billion by 2022.
  • By 2018, over 52% of employers had some provision for self-care training and classes for their employees.
  • Meditation sessions reduced school suspensions by 45%.

The Increasing Popularity of Meditation

Unlike a few years ago, when meditation was just a fringe activity for insider wellness types, it has now proliferated to become one of the most powerful wellness trends.

Together with a healthy diet and exercise, meditation is now one of the three most preferred pillars of wellbeing.

Here are some top meditation statistics that reveal how popular this self-care practice has become:

1. The number of people who meditate globally is estimated to be anywhere between 200-500 million [1].

While there is no clear global data on meditation adoption and market size, a rough estimation of people who meditate globally is estimated to be between 200 and 500 million.

With more people realizing just how effective meditation is to overall wellbeing, it is no surprise that more people are willing to engage in the practice.

(The Good Body)

2. 40 percent of adult Americans claim to meditate at least once a week [2]. 

Statistics from Pew Research Center suggested that around 40% of adult Americans claimed to meditate at least once in a week.

The research further indicated that while religion plays a crucial role in practicing meditation, not all people who meditate do so for religious reasons. 

(Pew Research Center)

3. The number of people who meditate today has risen by 3 times since 2012 [3]. 

According to a report by CDC, the number of people who meditated in 2017 was three times more than in 2012, going from a measly 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017.

This is a result of the widespread growth of meditation studios, brands, apps, and mainstream awareness that promotes meditation as a cheap and easy-to-use self-care practice. 

(Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

4. More than 14% of Americans have considered practicing meditation at some point [4]. 

Emerging evidence suggests that about 14 percent of Americans – up from 9.5 percent in 2012 – have tried meditation at least once in their life.

Using 2019 census data on the American population, this translates to over 35 million Americans.

The stresses and anxiety of today’s contemporary life may have something to do with this increase. 

(CDC/ National Center for Health Statistics)

Benefits of Meditation

5. General wellness is the number one reasons why people try meditation [5]

A 2016 study sought to understand why people practice meditation for self-care.

Among the reasons given, 76.2% of the people indicated that they were drawn to meditation to improve their general wellness.

Other reasons included:

  • Improving energy – 60%
  • Improving brain function – 50%
  • Reduce anxiety – 29.2%
  • Alleviate stress – 21.6%
  • Reduce depression – 17.8%

(Nature.com)

6. Meditation can reduce the wake time for people with sleeping problems by up to 50% [6].

A study by the National Center of Biotechnology Information indicated that meditation is a novel approach to stress reduction and emotion regulation.

Another comparative study on the mindfulness-based approach for insomnia treatment noted that meditation could be used to develop adaptive ways among chronic insomniacs that can help them fight wake times and nocturnal symptoms.

(National Center of Biotechnology Information)

7. Practicing meditation for 6-9 months can reduce anxiety by 60% [7]. 

A research on whether mindfulness meditation improves anxiety and mood symptoms showed that the clinical population tested reported 60% improvement for their anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.

Patients who learned meditation were more resilient to stress and anxiety. 

(J Clin Psychiatry) 

8. People with back pain were more likely to experience a 30% improvement in their ability to carry out daily tasks compared to those only taking medication. [8].

Chronic back pain is a leading cause of lost time, affecting up to 80% of U.S. adults. A recent study showed that meditation may alleviate back pains by 30%.

Meditation imparts adaptive, acceptance-based coping mechanisms to people suffering from chronic back pains.

(University of Wisconsin)

9. Mindfulness meditation can reduce depression relapses by up to 12 percent [9]

Some psychologists widely agree that meditation plays a critical role in managing depression and may reduce relapses by 12%. 

Further research shows that people who practice mindfulness regularly can more easily tell when they are at risk of a relapse, allowing them to take appropriate action well ahead of time. 

(American Psychological Association)

10. Meditation may reduce PTSD symptoms 73% of the time [10]

Research on the effects of mindfulness meditation has shown promising results that suggest that this self-care practice could reduce the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in 73% of trauma-exposed individuals. This could give patients tools to start an active and engaging lifestyle.

(Medscape)

11. Meditation plays a critical role in delaying the onset and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by increasing telomerase enzyme by 43% [11]

Recent research has shown that short daily meditation sessions may help alleviate the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ideally, meditation helps increase the telomerase enzyme that protects the DNA caps/lids by 43%, thereby delaying the onset of A.D. 

Besides, meditation reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by promoting sleep, increasing wellbeing, up-regulating immune system genes, reducing inflammatory genes, and reducing depression.

12. Meditation leads to massive increases in regional brain gray matter density [12]

Recent meditation statistics from several magnetic resonance (M.R.) images of the brain have shown that long-term meditation practitioners have an increased gray matter volume than people who don’t meditate.

The increase in the hippocampus gray matter has a resulting increase in learning and memory capabilities. Other regional grey matter sections also impact compassion, self-awareness, and introspection.

(Online Psychology Degree Guide)

13. People who meditated over an eight-week period changed the expression of 172 genes that regulate inflammation, circadian rhythms, and glucose metabolism. [13]

In turn, this was linked to a meaningful decrease in their blood pressure.

(National Library of Medicine)

Demographics of Meditation Users

14. 4% More women practice meditation than men [14]

A recent study by the National Health Interview Study showed that women have higher rates of using meditation as a way to fight off daily stressors than men. Overall, 10.3% of women and 5.2% of men reported using some type of meditation. 

(National Health Interview Survey)

15. Women Benefit From Meditation More Than Men [15]

A study by the Yale School Of Medicine found that women who meditate experience reduced negative thinking as compared to men.

This may be perhaps due to the gender-based emotional differences between men and women and how the two genders respond and process emotional stress.

16. 45-64-Year-Old adults are more likely to use meditation than older or younger groups [16]

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that 15.9% of adults aged between 45-64 years practiced meditation in 2017.

Adults under the age of 44 and over 64 years had a 13 percent likelihood to practice meditation. 

(National Library of Medicine)

17. Non-Hispanic white adults were 15.2 percent more likely to meditate [17]

A 2017 study by the National Center for Health Statistics showed that non-Hispanic were more likely to practice meditation than African Americans (13.5%) and Hispanic (10.9%). 

(National Center for Health Statistics)

18. Buddhists meditate 66% more than other groups [18]

 A study by Pew Research showed that 66% of Buddhists meditate at least once a week, 6% meditate once a month while 7% meditate at least once a year.

This comes as no surprise since meditation is an age-old practice among the Buddhists. But statistics show that meditation is not an isolated practice to one religious group.

In fact, 49 % Evangelicals reported having practiced weekly meditation, with 77% Jehovah’s witnesses also indicated that they meditate at least once a week with 25% of the people not affiliated to any religious group meditating once a week

(Pew Research)

Meditation and Children

19. 10X more children practiced meditation in 2017 than in 2012 [19]

The National Institutes of Health estimate that 1OX more children meditate today than in 2012. The national representative survey data revealed that only a measly 0.6 % practiced meditation in 2012 as compared to 5.4% in 2017. 

 (National Institutes of Health)

20. Approximately 5% of all American kids (4-17 years) now meditate [20]

Over the past few years, more American kids are now practicing mindfulness meditation, amongst other forms of self-care practices.

Surprisingly, unlike the adult counterparts, both boys and girls showed no significant differences in the use of meditation among the two genders.

21. More older children practiced meditation than younger children [21]

In 2017 alone, a study by the National Institute of Health indicated that older kids above 12 years were practicing meditation than their younger counterparts.

While different races showed different meditation practices, there was a minimal difference among children below 17 years. 

(National Center for Health Statistics)

The Meditation Industry

22. The meditation market in the U.S. is valued at $1.22 billion [22]

Meditation has become mainstream in the U.S. with an annual growth of 11.4%. Today, the meditation industry is worth over $1B and is estimated to go over 2 billion dollars in 2022

(Statista)

23. The top 10 mindfulness apps pulled in more than 195M dollars in 2019 [23]

Meditation apps have been the most leading revenue earners in the self-care category. Headspace App led the pack by grossing more than $56 million in 2019 alone

Further meditation statistics show that over 52 million users had downloaded the top 10 meditation apps by 2019. 

(National Business Group on Health)

(Tech Crunch)

Meditation at Work or School.

24. By 2018, over 52% of employers had some provision for self-care training and classes for their employees.

More employers are adopting the idea of having self-care classes and meditation training for their employees as a way to increase productivity and employee retention. This is a significant increase from 36% in 2017.

(National Business Group of Health)

25. Meditation sessions reduced school suspensions by 45%.

A Middle School in San Francisco introduced a program dubbed “Quiet Time” to reduce the violence and gang culture that would often find its way to the school from the neighborhood.

Within just a month, the school had reported a 98% attendance rate and a reduction of school suspensions by 45% thanks to this form of meditation. 

(The Guardian)

The Bottom Line

Meditation is might be a way to reduce stress, alleviate pain, improve cardiovascular health, boost memory and brain function, and improve sleeping patterns. 

Beyond promoting health and general wellbeing, meditation is an excellent alternative to creating calm and improving productivity and cohesiveness among kids, employees, and communities.

These meditation statistics just show how pervasive meditation has become. 

Important Meditation Questions Answered With 20+ Real Meditation Statistics

Whether you’re thinking about getting into meditation, have been practicing meditation for years, or are just curious to learn more about meditation trends in the modern world, the best way to learn about meditation and answer your questions is to look at the numbers behind it: the studies, trends, and research surrounding meditation. 

In this section of this report on meditation statistics, we cover all the most pressing and surprising statistics surrounding meditation, from meditation trends to how you can get started with a meditation practice to how long it really takes

Interested In Getting Started In Meditation?

The need for meditation is greater now more than ever before.

There is a prevailing feeling of self-disconnectedness amongst people of all ages; feelings of loneliness, isolation, and the inability to truly bond with those around us as well as engage with our authentic selves.

We have difficulty being and living in the moment, and the struggle to be present in our lives has never felt more real.

Meditation and mindfulness have grown in popularity simply because they allow us to reconnect with the parts of us that have become lost in the modern world. 

With overstimulation from gadgets, technology, and the internet, and just the general hurriedness of the overly productive modern environment, our values have shifted so far away from our inner selves that meditation has become a necessity just to feel like ourselves again, and to ultimately live a happy and fulfilling life. 

If you want to begin incorporating meditation in your life, here are some questions you might want to ask:

Is meditation becoming more popular than before?

Yes, meditation has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and more people than ever before in the US and the rest of the world are engaging in regular meditative practices.

According to recent data from the CDC, 14% of Americans now meditate, with an estimated 500 million people regularly meditating around the world, or around 16% of the global population. 

While 14% might not seem like a huge number, it’s important to put this into context: just 8 years ago in 2012, only 4.1% of the US population practiced regular meditation.

The jump from 4.1% to 14% means the number of Americans regularly meditating has more than tripled in less than a decade, and the number doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

What are the main proponents driving meditation forward?

On top of social media platforms, influencers, and highly successful individuals crediting their success to and promoting meditation, more people feel the great need to take time out of their busy, noisy lives to sit down and reconnect.

I’ve never tried meditating before; can I do it now?

As someone who might want to begin meditating, you might feel a bit lost. Where do you start, and how do you start it?

Like starting any new hobby, starting meditating requires a bit of research and patience, and anyone can do this whenever they want. 

You don’t need a class or any kind of experience at all. In fact, one survey found that nearly 70% of people who meditate have been doing it for less than two years.

Here’s the exact breakdown of how long people have been meditating:

  • Less than a year: 24%
  • 1-2 years: 28%
  • 2-5 years: 19%
  • Over 5 years: 30%

A substantial number of people who regularly meditate have been doing it for such a short amount of time, yet have experienced all the benefits that come with meditative practices and mindfulness.

You don’t need any kind of expert experience or counseling at all.

What do I need to start meditating?

As we said above, most people who meditate have been doing it for just under a year or two, meaning anyone can decide to start meditating when they feel like it.

And exactly how you start meditating depends entirely on you: if you want to join a class, physical or online, or if you want to follow a preferred vlogger, then great. If you’re more old-school and you want to follow tips in a book, that works too.

The important thing to remember is: it’s all about your own will and desire to do it, and the patience to keep engaging in it without seeing immediate rewards.

According to a survey by Mellowed, 87% of people who meditate do it entirely on their own. No special group classes or expensive teachers required. Just your own time and willingness to center yourself. 

I don’t think I have the time to meditate. How long does it take?

You do have the time; we all have the time to meditate. If you have the time to sit down and watch an episode of your favorite show a few times a week, then you have the time to meditate for your own well-being.

The more important questions are: how often do people meditate, and how long should meditation last?

According to the same survey mentioned above, about 51% of people meditate up to three days a week, and just 16% of people meditate daily. Here’s the exact breakdown of survey respondents:

  • Once per week: 9%
  • 2 days per week: 20%
  • 3 days per week:22%
  • 4 days per week: 15%
  • 5 days per week: 14%
  • 6 days per week: 3%
  • 7 days per week: 16%

In terms of the duration of each meditative session, most people also practice a very manageable commitment: 88% of respondents stated that their meditations last for 30 minutes or less, with 41% meditating for just up to 15 minutes, 47% meditating for 15 to 30 minutes, 12% meditating for 30 to 60 minutes, and just 1% meditating for over an hour.

The great thing about meditation is that there are no rules. This is a personal practice that helps you no matter how you choose to do it, as long as you do it in the ways that feel right for you.

Just giving your mind that regular break to recenter and find itself again amidst all the noise and chaos is enough to experience the boost that meditating can provide.

If you think you don’t have the time to add meditations into your regular life, then you are most likely mistaken. Remember: if you really want to do something, you will always find the time to do it.

I’m afraid to start meditating. What’s wrong? 

We fall into routines and daily habits, and it can be difficult to incorporate a new activity into your daily life, especially one that requires an active effort of reaching towards your own mindfulness.

Whereas other activities around us suck in our passive attention, meditation requires your own active desire to continue doing it, day-by-day.

For most of us, getting into the rhythm of daily meditation simply requires finding the reason why you want to do it.

In the survey linked above, respondents listed their top reasons for meditating, with the most common reason being for the reduction of stress and anxiety. Here are the top reasons why people meditate:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety: 84%
  • Improve memory and concentration: 53%
  • Improve school or work performance: 52%
  • Improve overall daily energy: 39%
  • Improve general wellness and health: 30%
  • Improve overall outlook and worldview: 28%
  • Spiritual purposes: 21%
  • Other: 3%

For most people, there isn’t just a single reason why we meditate, but a collection of them. Maybe you want better health, greater energy, and a more positive outlook; maybe you just want time to be yourself, improve your own concentration, and rediscover your spirituality. 

Whatever your reasons may be, it’s important that you understand what they are, so that you can truly begin meditating for yourself rather than meditating just because it’s trending or someone asked you to do it.

Can anyone meditate?

Yes. There is nothing stopping you from meditating. Your age, background, socioeconomic status, nationality — none of these matter when you want to begin meditating. 

According to studies, more women meditate than men, with 16% of women meditating and 12% of men meditating. 

In terms of age ranges, studies have found that around 5% of US children meditate, and they experience amazing benefits from it, with one school experiencing a 45% reduction in school suspensions after implementing school-wide meditation programs.

For other age ranges, around 13-16% of people across the board engage in regular meditations, from the ages of 18-44, 45-64, and 65 and above.

What are the benefits of meditation?

Meditation offers tons of benefits proven by studies and statistics. We explore the serious long-term benefits of meditation more deeply in the section below, but here are some of the most commonly reported benefits of meditation:

The physical and mental health benefits of meditation are endless.

Overall greater physical health, emotional and mental health and stability, anxiety and depression reduction, stress management, attention span and concentration improvement, memory loss reduction, and greater kindness to others and oneself: all of these and more are proven benefits of taking the time to engage with your inner self.

How does meditation help with menopausal symptoms? 

Women ages 45 to 55 undergo menopause, which is the end of the woman’s reproductive years. During this, women typically experience anxiety, depression, as well as physical symptoms such as hot flashes. 

A study suggests that using meditative techniques such as mindfulness may help alleviate a woman’s menopausal symptoms.

The study involves 1,700 participants between the ages of 40 to 65. Scientists were keen on understanding how their level of mindfulness and meditativeness affected their level of stress and the symptoms they experienced. 

Patients who scored high on their mindfulness levels also reported more positive results on irritability, depression, and anxiety.

Dr. Sood, one of the lead scientists, suggests that mindfulness can help lower stress, which in turn improves a woman’s mood especially during the menopausal stage. 

I have trauma, PTSD, and general anxiety; how can meditation help me? 

Transcendental meditation involves sitting with your eyes closed while reciting a mantra for 15 to 20 minutes a day.

Compared to other meditative techniques, transcendental meditation doesn’t rely on concentration; participants just fixate and think about the mantra, which typically has no real meaning, until the body feels completely relaxed and yet awake at the same time. 

A study published in Military Medicine found that transcendental meditation can help active duty U.S. Army Service members in dealing with PTSD. The study involves transcendental meditation for 20 minutes, twice a day for two months. 

The participants reported feeling more relaxed and focused after the transcendental meditation training. 

In one case, a patient who has sustained two blast-related concussions, frequently experienced flashbacks and nightmares, and exhibited hypervigilant and anxious behavior reported feeling more relaxed after the training session.

This particular soldier relied less on medication to calm himself and exhibited behavioral improvements, including less irritability. 

Similar results were found in a study involving 180 high-risk criminal profile inmates. Scientists found that there were significant improvements on sleep disturbances, perceived stress, and trauma symptoms after the inmates participated in transcendental meditation. 

Meditation and The Physical Body

The psychological and mental benefits of meditation as proven in those studies don’t really come as a shocker.

After all, the improvements meditation brings to one’s mental health has always been known.

These days, more scientists are trying to understand if meditation can influence physical symptoms as well as improve our physical well-being. Two particular studies suggest that it can. 

Can mindfulness help with physical pain? 

One research published in the journal Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience suggested that mindfulness can help alleviate pain. This study involved 17 participants from the ages 18 to 45, all of whom have had little or no prior experience with meditation. 

The scientists introduced stimuli in the form of painful VS warm temperature. All participants were exposed to the stimuli twice and were made to experience in the experiment with two different mindsets.

In one mindset, they were instructed to react naturally. In the second mindset, the scientists highlighted two facets of mindfulness: 1) acceptance of the present moment; 2) attention to the present sensation. 

The research showed that patients reported less physical pain and negative emotions during the mindful mindset even if the stimuli were completely the same. One of the scientists explains that reductions in pain were caused by reduced responses in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain associated with experiencing emotions. 

This study’s clinical significance isn’t limited to the impact short-term meditation has on improving pain and even possibly chronic pain. Since all subjects had little to no experience with meditation and mindfulness before the experiment, it goes to show how mindfulness can reap clinical benefits even in patients who don’t have a sustained meditation experience. 

Does meditation involve heart health? 

Another interesting study uncovers the physical benefits meditation has on the body. High blood pressure and hypertension are two significant risk factors for heart disease.

According to the CDC, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the U.S., with 1 out of 4 people dying due to a heart problem. 

For the most part, managing hypertension and high blood pressure typically involves rigid diets and regular medication. For the majority of patients, the difficulty lies in keeping up with these healthful habits and sustaining them over a long period of time. 

One particular study involved the use of the MB-BP program, also known as the Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction program. Their goal was to try and understand if the MB-BP curriculum can help patients maintain healthy habits to keep their blood pressure below baseline.

43 participants underwent a 10-session program and were followed up after a year. Scientists revealed that the MB-BP curriculum helped the patients maintain their BP, as well as healthful lifestyle changes.

This shows that mindfulness training can be a life-changing component when it comes to dealing with chronic conditions such as hypertension. 

These studies exhibit that meditation is a worthwhile practice offering both short-term and long-term benefits.

The short-term benefits are obviously related to immediate relaxation and reduced anxiety. In the long-term patients, who practice meditation develop a stronger sense of control, balance, and self-management skills – all of which are imperative when maintaining one’s physical health. 

Meditation As A Growing Market and Practice

 There’s no doubt that meditation will become even more embedded into our society in the following years.

The surge of meditation and spirituality apps on the market is a clear indication that more and more people are getting into meditation. In 2019 alone, 52 million users have downloaded meditation apps.

The following numbers exhibit just how popular meditation and spirituality apps are:

  • Self-care apps earned $195 million in revenue in 2019 alone 
  • Experts predict the meditation app market to be valued at $4 million in 2027
  • There is a 65% year-on-year increase in the number of meditation and yoga app searches 

And it’s likely that it won’t stop there. What used to be a personal practice has become more commonplace even in more professional settings.

Big companies like Apple, and other smaller businesses following suit, now have dedicated meditation rooms to improve employee health.

In fact, there has been a 20% increase interest in workplace meditative programs from 2017 to 2018 alone. 

If you’re ever wondering if it’s too late to get on board the meditation train, the statistics very clearly speak for themselves.

Meditation isn’t just a fad – it’s a necessity in such a noisy, busy, and hectic modern world.

It’s never too late to get started and use meditation to enhance your performance, health, and happiness. 

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[24] The Science of Well-being, and Why It Matters: Employer Practices. Available: https://www.nihcm.org/categories?task=download&collection=presentation_slide_x&xi=0&file=presentation_slide&id=940 [Accessed June 2020] [25] One of San Francisco’s toughest schools transformed by the power of meditation. The Guardian. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/nov/24/san-franciscos-toughest-schools-transformed-meditation [Accessed June 2020]

 

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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