Whether due to its spiritual or entirely secular benefits, meditation is becoming exceedingly popular worldwide. And to be fair, it has been a commonplace practice for millennia among Eastern traditions.
But now that meditation is taking hold in the West, many wonder if it’s just a New Age fad or if there’s some substance to it. Well, we’re happy to clear things up for you with some of the most surprising meditation statistics we could find. Read through these stats and facts about meditation, and then come to your own conclusion.
The Top 10 Meditation Statistics and Facts
- Meditation is slated to become a $9 billion industry by 2027.
- 14.2% of adults in the US meditate.
- As few as 15 minutes of meditation per day can alter the way some genes are expressed.
- Learning to meditate can reduce subjective pain by up to 40%.
- Meditation can reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
- An eight-week course in meditation can help reduce or eliminate symptoms of depression.
- Over 5,000 educators in the UK are teaching mindfulness in schools.
- Most Buddhists throughout history weren’t big on meditation.
- Jehova’s Witnesses represent the most meditative religious group in the US, with 77% saying they meditate once a week or more.
- The top 10 meditation apps amassed a combined 52 million new downloads in 2019 alone.
Meditation Industry Statistics
1. The global meditation industry will be worth $9 billion by 2027.
The meditation industry’s value should continue to grow at an expected CAGR of 10.4% through 2027. Meditation trends show a rise in the practice all over the world, but the United States remains the undisputed meditation gold rush. Market researchers valued the US meditation market at $1.21 billion in 2017.
As a point of reference, the wellness industry as a whole was valued at $4.5 trillion in 2018.
2. In 2019, the top 10 meditation apps generated over $195 million in revenue.
The accessibility of apps as learning aids undoubtedly contributes to the meditation boom. Although the top spots in the app store have been dominated by a select few apps, that dominance seems rock solid.
In 2015, the top 10 meditation apps only made about $8 million. In 2018, that number jumped to $128 million, according to the meditation statistics—meaning there was also a 52% increase just between 2018 and 2019.
3. Meditation data shows meditation studios generating over $650 million in the US every year.
Yoga studios have been popular for decades now, but meditation studios are starting to catch up. On average, a for-profit meditation center in the US generates about $269,000 in yearly revenue.
4. Almost 15% of US adults meditate, according to the statistics on meditation from 2017.
Research from a National Health Interview Survey showed that nearly triple the number of US adults meditated in 2017 compared to 2012. At the time of each survey, the portion of people who had meditated within the previous 12 months rose from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017.
The number of children aged 4–17 who meditated also grew from 0.6% to 5.4% in the same period. It’s hard to say exactly how many people meditate since the data is self-reported, but there’s no denying that these numbers are on the rise.
Meditation: Scientific Facts and Statistics
5. Research involving over 3,500 participants shows meditation can reduce anxiety.
Reducing stress and anxiety are among the top purported benefits of meditation. However, it’s challenging to find data that produces qualitative effects.
To arrive at reliable results, researchers compiled 47 scientific studies on meditation with 3,515 total participants. The results showed that mindfulness meditation reduced anxiety after only eight weeks of practice.
6. 15 minutes of relaxation-response meditation can alter the way your genes operate.
A study from Harvard looked at the effects of meditation on patients with hypertension.
Shockingly, the mind-body relaxation response practices used in the study changed gene expressions in 172 genes. The affected genes regulate glucose metabolism and inflammation response, among other functions.
7. At least 40 minutes of meditation can produce significant changes in brain connectivity.
A study of 34 healthy participants explored the effects of transcendental meditation on brain activity. The participants, who meditated for 40 minutes every day, showed increased connectivity between several cerebral areas associated with mood regulation.
fMRI scans confirmed the effects of meditation, and participants also reported reduced levels of stress and anxiety.
8. Even more excellent meditation benefits: statistics show that meditating as a part of heart rehabilitation treatment can improve cardiac blood flow by over 20%.
Positron emission tomography (PET) cardiac scans suggest meditation can improve heart health in coronary heart disease patients. The treatment regimen involved meditation in addition to other lifestyle changes, including exercise and dietary counseling.
Researchers found that meditation amplified the effect of these interventions. A co-author of the study even claimed that transcendental meditation alone reversed some effects of coronary heart disease.
Mindfulness Statistics and Other Benefits of Meditation
9. Meditation retreats improve psychological well-being for up to five months.
The Shamatha Project is a comprehensive study on the benefits of meditation retreats in the form of randomized controlled trials. Participants self-reported substantial improvements in several categories in one such trial, including well-being and mood.
Participants of the retreats also experienced significantly improved attention spans. So if you’re trying to cut back on your morning coffee, maybe meditation can help.
The health benefits persisted for five months after the retreat.
10. Meditation is capable of reducing pain by up to 40%.
A study from Wake Forest University confirmed these meditation facts on the subjective experiences of pain.
MRI scans of 15 volunteers showed that learning to meditate reduced the sensations of pain by approximately 40% when researchers induced pain. The same did not hold for participants who weren’t trained in meditation.
11. Meditation stats relating to PTSD treatment showed positive effects in 19 randomized control trials.
A literature review examined randomized controlled trials with a total of 1,173 participants. Subjects with post-traumatic stress disorder showed improvement in PTSD symptoms when using complementary health interventions, such as yoga and meditation.
However, researchers found no difference in the effect based on the type of intervention used.
12. Meditation and mindfulness practices improve sleep quality.
Sleep and relaxation are among the most improved functions via meditation, according to statistics on mindfulness. A study of 49 adults with sleeping problems showed mindfulness and awareness practices produced marked improvements in sleep quality.
The effects of meditation for participants were greater than they were for those given a structured sleep hygiene education.
13. People who meditate can increase grey matter volume by up to 6%.
Voxel-based morphometry scans confirmed long-term meditators had increased grey matter volume in the brain. Grey matter in non-meditators averaged 611 mL, while frequent meditators averaged 653.4 mL.
Perhaps one of the more important meditation facts to know, you’ll need to become a serious meditator to achieve those kinds of results. The study participants had been practicing meditation for at least five years and averaged an astounding 84 minutes of meditation per day.
14. One of the most interesting facts about meditation is that it could make you kinder.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin found an association between meditation training and increased altruism. The behavior was also associated with activating the brain regions linked to emotional regulation and social cognition.
15. An eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course can help fight depression.
Researchers from the University of California–San Diego studied a sample of participants with past histories of mood disorders. After completing a meditation course, the participants showed a decrease in ruminative thinking.
The process of ruminative thinking (going over the same thoughts) worsens and prolongs depression. This research could be the starting point for interventions that combat depression through meditation and mindfulness training.
16. According to recent meditation statistics, the UK education system includes 5,000 classroom teachers who deliver mindfulness training.
A series of trials across the UK are exploring the effects of meditation and mindfulness training on students. The government-sponsored program involves 370 schools. Teaching meditation in schools, research shows, could improve pupils’ attention spans and emotional health.
The initiative is part of the individual efforts of over 5,000 educators who have been working for over a decade to implement mindfulness training.
Buddhist Meditation Facts and Stats
17. Historically, most Buddhists didn’t meditate.
Although most people associate Buddhism with practicing meditation, it’s far less widespread than it appears. Meditation was mostly practiced specifically by Buddhist monks and only became commonplace among laypeople in the 20th century.
18. There are hundreds of kinds of Buddhist meditation.
Modern meditation practitioners and teachers recognize four broad kinds of meditation: concentrative, receptive, generative, and reflective. But this ignores a huge swathe of additional meditation facts, including the various types of meditation that come from different religious traditions.
Buddhist meditation alone includes hundreds of different kinds. Some are meant to achieve mindful states, while others aim for mental bliss and everything in between.
19. Approximately 67% of Buddhists in the US meditate at least once a week.
(Pew Research Center)
A substantial number of Americans—across all religious groups—report they meditate at least once a week. Unsurprisingly, Buddhists are near the top of the spectrum, with two-thirds meditating once a week or more.
However, Jehova’s Witnesses are the group with the most meditators by far. A full 77% say they meditate once a week or more.
A Few More Miscellaneous Meditation Facts and Statistics
20. According to last year’s meditation research, 2019 was a big year for meditation apps, with over 52 million downloads.
The top meditation apps have a substantial active user base, but they’re gaining new users at a stunning clip as well. In 2019, new users accounted for over 50 million downloads of the top 10 meditation and mindfulness apps.
The overwhelming leaders were Headspace and Calm. Calm peaked at 24 million downloads, while Headspace had 13 million new users over the period.
21. Yoga and meditation are the most popular alternative health trends in the US.
Yoga and meditation are linked to similar traditions, but yoga has been more popular by far in the US for a long time. However, in one of the most interesting facts about yoga and meditation, meditation is likely to overtake yoga soon.
In 2017, the rates of people practicing yoga and meditation in the US were similar (14.3% vs. 14.2%). However, meditators jumped to 14.2% of the population from an unremarkable 4% over only five years.
Those are the most exciting meditation statistics 2021 has to offer so far.
With this in mind, we hope this list of meditation statistics will help you become a better meditator or even convince you to pick up the practice if you haven’t already. Meditation is quickly becoming a mainstream practice, and there’s never been a better time to start.
The popularity of meditation comes as no surprise, both in the US and in the world as a whole. The numerous benefits balanced by virtually no adverse effects make it difficult to say no to meditation.
If you’re trying to cope with daily stress or just become a little more mindful, give meditation a try. You won’t regret it.
Is meditation scientifically proven?
Scores of studies show the effects of meditation backed by scientific research. And while the data is mounting, there isn’t enough to make definitive conclusions about the impact of meditation.
Despite the lack of conclusive results, good evidence suggests meditation can help reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and many other conditions.
How long does it take for meditation to change your brain?
Most serious research into the effects of meditation shows results after as few as eight weeks of consistent meditation. Brain imaging confirms these results.
(British Psychological Society)
Is it dangerous to meditate?
There is virtually no research that shows any negative or dangerous effects of meditation. But one study from Brown University specifically looked at the drawbacks of meditation.
The study found nearly half of its participants, who were frequent meditators, experienced delusional or irrational thoughts during their meditation. Furthermore, some study participants reported visions and hallucinations while meditating.
Meditation can also recall negative memories that are difficult to handle for some meditators.
However, it’s worth noting that statistics about meditation show it’s an overwhelmingly safe and beneficial practice.
What is best to think about while meditating?
One of the common misconceptions about meditation is that the goal is not to think. In a real sense, there’s no way to “not think,” and the actual aim should be to allow your mind to wander.
There’s no hierarchy of thoughts that make one thought better than another for meditation. The purpose of meditation is to avoid judging your thoughts and allow the mind to wander unimpeded.
In short, whatever thought comes to your mind while meditating is exactly what you should be thinking about.
Are 30 minutes of meditation enough?
Meditation statistics about the amount of time needed to see results vary wildly. Some studies show that meditation sessions as short as 12 minutes on a regular basis can produce cognitive improvement.
However, clinical mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions recommend 40–45 minutes of daily meditation.