What was once an ancient Buddhist meditation technique is now turning into one of the best stress-busters of the century.
Turns out, other than the multitude of benefits it has on the human spirit, meditation may have actual scientific and tangible benefits on the human mind.
Using MRI technology, researchers from Harvard did a study at Massachusetts General Hospital showing that meditation has a powerful physiological influence on the brain.
Meditation can actually increase the grey matter in one’s brain by stimulating the building of new brain cells. Researcher’s also noticed thickening in specific parts of a person’s brain after only two months of meditation.
This research, which was published in 2011, was the first known documentation of the influence meditation can have on the physical brain.
Researchers took 16 participants and put them through an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program. During the eight weeks participants were given daily guided meditations and asked to record how much time they spent on these meditations every day. In addition, they met with each other once a week and learned about “non judgemental awareness of sensations, feelings, and state of mind.”
MRI scans were taken 2 weeks before the beginning of the study and again at the end. There were also scans taken of those who were not participating in the meditation program in order to compare results.
The meditating participants spent an average of 27 minutes each day doing mindful meditation practices.
Once the two months were over, participants filled out a mindfulness questionnaire that they had also done at the beginning of the study. Everyone who had meditated reported feeling less stressed and also showed improvements in other areas.
The amygdala is the center of the brain that helps the body deal with fear and stress and also stimulates the “fight or flight” response and the hormone cortisol. Researchers believe that this area showed less grey matter because the body’s stress response had gone significantly down during the participant’s weeks of meditation.
Meditation teaches the body to relax. In our go-go-go world people are often living in a constant state of chronic stress, which they assume to be normal, but it isn’t. Our bodies thrive when we live mindful of the present and at peace with our circumstances.
The hippocampus is the center of the brain that deals with learning, attention, awareness, compassion, introspection and memory. This was the portion of the brain that showed increased grey matter (or capacity) and stronger connections after the eight weeks of meditations.
The first researcher who wrote a paper about these findings, Britta Holzel, said:
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life”
So, if you needed another reason to start meditating every day, you’ve found it!
Meditation will not only help you relax, reduce stress, quiet your mind, strengthen your immune system, help you deal with pain and bring you in tune with the present, but it will also help you build new brain cells!
The Dalai Lama said:
“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
Meditation is a powerful tool that people have been using for centuries to connect with their inner selves or simply find peace in a loud world.
I challenge you to give meditation a try. Look up some good guided meditations on youtube like this one. Or simply take a few minutes to close your eyes and breath, clearing your thoughts and becoming aware of your own body and presence in the room.
Report back and tell me what you find in the comments below.
Growing up in Michigan, Drew saw first hand how processed food overtook America and his own waistline. After an encounter with a friend and a fresh pressed green juice, he felt the powers of using real nutrition as fuel and began his mission to be a role model for others to help them discover the possibilities of true health and happiness. After making a resolution to help change the world, on January 1, 2012, Fitlife.tv was born.
Drew Canole's transformation clients include celebrities, entrepreneurs, CEO's, authors and personal development gurus, such as Jay Kordich, Suzy Cohen, Joe Cross and MindBodyGreen.
The success of his first book on Juicing Recipes vaulted him to national attention as a first time author and has garnered media and television attention in the form of book deals, TV talk show hosting and national endorsements from some of the leading national companies focused on health, wellness and athletics.
Some of his books include: 10 Day Smoothie Challenge, Why-Dentity, A Juicers Practical Approach to Common Autoimmune Conditions, The Dream Hackers Guide to Higher Consciousness, with many more in the works.
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