There is growing evidence revealing that meditation can make us healthier and happier.
For example, brain imaging technology suggests meditation actually changes the human brain in a number of beneficial ways.
MRI scans have shown that long-term meditation can alter the structure of the cerebral cortex. Additionally, brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing have been shown to be thicker in those of us who meditate.
Previous studies linked meditation to benefits such as improved attention, memory, processing speed, creativity, and more. Recent research suggests that meditation helps counteract age-related loss of brain volume.
Meditation can be seen as a form of brain exercise that strengthens it and keeps it “younger” longer. And the benefits of meditation are not limited to your brain; it also has anti-inflammatory effects and affects gene expression, all of which can boost overall physical health and longevity.
A recent studies in the field looked at 50 long-term meditators and 50 control subjects between the ages of 24 and 77. Among the controls, advancing age correlated with a loss of brain volume, as expected.
Those who meditated were found to suffer less age-related brain atrophy.
As reported by GMA News: “People who reported meditating for an average of 20 years had higher brain volumes than the average person…
The study’s senior author told Reuters Health that the team of researchers expected to see more gray matter in certain regions of the brain among long-term meditators. “But we see that this effect is really widespread throughout the brain,
The meditators’ brains appeared better preserved than average people of the same age. Moreover, the researchers were surprised to find less age-related gray matter loss throughout the brains of meditators.”
Meditation energizes and makes one more productive without triggering an adrenaline rush, and meditation provides our body with rest that is 2 to 5X deeper than sleep.
Meditating for 20 mins equates to taking a 1.5 hour nap, but without a “sleep hangover”. Instead, one will feel awake and refreshed, and more conscious.
Meditation de-excites the nervous system. This makes it more orderly, thereby making it easier for our nervous system to release pent-up stress.
Many people are starting to recognize meditation as a powerful productivity tool.
Taking the time to meditate can help gain more time through boosted productivity.
Stress can promote ill health across the board, and the ability of meditation to stop stress is an important health benefit.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently published a study claiming they found the biological mechanism by which mindfulness affects physical health.
Meditation impacts human biology and physical health via “stress reduction pathways” in the brain.
As explained in the University’s press release:
“When an individual experiences stress, activity in the prefrontal cortex — responsible for conscious thinking and planning — decreases, while activity in the amygdala, hypothalamus and anterior cingulate cortex — regions that quickly activate the body’s stress response — increases.
Studies have suggested that mindfulness reverses these patterns during stress; it increases prefrontal activity, which can regulate and turn down the biological stress response.
Excessive activation of the biological stress response increases the risk of diseases impacted by stress .
By reducing individuals’ experiences of stress, mindfulness may help regulate the physical stress response and ultimately reduce the risk and severity of stress-related diseases.”
Over the years I tried to meditate unsuccessfully then 16 years ago I Keyed into it.
The Big Q: Am I doing it correctly?
I learned to relaxed my brain, with the goal is to calm my mind and rid it of all “monkey thoughts.”
You have to start slow by meditating for 3 mins once or 2X a day, then move to do 20-min sessions
I got into the groove, now I meditate for up to an hour, it provides many of the same benefits of sleep.
For me best meditation time is in the morning, right after I awaken, as I can get into the deepest states of relaxation at that time. Applying deep breathing helps calm the mind and get into deep states of relaxation.
I have a mantra that takes me there.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively.