Mindfulness Meditation Literally Rebuilds Your Brain

Zen

 

A first of its kind Harvard University study reveals that meditation literary rebuilds your brain.  This study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the effects of meditation on the brain.

 

How Long Does It Take?

 

Participants in the study practiced mindfulness meditation every day for an average of 27 minutes. 3

 

MRIs were taken at the beginning of this study and at the end of the 8-week study. The results: Meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s grey matter in just 8 weeks! Whereas the control group had no change.

 

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

 

“Mindfulness is a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing your mind on the present. To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself. Research suggests that mindfulness meditation may improve mood, decrease stress, and boost immune function.”1

 

Please note: “In addition to weekly meetings that included the practice of mindfulness meditation… participants (also) received audio recordings for guided meditation practice…”3

 

Which means that both methods could be potentially effective, the silent mindfulness meditation and a guided audio recording.

 

What is Grey Matter?

 

Grey matter is the darker tissue of the brain and spinal cord consisting mainly of nerve cell bodies and branching dendrites.

 

Grey matter refers to unmyelinated neurons and other cells of the central nervous system. It is present in the brain, brain stem and cerebellum, and present throughout the spinal cord.

 

But Most Importantly

 

“The role of the grey matter is the processing of sensory and motor information, control of emotions, memory and intellect. The control of emotions, memory and intellect is associated with the growth and development of the brain.” 2 

 

 “The analysis of MR images, … found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.” 3

  

As you can imagine the amount of grey matter and it’s density differs from individual to individual.

 

What Does this Mean?

 

It means that we can increase our capabilities, intelligence and compassion. 

 

We can improve our memory, concentration and self-control. 

 

We know about the brains plasticity, now we know about our capabilities to initiate the changes.

 

Should You Stop Meditating After 8 Weeks?

 

Of course not.  The more we meditate the better. Keep it up.

 

 

Don’t have 30 minutes to spare?

 

If you can spare as little as 3 – 10 minutes it will do. When you commit a small amount of time to meditation, you will quickly realize that it is definitely worth your while.   Experienced meditators know that meditating even for short periods, e.g., from 30 seconds to 1 minute can calm your mind especially before you are about to step into a highly stressful situation.

 

 

Other Benefits of Meditation

 

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” 3 Examples of these benefits are the reduction of stress, better focus, enhanced concentration and an improved decision making process.  And now you know why.

 

 

Like All Good Things in Life

 

Like all good things in life, meditation takes time and practice, give yourself this time, you will get an excellent return on your investment.:)

 

Sources:

 1 http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/mindbody/a/Meditation.htm

 2 http://renaldisorders.blogspot.ca/2009/02/role-of-grey-matter-and-white-matter-in.html

3 http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2044646.stm

 http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/11/us-intelligence-idUSBREA1A0CR20140211

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7374914

  http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_matter

 

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