According To Harvard Study, Meditation Builds Brain Cells
By Drew Canole
What was once an ancient Buddhist meditation technique is now turning into one of the best stress-busters of the century.
The purpose of Mindfulness Meditation is to help you quiet your distracted mind and become more in tune with the present, yourself and the inner power and strength that is buried deep inside of you.
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 final MRI scans showed something interesting: decreased grey matter in the amygdala and increased grey matter in the hippocampus.
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.
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.
As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
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