A new research has been done by the Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which may lead to some very interesting observations regarding the effects of meditation on human brain. The research suggests that meditation can indeed lead to larger brain sizes. That would mean, that people who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don’t. When it comes to gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. That’s very interesting as the thickening or as regards the sections of the human cortex get thinner as we age.
Meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being and the findings are consistent with some other studies. The medical society and those actively following on meditation regularly are very excited with the findings. If you are still surprised, be aware that previous findings have led to similar conclusions when it was noticed that visual areas in brains of jugglers get thickened due to repeated practice and more usage of that particular area of brain during performance. The same holds true in case of musicians whose music areas of brains reported thickening. In the meditation related research, brain scans of 20 experienced meditators were compared with those of 15 non meditators. People with varying backgrounds were taken as control groups, those who worked in careers such as law, health care, and journalism. During scanning, the meditators were told to practice meditation as usual while the others just relaxed and thought about whatever they wanted.
Those who meditated practiced Buddhist “insight meditation,” which focuses on whatever is there, like noise or body sensations. No chants or mantras were used during the meditation process There were an average of about 40 minutes meditation sessions per day. As reported, there were mediators of varying experience, some had been doing it for only a year, others for decades. Very profoundly, it was noticed that those most deeply involved in the meditation showed the greatest changes in brain structure. This made the researchers conclude that the differences in brain structure were caused by the meditation.
One great benefit of meditation is that it can be helped to control random thoughts Experts believe that random thoughts and the like actions continually deprive brain of the energies that can be instead used for constructive purposes.
Insight meditation can be practiced anytime by all those people. We all face worries all the time but worrying too much for trivial matters also becomes a habit. Often that leads to self sabotage when we can’t perform to our fullest extent. People tend to worry about what will happen if they miss it, or if the end product will be good enough to suit the boss, at workplace. Most people drive themselves crazy with unproductive “what if” worry. While to increase performance and for greater achievements, “If, instead, you focus on the present moment, on what needs to be done and what is happening right now, then much of the feeling of stress goes away”. The increased thicknesses in the grey matter are very proportional to the time devoted to meditation and the depth of meditation.
Another great benefit that meditation doers find is the way it reduces aging. There are several small benefits as well but you can bet those differences are going to lead to lots more positive changes in your life.
There are still several questions that scientists need to answer regarding the study like whether meditation produces more connections between brain cells, or more blood vessels? Can brain thickness influence daily behavior? And other questions that might lead to even more positive conclusions regarding meditation. Larger studies are planned at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Harvard-affiliated.
Such studies are very encouraging for those actively believing in meditation and alternative therapies. As further research is done on a larger number of people and testing them multiple times, more examination of peoples’ brains both before and after learning to meditate is done, we may find even better results. Scientists are very keen to find the effect of slowing aging on the regular meditators.
Since meditation counteracts the natural thinning of the thinking surface of the brain,there is a high probability that it plays a role in slowing – even reversing – aging? Well, that is what only time and further studies can prove but definitely meditation techniques is something you must have a look into if you are planning to live healthier and longer!
Human Brain Sections
Image by GorissenM
This is your brain…