The Benefits of Meditation – recent research

30 Aug

There are many research studies on the benefits of meditation. And here are just a few summaries from some recent studies, which point to meditation not only being good for quietening the mind, but it’s also great for supercharging the brain!

  • Meditation practiced consistently over a long period of time changes brain structure for the better.  A 2011 study shows that meditation can have a positive effect on the brain in as little as eight weeks.  Participants in the study showed increases in grey matter in the hippocampus, which is associated with self-awareness, social awareness, compassion, and memory formation. (Psychiatry Research: Neuro-imaging,Volume 191, Issue 1 , pp 36-43, 30 January 2011)
  •  Tonya Jacobs, a scientist at UC Davis’s Center for Mind and Brain, has just reported (on-line in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology) that meditators show improved psychological well-being, and that these improvements lead to biochemical changes associated with resistance to aging at the cellular level. Specifically, an analysis of meditators’ white blood cells showed a 30 percent increase in an enzyme called telomerase, an anti-aging enzyme.  The scientists emphasize that meditation does not lead directly to cellular health and longevity. Instead, the practice appears to give people an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life, which in turn leads to an increased sense of control over their lives and to less negative emotion. This cascade of emotional and psychological changes is what regulates the levels of the anti-aging enzyme. (Wray Herbert, Huffingon Post)
  • Another 2011 study showed how meditation practice contributed to significant development of new neural connections throughout the whole brain which helped to regulate the emotions and behaviour.  (“Enhanced brain connectivity in long-term meditation practitioners,” Neuro Image. Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 1308-16, August 2011).
  •  Cases of Alzheimers are on the increase right across the world. In Ireland alone we have over 47000 sufferers.  A study published in 2010 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that meditation shows great promise for lessening and possibly reversing the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.  A form of meditation called the Kirtin Kriya (a chanting meditation) which takes only around 11 minutes, practiced every day for eight weeks, was found to increase cognitive abilities and improve memory in Alzheimers sufferers.
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