April 23, 2024

Cool new 8 week meditation study came out today. I have mentioned before that I have meditated a fair amount in the past. Nothing like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, but enough to know the affect that it can have. Meditation is great. Anyway one of the big things that meditation does is still the mind so that you are much better able to keep your concentration as well as creativity.

Studies tend to be inconclusive on the physical effect to your brain from meditation but a new report seems to show that in just 8 weeks it can make a big difference.

8 weeks meditation benefits

8 Week Meditation Study

An eight-week pro­gram of medita­t­ion led to brain struc­ture changes in peo­ple par­ti­ci­pat­ing in a stu­dy, re­search­ers say. It’s the first time that medita­t­ion, a prac­tice ad­vo­cat­ed by a range of re­li­gious tra­di­tions, has been shown to lead to such changes, ac­cord­ing to the sci­en­tists.

Pre­vi­ous re­search, they said, had re­vealed struc­tur­al dif­fer­ences in the brains of med­i­ta­tors, but could­n’t doc­u­ment that medita­t­ion had ac­tu­ally caused those changes. The re­search­ers re­ported that par­ti­ci­pat­ing in an eight-week medita­t­ion pro­gram ap­peared to make meas­ur­a­ble changes in brain re­gions as­so­ci­at­ed with mem­o­ry, sense of self, em­pa­thy and stress.

“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,” said Sara Laz­ar of the Mas­sa­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal’s Psy­chi­at­ric Neu­roimag­ing Re­search Pro­gram, the stu­dy’s sen­ior au­thor. “This study demon­strates that changes in brain struc­ture may un­der­lie some of these re­ported im­prove­ments and that peo­ple are not just feel­ing bet­ter be­cause they are spend­ing time re­laxing.”

The study is to ap­pear in the Jan. 30 is­sue of the jour­nal Psy­chi­a­try Re­search: Neu­ro­imag­ing.

Meditation Study Shows Changes to the Brain

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors scanned the brain struc­tures of 16 study par­ti­ci­pants two weeks be­fore and af­ter they took part in the eight-week Mind­ful­ness-Based Stress Re­duc­tion Pro­gram at the Uni­vers­ity of Mas­sa­chu­setts Cen­ter for Mind­ful­ness. In ad­di­tion to weekly meet­ings that in­clud­ed prac­tice of mind­ful­ness medita­t­ion – which fo­cus­es on non­judg­men­tal aware­ness of sensa­t­ions, feel­ings and state of mind – par­ti­ci­pants re­ceived au­di­o record­ings for guid­ed medita­t­ion prac­tice and were asked to keep track of how much time they prac­ticed each day. A group of non-med­i­ta­tors al­so had their brains scanned dur­ing the same time pe­ri­od.

8 week meditation study
8 week meditation study

The med­i­ta­tors in the 8 week meditation study re­ported spend­ing an av­er­age of 27 min­utes each day prac­tic­ing mind­ful­ness ex­er­cises, and their re­sponses to a “mind­ful­ness ques­tion­naire” in­di­cat­ed sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments com­pared with pre-par­ticipa­t­ion re­sponses, the sci­en­tists re­ported.

Anal­y­sis of the brain scans, which fo­cused on ar­eas where medita­t­ion-as­so­ci­at­ed dif­fer­ences were seen in ear­li­er stud­ies, found in­creased grey-mat­ter dens­ity in the hip­po­cam­pus, known to be im­por­tant for learn­ing and mem­o­ry, and in struc­tures as­so­ci­at­ed with self-a­ware­ness, com­pas­sion and in­tro­spec­tion. Grey mat­ter is the brain tis­sue that con­tains nerve cells.

If you are interested in learning more about meditation then check out this article on meditation for fitness that I wrote a while ago that is of course still relevant. Also There was a past study on meditation for stress relief and the science of meditation.

After seeing this 8 week meditation study I say find a quiet corner in the house and just sit quietly and see what meditation can do for you.

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