We’ve all heard people tout the benefits of mindfulness meditation from those who regularly participate in meditation practices. But, if you’re like a large portion of people, you probably took their ramblings with a grain of salt. Most assume the practitioners have feelings of peace because of the simple fact they were spending some time relaxing from their daily stress, claiming you can obtain the same feeling from taking a vacation.
However, scientific evidence suggests there is some truth behind the claim that mindfulness meditation creates a healthier mind and provides cognitive and psychological advantages for doing so.
As a matter of fact, some neuroscientists decided to perform research to see how meditation affects the brain and the psychological components therein. So they took sixteen candidates and developed an eight-week assessment to investigate any results of brain function and structure.
Meditation Altered Brain Structure in Eight Weeks
The study had participants enroll in four Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses that were held at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The experiment was conducted over an eight-week timeframe, giving the scientists extensive time to determine if the meditation had any sort of impact on their subjects.
The research participants went to weekly group meetings lasting approximately two and a half hours per class. They also spent one full day at the six-week mark. To make sure the subjects were experiencing enough mindfulness meditation to influence cognitive change, they provided them with an assignment to practice while away from the study.
Whenever the participants would go home, they took a forty-five-minute recording that contained mindfulness meditation techniques with them. That way, they could practice body scans, yoga, and sitting meditation before their next arranged visit together at the university.
At the end of the experiment, the doctors looked at the results to determine if mindfulness meditation does alter an individual’s brain as has been claimed by meditators for millennia.
Mindful Meditation Led to Increased Regional Brain Matter
When the experiment was completed, the researchers looked at the magnetic resonance imaging of the participants’ brains and compared them to the results they had taken prior. What they found was astounding. All of the subjects’ cerebellums showed signs of enlargement in certain areas. A significant ballooning of four particular sectors was evident. Those sections were their posterior cingulate cortex, left hippocampus, temporoparietal junction, and a portion of the brain stem that is called the pons.
Those particular potions of the brain are important for various reasons. For example, the posterior cingulate cortex assists with retrieving memories and is linked to our emotional salience. The left hippocampus regulates emotions, memory, and learning. The temporoparietal junction is in charge of the comprehension of our own body, as well as empathy and compassion, while the pons produces regulatory neurotransmitters. As you can see, all improvements in these areas will greatly benefit a person. And the fact mindfulness meditation is capable of doing such is no small feat.
Mindfulness Meditation Can Work For You
It’s no secret that an individual’s cortex shrinks as we get older. It’s the primary reason why older people have a harder time trying to remember things or learn new technological concepts. Science has known the cause of that abnormality in brain function is the result of aging for years. But the outcomes of these types of experiments show great promise for those who practice mindfulness meditation.
In one region of the prefrontal cortex, fifty-year-old practitioners of meditation had identical amounts of gray matter in their brains as what would be found in a typical twenty-five-year-old subject.
In conclusion, we might not have the technological or medical advancements available to us at this time to prevent our bodies from aging, but we do have mindfulness meditation techniques within grasp to help us stave off the adverse effects of getting older.
Practicing meditation not only allows you a better sense of self, the ability for compassion, and reduced stress levels, but it gets your brain to its previous shape before Father Time had his way. So take advantage of this knowledge. Practice mindfulness meditation daily. According to science, it’s worth it.