Meditation Really Can Change the Brain, Study Finds

The following article encourages me even more to attend meditation classes in the near future. If an eight-week meditation program already generates measurable effects, I am curious what the results would be like if you followed a regime of meditation for one year, a few years or even more.

I haven’t decided yet which kind of meditation I would like to go for. Suggestions anyone?

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.

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