How Meditation Can Change Your Brain Chemistry

 

Most experienced meditators would probably agree that a regular practice produces many positive, noticeable changes, such as a greater sense of well-being and happiness, greater feelings of relaxation, reduction in stress, and a generally more positive outlook on life. However, the reality is even more profound than we have thought until recently. There is an increasing body of evidence that meditation actually produces changes in our brain.This is a startling validation of meditation which can have a significant impact in convincing people to begin meditating and convincing occasional meditators to commit to a regular practice.

 

 

The implications are huge. This means that we can control the development of our brain through mental exercises and actually change its structure. For so long, we have been told by science that our brain development stops when we are in our teens or early twenties. The only change would be a deterioration as we age. However, we are now finding that mental functioning can be improved as we age through a concerted effort.

 

The 1/21/11 issue of the Harvard Gazette made reference to a study done at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2010. The article stated that “Meditation group participants 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 analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.”

 

A 2/21/11 article in the Huffpost Healthy Living by Deepak Chopra also noted that “Brain scans of Buddhist monks had already shown dramatic alteration of gamma waves in the prefrontal cortex, a region associated with higher cognitive responses as well as moral feelings like compassion.”

 

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