In a study led by a Harvard-affiliated team out of Massachusetts General Hospital, MRI scans documented how meditation produces massive changes in the brain's gray matter.
It has long been known that meditation produces increased clarity, attention, and a sense of peacefulness, and science has now proven that it also provides concrete cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day.
"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", says study senior author Sara Lazar of the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology.
The participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and after 8-weeks, a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus was observed. This is the part of the brain associated with attention, self-awareness, and memory.
"Participant-reported reductions in stress were also correlated with decreased density in the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with anxiety and stress, none of which were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time", the study reports.
Mindfulness if becoming more and more talked about and studies are coming out with more information validating the importance it can play in our lives. By practicing meditation daily, we can play an active role in physically changing our brain, and increasing our quality of life.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.