New research show physical benefits of 8 weeks of Mindfulness Meditation
- Thought some of you might be interested in a recent article that shows
how just 8 weeks of Mindfulness meditation can actually change the
structure of your brain - in a good way. The subjects practiced
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which was originally developed
at Mass. General Hospital by Jon Kabat-zinn.
If anyone is interested in seeing a talk on Mindfulness by Jon
Kabat-zinn that he gave at Google, then check out the link below :
Mindfulness meditation benefits and changes brain structures in 8 weeks
Monday, February 07, 2011 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
NaturalNews) (NaturalNews) Meditation is just a way to relax and maybe calm you down for the moment, right? Wrong. Not only
will most regular meditators tell you that meditation makes them feel better emotionally and physically, but now there is
also scientific evidence that regular meditation literally changes the body -- specifically, it changes the brain in ways
that appear to be beneficial.
In a study published in the January 30 edition of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
researchers concluded that an eight week mindful meditation practice produced measurable changes in participants' brain
regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. This is the first study to document meditation-produced
changes in the brain's grey matter over time.
"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," Sara Lazar,
PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study's senior author, said in a media statement. "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."
Previous research has documented structural differences between the brains of experienced mediation practitioners and
individuals with no history of meditation. These brain changes included thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated
with the integration of emotions and attention. However, earlier studies were unable to document that those brain differences
were actually caused by meditation.
So for the new study, MR images were taken of the brain structures of 16 study participants two weeks before and two after
they participated in the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center
for Mindfulness. Besides attending weekly practice sessions featuring mindfulness meditation (which focuses on nonjudgmental
awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind) the research subjects also used audio recordings for guided meditation
practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they meditated daily, too. MR brain scans were also taken of a group
of non-meditators over a similar time interval to serve as a control.
The meditators reported spending about 27 minutes a day practicing mindfulness exercises. The MR images, which focused on
areas where meditation-associated changes were noted in earlier studies, showed increased grey-matter density in the
hippocampus (an area of the brain known to be important for learning and memory) and in structures associated with
self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
Participants' answers to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements in the meditators' stress levels
compared with pre-participation responses -- and reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density
in the amygdala, part of the brain which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were
seen in the control group.
"It is fascinating to see the brain's plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing
the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life," Britta Holzel, PhD, first author of the paper and a research
fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany, said in the press statement. "Other studies in different patient populations
have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the
underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change."
Another Study based on Experienced Meditators:
Link to Original Article: