Research: 8 Weeks is Enough Meditation to Alter Gray Matter
to Increase Awareness AND Decrease Stress
There is a reason why nearly 100,000 viewers have chosen to share this article across the major social media platforms. The research done here demonstrates a connection between the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practice related to mood and attention and stress resiliency with changes that are taking place in the make up of the brain.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about his research is that it found that in an eight week mindfulness meditation program the amount of the brain’s grey matter BOTH increased AND decreased. It increased in the area associated with conscious awareness in the brain’s area of executive function…the cortex, while at the same time decreasing in the area associated with the stress response (the amygdala).
This study presents some very interesting results as brain science advances.
Check out the details below. Fascinating…
Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. In a study that will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter.
“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,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “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.”
For the current study, magnetic resonance (MR) images were taken of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) Program at theUniversity of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness . In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation — which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings, and state of mind — participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. A set of MR brain images was also taken of a control group of non-meditators over a similar time interval.
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
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,” says ,Britta Holzel author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. “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.”
Thanks to Harvard.edu where you can read the rest of this article.