Written by Estella Vall
Meditation for health benefits #1
There’s a lot of evidence that meditation may do some good for those people who practice it on a regular basis, it can improve our energy, creative thinking, stress levels and even our success. The meditation-and-the-brain research has been active for a number of years now, with new studies coming out often to illustrate some new benefit of meditation. The practice seems to have an incredible variety of neurological benefits.
These benefits seem to be felt after a relatively short amount of practice. It’s certainly worth a shot: If you have a few minutes during the day, rather than turning on the TV or surfing the net, see what happens if you try quieting down your mind, or at least paying attention to your thoughts and letting them go without reacting to them.
Studies show that meditation is associated with improvement in a variety of psychological areas, including anxiety, stress, depression, addiction, eating disorders and cognitive function, among others. There’s also research to suggest that meditation can reduce blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and even cellular health. But what does it actually do to our bodies?
First of all, it changes our most important organ: the brain. The cells and neurons in the brain are constantly making new connections and disrupting old ones based on response to stimuli, a quality that researchers call experience-based neuroplasticity. This affects the neural circuits of the brain, which in turn affects how we respond to situations. It also affects the actual structure of our brains — thickening some areas and making others less dense.
“Think of the end of a neuron as a hand, with thousands of fingers,'” says Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital who studies mindfulness meditation. “The number of fingers relates to the number of interconnections between neurons and that number can change. One reason it can change is due to stress”.