You know that meditation helps you relax and improve your mood, but did you know that new research shows that it actually increases the size and functioning of our brains?
From the article “Is meditation the push-up for the brain?” by Mark Wheeler in the UCLA Newsroom:
Two years ago, researchers at UCLA found that specific regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger and had more gray matter than the brains of individuals in a control group. This suggested that meditation may indeed be good for all of us since, alas, our brains shrink naturally with age.
Now, a follow-up study suggests that people who meditate also have stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy. Having stronger connections influences the ability to rapidly relay electrical signals in the brain. And significantly, these effects are evident throughout the entire brain, not just in specific areas.
Some of the meditation benefits are:
- A bigger brain. I really like that idea 😉
- Promotes muscle relaxation. Physically reducing muscle tension increases blood flow to overworked muscles, speeding the healing process.
- Reduces blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol which in excessive amounts puts you at increased risk of –
Worsening of skin conditions, such as eczema
- Anxiety and stress relief. As a benefit of stress relief you enjoy –
- Calmer, happier interactions with other people
- An improved ability to cope with stressful situations and people. When you can stay calm in stressful situations your decision making is less likely to be a rash “knee-jerk” reaction and more likely to be appropriate to the situation.
- Better sleep, which improves physical energy and improves decision making. Sure you could drink a lot of coffee to try counter the effects of poor sleep, but then you have to cope with caffeine jitters
- Mindfulness meditation, when used to interrupt negative thought patterns is a great tool for releasing negative thoughts and feelings. That in turn makes it easier to keep on track with healthy habits (like diets).