Monday, January 31, 2011

Meditation, Memory, & Stress

According to a study published yesterday in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, meditation might alter your brain for the better.

A group of participants who underwent mindfulness meditation had increased gray matter in the hippocampus, which is where your learning and memory takes place, when compared to a control group.   They also had reduced gray matter in the amygdala, or the area where stress and anxiety occur.

The meditation was called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and has origins in Buddhism, where one is supposed to focus on the here and now, being conscious of their breathing, body, and the here and now.  Basically, it involves getting to a place where you are not thinking of the past or the future (e.g. to-do list etc), but being completely focused on yourself in the present.  The lead author of the paper, Britta Holzel, discusses it in the NYTimes article on the topic.

This meditation has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve your attention span.  Although more research is needed to understand the mechanisms by which meditation impacts the brain (and larger studies, as this study only had 16 participants and 17 controls), it certainly is promising to improve one's health.

Have you ever tried it?  It certainly takes practice.  But it might be more practice I decide to do.  Will you?

1 comment:

Guzmán. said...

Jiddu Krishnamurti telling a joke...

“There are three monks, who had been sitting in deep meditation for many years amidst the Himalayan snow peaks, never speaking a word, in utter silence. One morning, one of the three suddenly speaks up and says, ‘What a lovely morning this is.’ And he falls silent again. Five years of silence pass, when all at once the second monk speaks up and says, ‘But we could do with some rain.’ There is silence among them for another five years, when suddenly the third monk says, ‘Why can’t you two stop chattering?”