Cool Effects of Meditation
(that you can casually drop into conversation)
Brain regions associated with sensory processing, attention, and sensitivity to internal bodily stimuli were found to be thicker in meditators than in non-meditators when MRI studies measured cortical thicknesses of particpants. This means our brains can be trained and actually physically modified! Bananas.
Those who meditate regularly create changes in their brain synapses and synaptic networks, and the many layers of tiny capillaries that carry important brain food such as glucose and oxygen to hard-working areas of the brain.
During meditation, the left prefrontal cortex (behind the left side of your forehead) is where brain activity is most intense. This is the part that controls our attention.
You can control your brainwaves! Regular meditation practice can help you attain alpha brain wave states frequently. Getting into alpha wave brain states promotes role reversal of our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems- it can actually reverse the fight flight response! This means lowered blood pressure, heart rate, a calmer mind, and less stress hormones in the body.
Current research shows that mindfulness-based meditation (acknowledging and accepting sensations and thoughts while focusing on the breath) can reduce symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression in patients with chronic pain.
Many psychological studies have shown that regular meditators feel happier, and enjoy better and more fulfilling relationships than non-meditators.
Meditation has been shown to improve the immune system, helping to reduce the frequency, duration and severity of illnesses such as colds and flu! How’s that for magic?
There is a growing body of research that suggest that meditation-based programs may help to reduce common menopausal symptoms such as sleep and mood disturbance, stress, muscle or joint pain, and the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
Clinical studies suggest that meditation slows the effects of aging on the brain- and may even reverse them!
The Society for Integrative Oncology in the U.S.A. actually recommends meditation as supportive care for patients being treated for breast cancer- because it has been shown to reduce stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue. It has also been shown to enhance mood and self-esteem in patients with lung cancer.
Alfonso, J. P., Caracuel, A., Delgado-Pastor, L. C., & Verdejo-Garcia, A. (2011). Combined goal management training and mindfulness meditation improve executive functions and decision- making performance in abstinent polysubstance abusers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 117(1), 78–81.
Chiesa, A. (2010). Vipassana meditation. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,16(1), 37–46.
Plews-Ogan, M., Owens, J., Goodman, M., Wolfe, P., & Schorling, J. (2005). A pilot study evaluating mindfulness-based stress reduction and massage for the management of chronic pain. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 20(12), 1136–1138.
Van der Watt, G., Laughame, J., & Janca, A. (2008). Complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of anxiety and depression. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 21(1), 37–42.
Williams, M., & Penman, D. (2011). Mindfulness: An eight-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world. New York: Rodale.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
University of Massachussets Medical School
Psychosomatic Medicine (Journal)
Wake Forest University, School of Medicine