The Scientific Power of Meditation

The Scientific Power of Meditation


For thousands of years people have practiced
meditation for spiritual, emotional, and physical well being. But from a scientific perspective,
how exactly does meditating affect your body? Does it really do anything? It all starts in the brain! During meditation,
brain-scans see increased activity in regions directly correlated with decreased anxiety
and depression, along with increased pain tolerance. The Default Mode Network, in particular,
is activated when one’s mind is at rest and not focusing on the outside world, and
has been found to improve memory, self awareness and goal setting. Want to be more caring to
your friends and family? When scientists compared the brains of Buddhist monks to new meditators,
they found the region of the brain associated with empathy to be much more pronounced in
the monks. It also literally changes your brain waves – and we can measure these frequencies.
Meditators have higher levels of Alpha waves, which have been shown to reduce feelings of
negative mood, tension, sadness and anger. And if that wasn’t enough, it also physically
changes our brain shape and size. Studies found that after 8 weeks of a meditation program,
gray matter was more dense in areas associated with learning, memory processing, and emotion
regulation. And yet the amygdala, which deals with stress, blood pressure and fear, had
decreased gray matter! When we look at the entire body, not only
do we see decreased blood pressure, but it can also increase the variability of your
heart rate. While this may sound harmful, it actually plays a critical role in properly
transporting Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide throughout your body. Think your getting sick? In a study
where both meditators and non-mediators were given the flu virus, meditators were able
to produce a greater number of antibodies and had increased immune function. If we go a little deeper, we can even see
changes on a cellular level. Your chromosomes have protective protein complexes called telomeres,
which help reduce damage to your DNA and lower cell death. And a shortened telomere length
has been linked to several disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s
and cancer. Amazingly, when cancer survivors completed a meditation program, their bodies
showed significant increases in telomere length. It’s believed that psychological intervention,
particularly decreasing stress, has a direct effect on the enzyme telomerase, which has
been shown to counteract shortening by adding DNA to the shrinking telomeres. Of course, meditation is not a substitute
for other medical advice or a healthy lifestyle – we don’t want you leaving this video thinking
it will cure cancer. But much like hitting the gym can grow your muscles and increase
your overall health, it seems that meditation may be a way of ‘working out’ your brain
with extra health benefits. And since your brain controls, well…all of you, why not
relax and say ‘om’ every once in a while. And if you like working out your brain, be
sure to get our AsapSCIENCE book which is now available for pre-sale at asapscience.com/book!
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