MRI scans show increased volume in parts of brain linked to empathy, awareness
"A mindfulness meditation training program can trigger measurable changes in brain areas associated with awareness, empathy and sense of self within eight weeks, a new study has found."
"The meditation group participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day doing mindfulness meditation exercises. The MRI scans taken after the eight-week program revealed increased gray matter density in the hippocampus (important for learning and memory) and in structures associated with compassion and self-awareness."
"The investigators also found that participant-reported reductions in stress were associated with decreased gray matter density in the amygdala, which plays a role in anxiety and stress."
Link to Full Article
The positive effects of meditation have been known in the East for thousands of years, but the practice only started gaining popularity in Western society in the mid-20th century. It wasn't until the 1960's that researchers began studying the effects of mediation and learning of its many benefits. In the last 50 years scientific research has consistently indicated that the daily practice of meditation provides both mental and physical health benefits. Until recently, researchers have had a very limited understanding of how meditation causes these positive changes.
This article, posted on January 25, 2011 in the health section of U.S. News and World Report, discusses the most recent research findings regarding this age-old practice. The results of this study(as well as several others) indicate that the regular practice of meditation causes structural changes in the brain. Increased density in the gray matter of the hippocampus and amygdala were observed after only two months of daily practice. Neuroscience continues to provide proof of the brain's amazing plasticity. Practicing meditation capitalizes on the brain's capacity for change, and translates to signifcant imporvements in daily life. It is never too late to start!
Link To The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine