JUN 24, 2017 5:48 PM PDT

The Science of Meditation


Ommmmm........ommm.....ommmm....Am I relaxed yet? Remember to put green beans on the grocery list. Oh, and pick up the dry cleaning. Stop thinking thoughts! Focus on your breathing. Ommm....is this even working?

As hard as it can be to calm your mind during meditation, even Western science recognizes the benefits that it has for your body and general health. Brain scans have shown that when meditating there is increased activity in regions of the brain related with decreased anxiety and depression, along with increased pain tolerance, memory, self-awareness, and goal-setting. Experienced meditators have also been seen to exhibit different brain waves, with higher levels of alpha waves that are known to be responsible for decreasing feelings of negative mood, tension, sadness, and anger. Furthermore, meditating can even change the size and shape of your brain! People tested after an 8 week meditation program were seen to have increased gray matter in their brains in regions relating to learning, memory, and emotion, while the amygdala, which deals with fear, stress, and blood pressure, had decreased in gray matter.

Meditating can even go so far as to increase your immune system, allowing you to fight back faster and more efficiently against viruses by producing more antibodies. There is even evidence that meditating can lengthen telomeres in your cells, the shortening of which is responsible for some cardiovascular diseases and cancers! So what's the take away from this? Keep breathing and find your om!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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