A couple of years ago it was discovered that the brains of those who meditate on a regular basis, over a long period of time, were larger and had more gray matter than the brains of those in a control group. More recent studies have shown that not only were the early studies accurate, but it turns out that those long-term meditators actually have stronger connections between the different regions of their brain, and their brains show considerably fewer signs of aging than those who don’t practice this ancient art.
These studies used imaging technology and the results were astounding. It appeared that the meditation group showed stronger connectivity in all regions of the brain. Eileen Lueders, Ph.D., a visiting professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imagining, who was involved in this study said, “Our results suggest that long term meditators have white-matter fibers that are either more numerous, more dense or more insulated throughout the brain."
The study’s authors caution that the nature verses nurture question still exists with these findings. Dr. Leuders said, “It is possible that meditators might have different brains to begin with.” It also seems likely that those who chose to meditate seriously have a certain propensity for a healthy lifestyle that may contribute to a healthier, more youthful brain.
I have read other studies and heard anecdotal evidence of meditation as an effective tool for a number of different aliments from heart disease to infertility. I often recommend the practice to my clients who suffer from anxiety related disorders. I have seen the benefits of meditation in many of my clients over the years, and I feel pretty convinced that it is an activity well worth investing some time to learn and practice. The quest for a younger healthy brain certainly seems like a worthy endeavor!