Relax and Unwind with a Meditation Practice
It is estimated that the average person has between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of thoughts that can all build on each other.
What if instead piling these thoughts together, there was a practice that could help you unwind, was accessible, easy, and fun, and left you with the mental clarity you needed to respond in the next stressful situation?
Meditation is that practice and there are scientific studies that prove that it can help you be the best version of yourself.
With studies conducted by institutions like Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it’s been proven that meditation can reduce stress, decrease cellular aging, help alleviate depression and anxiety, and treat chronic pain, amongst others.
Take a look at some of the incredible benefits of meditation.
Lots of meditation articles talk about how the practice helps with stress, but there is a reason for that, because meditation truly does help you unwind.
Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist with Harvard University, conducted a study and found four parts of the brain that changed during an 8-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction regime.
When the participants were put through an MRI, scans showed that the area of the human brain that regulates stress, fear, and anxiety, called the amygdala, decreased in size after eight weeks.
Another small study presented last year at the 2018 Experimental Biology Meeting researchers found that a single meditation session could help reduce anxiety and reverse the physical and psychological toll of stress on the body.
Ever wish you could recall a memory more rapidly or miss how your brain made connections when you were younger?
Memories degrade overtime because of a reduction in gray matter in our frontal cortex, the area of our brain responsible for memory and executive decision making.
However, studies show that a 50-year-old meditator can have the same amount of gray matter in their frontal cortex as a 25-year-old.
In addition to a decrease in the amygdala, Sara Lazar’s study also showed an increase in the left hippocampus which involves learning, memory, and emotional regulation as well as the temporal parietal junction which promotes empathy and perspective taking.
There is no question that sleep is an important part of any wellness routine, and is essential for us to function over the course of our daily lives.
Many people don’t get a restful night’s sleep. According to the National Institute of Health about 30 percent of the general population complains of sleep disruption, and 10 percent have associated symptoms of daytime functional impairment.
For those people, mediation may be an answer to a better, deeper sleep.
A study in JAMA Internal Medicine talks about how 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation a day has been shown to improve the quality of sleep in adults with moderate to chronic sleep disturbances.
The study concluded that formalized mindfulness-based interventions can remedy sleep problems in older adults in the short term as well as reducing sleep-related daytime impairment.
In addition to having positive physical effects on our body, meditation also increases empathy and how we relate to others.
Lazar’s study saw an increase in the hippocampus, the center of your brain that is responsible for empathy, but there are other studies that suggest meditation has an effect on empathy.
A study conducted by Northeastern University and published in Psychological Science, decided to test the theory that maybe mindfulness could help us be more compassionate to our fellow humans.
Paul Condon recruited 39 people from the Boston area and placed them in two experimental groups. One attended an 8-week mindfulness class and the other was placed on a waitlist for the course.
After the eight weeks the participants returned individually to take tests that would measure their attention and memory. Participants entered a waiting room with three chairs, two of which were occupied by actors. The test came when a third person (an actor) entered the waiting room on crutches, a boot meant for a broken foot, and wincing in pain.
The actor on crutches would lean up against the wall sighing audibly since there was nowhere for them to sit, and, by design, the two seated actors ignored the one standing.
What Condon’s study concluded was that while only 16 percent of subjects offered to help, half of those who meditated (10 out of 20) spontaneously offered up their seat to the person in pain.
Along with memory, empathy, and a lighter persona, meditation has also been shown to improve focus.
Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara ran a study that put undergraduate students through a two-week mindfulness practice and found that their focus improved.
The study was conducted by placing 48 students in two random groups: one group attended a mindfulness class and the other attended a class on the basics of nutrition. Both classes were taught by experts, and at the end of each both groups of students were given both a memory and a modified version of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
Those in the mindfulness group showed significantly higher improvement, showing that meditation could be another tool to add to the test-prep arsenal .
Decreases Cellular Aging
At the end of each human chromosome is a section called the telomere. Over time, the shortening of the telomeres causes our cells to age.
A recent study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, looked at how different types of meditation influenced telomere length.
The new study followed 176 participants with no meditation experience for a 12-week period. The groups ages ranged from 35 to 64, and all were based in the Durham and Orange County North Carolina areas.
Each participant was randomly placed in one of three 6-week workshops: a loving-kindness meditation workshop, a mindfulness meditation workshop, or a waitlist control group.
At the beginning and end of the study, the participants underwent a blood test to see how significantly their telomeres had shortened.
While all the participants telomeres shortened, those who practiced loving-kindness meditation showed significantly less shortening.
Ready to See How Meditation Can Benefit You?
Want to see how the benefits of meditation can help you become a better version of yourself and the people in your life?
Take a look at our meditation schedule below and find a meditation class that fits into your lifestyle.
All of our classes are taught by experienced meditation instructors who want you to leave class with mental clarity, and feeling lighter than when you came in. Our studio provides a decision detox environment where you can focus on yourself and find your balance.