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Physical effects of meditation on our brain

Physical effects of meditation on our brain

Study on the impact of meditation on the brain

Recently Harvard researchers have shown that practicing meditation regularly thickens the cerebral cortex. Apparently our cerebral cortex thins as we age, but in people who meditate regularly, their gray matter tends to have the opposite effect, that is, it tends to thicken.

The study was attended by 20 experienced meditators and their brain was compared with that of 15 people who had not meditated in their lives. During the study, the subjects accustomed to meditate performed this function, while the others thought about what they wanted.

All participants were adults and came from a wide range of professions (except 4 who were actually masters of meditation or yoga).

The results showed that people who meditated an average of 40 minutes a day showed an increase in the thickness of gray matter compared to non-meditators. It should be noted that those who had been meditating for more years showed greater changes in the structure of the brain, which suggests that meditation is the cause of the increase in gray matter.

The evidenced thickening seems little, it actually amounts to between 0.01016 and 0.2032 centimeters, however, this difference is more than significant, so more studies are planned to examine how this change could affect the health of a meditator.

The cause of why meditation manages to counteract the thinning of the cerebral cortex over time is still unknown, but it has been shown that meditation reverses the aging of the brain.

The researchers point out that monks and yogis suffer the same diseases as the rest of us as they age, but they claim they have a greater attention and memory capacity so you will enjoy a lucid old age.

A simple meditation exercise

To reach a meditative state, we must relax the body, and concentrate the mind on a single thing, which we call the object of meditation.

One way to meditate is to take our breathing as an object of meditation. I propose the following exercise:

1. Relax your body gradually. Starting from the head, and gradually descending to the feet, focus your attention zone by zone a few seconds. Feel each muscle relax. You will probably feel a tingle.

2. With your body already relaxed, focus on your breathing. Feel the air enter through your nose. Feel it fill your lungs. Observe and feel intensely all the sensations involved in breathing.

3. Count your breaths, from 1 to 5. When you reach five, start the account again from one.

4. If you lose your concentration, return as soon as possible to concentrate on your breathing, and start counting from one.

The exercise is simple, but not simple. Lor ideal would be to keep us about 15 minutes completely focused on our breathing. Try it and - unless you are already a veteran in the art of meditation - you will see how your mind rushes to generate thoughts that divert attention, losing concentration. If you are a beginner, these interruptions will probably take no more than a few seconds to appear. But with practice and perseverance, you will be able to keep your concentration for longer and longer. The ideal is to perform this exercise twice a day, preferably in the morning and at night, although it can be at any other time.

David Álvarez García
Therapist

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