Keep Your Brain Young with Meditation

As people age, their brain naturally loses weight and volume.  This change starts to occur as early as the mid to late 20’s.  Research has shown that people who meditate, tend to lose less brain mass over time than those that do not meditate.  Specifically, there is less loss of white brain matter.

The white matter of the brain is composed of nerve fibers and myelin. The nerve fibers form the connections between the nerve cells.  It acts as a conductor and insulator for gray brain matter.  Gray brain matter is where the neurological center lies, it controls speech, motor skills, memory, etc.

Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation, which is practiced by more than 15 million Americans and many more around the world, has a variety of health benefits.

Meditation:

Benefits of Meditation

How Meditation Benefits Your Brain

    • Improves sleep
    • Increases inner peace and tranquility
    • Reduces chronic pain
    • Reduces stress and anxiety
    • Reduces depression
    • Boosts attention span
    • Improves the immune system
    • Helps with weight loss
    • Boosts memory
    • Improves heart health and lowers blood pressure
    • Improves well-being and promotes deeper relationships

There is now evidence that meditation may also help keep the brain young.

Keeping the Brain Young

A team of researchers from UCLA wondered if meditation not only helps preserve white brain matter, but also preserves the gray matter of people who meditate as well.

The study compared people having years of meditation experience with those who had none.  The meditators had been doing so for four to 40 years with an average of 20 years of experience with meditation practice.  The age range of the study participants included people in their mid 20’s to late 70’s. The study was made up of 28 men and 22 women.

They found that large parts of the gray matter in the brains of those who meditated seemed to be better preserved than those who did not meditate.  They found the meditators still experienced a decline in gray matter with age, but less than non-meditators.

The researchers noted the positive outcome of the study, but caution people reviewing the results; they were unable to establish a direct link to meditation and the preservation of gray matter.  Too many other factors may come into play, including lifestyle choices, personality traits, and genetic brain differences.

In 2012, UCLA conducted another study which showed that meditators have more gyrifications (folding of the cortex) in their brain which may contribute to an ability to process information faster than usual.

Meditation appears to allow practitioners to maintain both white and gray matter and form increased connections in the brain; it seems to keep the brain young.

Along with its positive effects on white and gray brain matter, meditation appears to have a positive effect on other bodily functions.

Meditation and Anti-Aging Benefits

Brain Changes with Meditation

Meditation Helps The Brain Stay Young And        Healthy

Meditation has several anti-aging benefits.

    • Meditation increases DHEA which facilitates the production of the hormones that maintain fat and mineral metabolism.
    • Meditation increases Melatonin which acts as an antioxidant, supports immune function, and fights depression.
    • Meditation decreases cortisol levels, the stress hormone that encourages the body to retain dangerous fat associated with heart disease and diabetes.

The Effects of Meditation

Part of feeling and maintaining a youthful mental outlook centers around the quality of of one’s thinking patterns.  Meditators learn to quiet mental chaos and build their ability to concentrate.

High Vibration

What goes on inside is what matters

They experience greater clarity of thought and tend to react less and respond more to circumstances.  In short, they maintain their ability to be highly adaptive and think quickly with the additional benefit of choosing their response to situations rather than reacting to them.

How to Meditate

There are several schools of thought as to “how/when” one should meditate.  Most will say it should be at least twice a day for at least 20 minutes to an hour.  Many schools of of thought recommend a meditation to start the day and one to close it.  However, there are also some that say meditating too close to bedtime can actually disrupt sleep by energizing the body too much. 

My personal belief is that you cannot meditate wrong.  Try out different times of the day and feel what is right for you.  Consistency is probably the most important thing about meditating, whenever you choose or for however long you choose.

Here is a list of the most well known forms of meditation and then I will briefly discuss my personal favorite.  Play with the different varieties and find a method that fits your personality and lifestyle the best.

My personal favorite is called “The 60 Second Workout”.  It is simply sitting for 60 seconds listening to a piece of music and not doing anything.  Nothing to work at, nothing to think about.  I allow my body to balance itself and just experience.  I find it very refreshing and allows me to focus on the rest of my day.

Getting Started

It can seem like an impossible task when first starting to meditate.  The mind races and thoughts run rampant.  It takes patience and persistence to train the mind to focus and settle into a meditation practice.  The first step is to decide which form of meditation you wish to practice, and then learn how to do it.  If possible, joining a meditation group or going to a class can be very helpful.  Knowing that other people have had the same meditation challenge and have overcome them, makes it easier to continue a meditation practice.

If there is no group or class available, there are many books and DVD’s available online that can be utilized.

Being consistent in your meditation practice is the key to success.  No matter when you decide to meditate, or what form of meditation you choose, the more you practice, the more natural it will become.  The benefits of a consistent meditation practice can develop in a few weeks with continued practice preserving your brain’s youthful dynamics for years to come.

Share your meditation experiences by clicking the Comments at the top of the page.  I would love to know how meditation enhances your life and helps keep your brain young.