Meditation Results in Long-Term Health to Mind and Body

Meditation Results in Long-Term Health to Mind and Body

Posted on: December 13th, 2017 by Neurohealth Associates

1. Meditation improves our resiliency to stress

According to neuroscience research, mindfulness practices dampen activity in our amygdala and increase the connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, both of which help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. “These changes are trait-like: they appear not simply during the explicit instruction to perceive the stressful stimuli mindfully, but even in the ‘baseline’ state’” for longer-term meditators, which supports the possibility that mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more permanent way.

2. Meditation increases our compassionate concern for others

While many of us may espouse compassionate attitudes, we can also suffer when we see others suffering, which can create a state of paralysis or withdrawal. But studies have shown that practicing loving-kindness for others increases our willingness to take action to relieve suffering. It appears to do this by lessening amygdala activity in the presence of suffering, while also activating circuits in the brain that are connected to good feelings and love. “The cultivation of a loving concern for other people’s well-being has a surprising and unique benefit: the brain circuitry for happiness emerges, along with compassion,” write the authors.

3. Meditation augments our capacity to focus and pay attention

It’s not too surprising that meditation would affect attention, since many practices focus on this very skill. And, in fact, researchers have found that meditation helps to combat habituation—the tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Studies have shown that improved attention seems to last up to five years after mindfulness training, suggesting trait-like changes are possible. This outcome of meditation is particularly important, because it “undergirds a huge range of what makes us effective in the world—everything from learning, to realizing we’ve had a creative insight, to seeing a project through to its end.”

4. Meditation helps us to feel lighter and less self-focused

Meditation leads to some improvements in markers of health. Many claims have been made about mindfulness and health; but sometimes these claims are hard to substantiate or may be mixed up with other effects. For example, when it comes to pain—where our psychology plays a clear role in our experience of pain—it’s now clear that meditation can lessen pain without directly addressing its physiological source. However, there is some good evidence that meditation affects physiological indices of health, too. For example, practicing meditation lessons the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors, particularly for long-term meditators. Also, meditators seem to have increased activity of telomerase—an enzyme implicated in longer cell life and, therefore, longevity.

Credit: Greater Good Magazine

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Neuro Fact

Information is only stored in short-term memory for about 20 minutes; when information is connected to prior knowledge and emotion, it can be stored in long-term memory

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