by Lorri Amsden
Science is beginning to prove what Buddhist monks have known all along, that those who engage in daily meditation permanently change the way their brains function. That the simple act of sitting quietly as you shift your attention to your breath, following as it slowing enters and leaves your body, not only allows for the cultivation of regenerative peace, but a myriad of new studies have found that this ancient practice can profoundly change the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other and therefore how we think.
Dr. Judson Brewer, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, published a study that found that meditation appears to change the way the brain works and could give meditators a leg up; not only on handling stress and finding happiness, but also with facing illness and dealing with mental disorders. “Understanding how meditation works will aid investigation into a host of diseases”. “We know that ‘meditation has been shown to help in variety of health problems, such as helping people quit smoking, cope with cancer, and even prevent psoriasis,” says Brewer.
Patients subscribing to a 20-minute daily practice, learn the ability to switch off areas of the brain associated with psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. “Conversely, the hallmarks of many forms of mental illness is a preoccupation with one’s own thoughts, a condition meditation seems to affect. This gives us some nice cues as to the neural mechanisms of how it might be working clinically.”
Eileen Luders, an assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, has found that meditation physically alters the brain and that long-term meditators have large amounts of gyrification, or a “folding” of the cortex, which allows the brain to process information faster. In a press release she states, “The insula [in the cortex] has been suggested to function as a hub for autonomic, affective and cognitive integration,” “Meditators are known to be masters in introspection and awareness as well as emotional control and self-regulation, so the findings make sense that the longer someone has meditated, the higher the degree of folding in the insula.”
Lorri Amsden is a wife and mother of four who strives to live consciously in tune with the seasons. As a writer, eco-activist and the founder of Liminal Landscapes, a portal for dimensional living, she is dedicated to raising the consciousness of her community through the teaching and practicing of organic gardening, eco awareness, healthy sustainable living and tapping into the delightful creative energy flowing all around us.