I have always admired those who do yoga. To be able to shut down on what is happening around them and concentrate only on that moment in time.
Truth be told, I have on many occasions tried and failed!
Today, mindfulness wellbeing is so much more emphasised than in my younger years. There are lessons at school about wellbeing, there are assemblies, parents are brought into school to meet with counsellors regularly to be able to work with their children and provide best environment for all.
There is definitely an ever-increasing body of evidence that shows that meditation decreases stress, depression and anxiety, reduces pain and insomnia and increases quality of life.
Neuroscientist Sara Lazar, of Mass General and Harvard Medical School, believes that 50-year-olds can have the brains of 25-year-old if they sat quietly and did nothing for 15 minutes a day.
I actually didn’t know that this would count as meditation or yoga, because I do tend to do that on a regular basis – but I can’t say that my brain is that of a 20 something!
After sustaining running injuries training for the Boston Marathon, Lazar’s physical therapist told her to stretch.
So she took up yoga.
“I started noticing that I was calmer. I was better able to handle more difficult situations and was more compassionate and open hearted,” she says.
Lazar looked at long-term meditators (those with seven to nine years of experience) versus a control group. The results showed that those with a strong meditation background had increased grey matter in several areas of the brain, including the auditory and sensory cortex, as well as insula and sensory regions.
However, the neuroscientist also found that the meditators had more grey matter in another brain region, this time linked to decision-making and working memory: The frontal cortex.
In fact, while most people see their cortexes shrink as they age, 50-year-old meditators in the study had the same amount of grey matter as those half their age!
How long do you have to meditate to see such results?
Well, in the study, participants were told to meditate for 40 minutes a day, but the average ended up being 27 minutes a day.
So it turns out meditating can give you the brain of a 25-year-old.
Now to find what gives us the body of one!
Reem Antoon is a former GDN news editor. She can be reached on: [email protected]