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New Harvard Study Reveals What Actually Happens to the Brain When You Meditate

Meditate_Tapasya_Dhyana

Meditate_Tapasya_Dhyana

While we commonly associate meditation with a more peaceful, zen lifestyle, science can now explain exactly what happens to the brain when you clear your mind and find your happy place.

A new study from Harvard Medical School and the University of Siena in Italy has shown that meditation makes significant changes to the parts of the brain that manage your emotions and perception.

The study took 24 participants who had never meditated before through an eight-week course on “mindfulness based stress reduction,” or simply just meditation. Each week, participants spent 2.5 hours practicing different meditation techniques and then meditated for 45 minutes every day. Psychological evaluations and MRIs of each participant were also taken before and after the eight-week session.

The team of researchers compared their findings with a control group who did not go through any meditation exercises. They found that some critical changes had occurred in the brains of those who meditated.

“We found a significant cortical thickness increase in the right insula and the somatosensory cortex of MBSR trainees, coupled with a significant reduction of several psychological indices related to worry, state anxiety, depression and alexithymia.”

So that normal people can understand: As the part of the brain that manages consciousness, emotion and self-awareness (right insula) grew and became thicker, factors that relate to anxiety, depression and emotional dysfunction decreased significantly.

The study shows that like any exercise, meditation works out the brain, increasing perception, self-awareness and emotional stability while reducing stress. You might now want to think twice about setting aside an hour every day to exercise your brain through meditation — it literally makes your brain bigger.

h/t: Mic

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