The stress-reducing benefits of this ancient Zen practice are well documented, but how meditation works to improve well-being is little known.
That said, a new study has revealed that meditation may enhance key structures in the brain responsible for learning, memory, and emotion control.
Mind Your Gray Matter
In the small study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were taken before and after an 8-week program that combined about 30 minutes a day of full-body progressive relaxation, yoga,
and seated meditation.
Compared to a control group, the m indfulness meditation participants experienced an
increase in gray matter concentration in the hippocampus, the cerebellum, and other key brain regions responsible for cognitive function
and emotion control.
The researchers suggest meditation may be an effective tool to reverse certain downsized brain regions commonly seen in people suffering from depression and anxiety.
(Related: Learn more about how to cope with anxiety and depression.)