How Meditation Changes the Brain and Body

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A recent NYtimes article summarizes A study published in Biological Psychiatry scientifically validates the idea that meditation can change our brain states and improve our health. A team of researchers recruited 35 unemployed men and women who were “seeking work and experiencing considerable stress,” Reynolds writes. The researchers took blood samples, gave brain scans, and taught half of the 35 unemployed fellows mindfulness meditation. The researchers then taught the other half (the control group) a sham mindfulness meditation that focused on “relaxation and distracting oneself from worries and stress.” The mindfulness meditation group was encouraged to pay attention to their feelings, while the sham group was encouraged to ignore their bodies, joke around, and chat.

At the end of the three day experiment, the researchers found that brain scan differences only showed up in the mindfulness group, specifically in the parts of the brain that have to do with our ability to process stress, pay attention, and remain calm. Dr. Creswell and his colleagues noted, however, that ‘‘we still have no idea about the ideal dose [of meditation].”

What do you think is the ideal dose of mindfulness meditation?

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