Meditation has been scientifically proven to offer a lot of pretty amazing health benefits.
With just a few minutes of meditation per day, you can  manage stress, reduce negative emotions, increase self-awareness, decrease anxiety, enhance your creativity, and boost your tolerance to stressors. On the physical side of things, you can decrease your risk of a wide range of health problems—everything from cancer to depression to chronic pain to heart disease.
But according to one study from 2011 , meditation can offer a fascinating benefit few of us are really aware of: it can rebuild your brain matter!
The 2011 study was an 8-week program that investigated the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (a form of meditation therapy) on the subjects’ brain matter. For 8 weeks, the subjects underwent the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, daily participating in meditations that helped them to focus on non-judgemental awareness of their state of mind, emotions, and physical sensations. Guided audio meditations helped the participants to track their daily time spent in meditation.
After the 8-week program, the participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire describing their daily use of the mindfulness techniques, as well as answer some baseline questions to analyze their awareness and mindfulness. The questionnaire, together with the guided audios, determined that the participants spent an average of 27 minutes in the mindfulness exercises every day. However, in addition to the significant improvements in their mindfulness questionnaire results, these 27 minutes per day led to some serious changes in their brain matter.
MRI scans taken before and after the 8-week program revealed visible thickening and increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a significant role in memory and learning. Other structures in the brain, specifically those involved in introspection, self-awareness, and compassion, also showed significant thickening.
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But that’s not all!
The participants also reported a noticeable decrease in their stress levels as a result of the test. MRI scans also revealed that the gray-matter density in the amygdala had decreased. The amygdala is a part of the brain that plays a role in stress and anxiety. The stress reduction wasn’t just a mental change—the mindfulness had physically changed their brains to decrease stress on a neurological level!
As the 2011 study’s first author stated in an interview with The Harvard Gazette , “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”
That right there is the important takeaway from this piece: you are in control of your life, wellness, and mental health. You have the power to not only improve your emotional wellbeing, but you can actually alter your brain matter and change the structure of your brain for the better!
The key to this change: meditation.
Meditation is an absolutely vital tool that deserves a prominent place in your daily life. Start your day with a gratefulness meditation to bring positivity into your morning. Throughout the day, anytime you feel stressed or worried, meditate to help bring calm and focus to your racing, anxious thoughts. At night, come down from an overstimulating, hectic day with a mindfulness meditation to process your emotions and relax your mind and body.
As the study proved, you don’t need to spend hours in meditation every day. With just an average of 27 minutes per day for 8 weeks, the participants of this study saw noticeable, quantifiable change in their brain matter—as well as in their emotional health and stress levels. All you need is just a few minutes every day, perhaps even a few times a day, and you’ll begin to notice changes right away.
Don’t know how to meditate? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.
Zonia has a broad video catalog of guided meditations to help you relax, calm your racing thoughts, and soothe your overworked body. These simple meditations are short (all 5 to 10 minutes long) and easy to follow along. All you have to do is get comfortable, close your eyes, and let the soothing music and relaxing voice take you on a journey to better mental health and self-awareness.
Find out more by visiting our video library at www.zonia.com and testing out the guided audio meditations for yourself. You’ll notice a world of difference within a matter of minutes, and your brain and body will begin to change for the better—all thanks to the power of meditation.
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