Science puts mediation to the test, can it really transform your mind and body?
In the recent ABC Catalyst, Dr Graham Phillips embarks on an eight week meditation course to find out if the ancient art lives up to the current hype. New research shows that it can affect the body, the mind and even alter the structure of the brain.
You can find the full video on ABC iView:
Catalyst – Meditation: Can It Really Change You?
Today meditation is practiced by top class athletes and used in big corporations. New research shows that meditation boosts memory and treats depression and may even slow the ageing process.
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation where we focus on the present moment, on the body and breath. Mindfulness meditation is the most researched type of meditation.
How do you meditate? Simply focus on the breath and present. When the mind starts to wander, notice it and bring it back, gently without any further thinking.
Some scientists like Dr. Richard Chambers, an expert in mindfulness, say it can boost physical and mental health and improve cognitive abilities.
With practice, we can train ourselves to focus on the present moment to build our “mindfulness muscle”. That will strengthen the prefrontal cortex like a muscle and with practice it will improve:
- reaction time
- faster decision making
Dr. Neil Bailey, neuroscientist, put meditation to the test. He measured Dr. Phillips memory, reaction time and focus before and after the eight week meditation program.
When Dr Graham Phillips returned to Monash University for his tests results, they were very positive. He performed better over all in the test, including better memory and focus, and he used less energy. His reaction time was also 50 per cent better at the tasks.
Physically his brain changed, and the grey matter in some parts of the brain increased 22.5 per cent, with new brain cells growing. It’s like his brain was getting younger and heavier.
Can meditation change the structure of the brain?
Scientists in Howard Uni measured the effect of meditation and found that it can physically change the structure of the brain, specifically the grey matter. Anything you do has an effect on the brain and mindfulness meditation increases the grey matter in parts of brain which control focus, and inhibit impulses and emotions.
The possibility of a changing brain is exciting!
Professor Elissa Epel, a psychologist from San Francisco said that their research into meditation showed positive effects on the body. It can reduce stress and inflammation, and slows down ageing. The research suggests that in the cells which protect our genes, which naturally get smaller with age, they are actually stabilised and gets bigger from mindfulness meditation.
Does meditation have an effect on mental health?
Mindfulness meditation reduces the chance of depressive relapses and the latest significant finding suggests that meditation is as effective as medication. Meditation breaks depressive thoughts and trains the brain to focus.
When depressed, the brain has depressing thoughts and is overactive. When you get stressed it is hard to meditate, however meditation will help you feel more relaxed. You’ll notice the stress but you don’t get sucked into it, and you will increase your resilience.
Meditation today is used even in the prisons, as it helps the inmates make a deep shift and they learn what triggers their anger.
We offer a eight week Mindfulness meditation class for the workplace. To book your meditation class please contact us on 1300 217 119 or send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org