Quite literally, sustained meditation leads to something called neuroplasticity, which is defined as the brain’s ability to change, structurally and functionally, on the basis of environmental input. For much of the last century, scientists believed that the brain essentially stopped changing after adulthood. But research by University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson has shown that experienced meditators exhibit high levels of gamma wave activity and display an ability to not get stuck on a particular stimulus. That is, they’re automatically able to control their thoughts and reactions.
2) It Increases Gray Matter
A 2005 study on American men and women who meditated a minimum of 40 min. a day, showed they had thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. Which in plain English means their brains were aging at a slower rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with decision making, attention, and memory.
3) It Can Be Better Than Sleeping
In a 2006 study, college students were asked to either sleep, meditate or watch TV. They were then tested on their alertness by being asked to hit a button every time a light flashed on a screen. The meditators did 10% better than the nappers and TV watchers.
4) It’s Better Than Blood Pressure Medication
In 2008, Dr. Randy Zusman, a doctor at the Massachusetts General Hospital, asked patients with medication resistant hypertension, to try a meditation-based relaxation program for three months. After meditating regularly for three months, 40 of the 60 patients showed significant reduction in blood pressure levels. The reason? Relaxation results in the formation of nitric oxide which opens up your blood vessels.
5) It Can Protect Your Telomeres
Telomeres, (the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes), are the new frontier of anti-aging science. Longer telomeres mean that you’re also likely to live longer. Research done by the University of California, Davis’ Shamatha Project has shown that meditators have significantly higher telomerase activity (Telomerase is the enzyme that helps build telomeres), that non-meditators.
6) It Can Slow The Progression Of HIV
A 2008 study on HIV positive patients found that, after an eight-week meditation course, those patients who participated had no decline in their lymphocyte counts verses the non-meditators who showed significant reduction in lymphocyte counts. Lymphocytes or white blood cells are the “brain” of the immune system, and very important for this population. The study also found that lymphocyte levels actually went up with each meditation session.
7) Its Pain Relieving Properties Beat Morphine
Earlier this year, a study conducted by Wake Forest Baptist University found that meditation could reduce pain intensity by 40% and pain discomfort by 57%. Morphine and other pain-relieving drugs typically show a pain reduction of 25%. Meditation works by reducing activity in the somatosensory cortex, and increase activity in other areas of the brain.
Can you imagine being sent to a pain management clinic, and before any pain medication is prescribed, you are enrolled in a four week meditation program? To compliment that, you would also go through a diet and nutrition course, exercise program, and a stress management course. I can dream right?