I feel such gratitude that there are so many wonderful doctors and scientists in the West now showing a real interest in the research field of the benefits of meditation.
Like so many other accidental meditation practitioners (myself included!) Sarah Lazar, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, stumbled across the benefits of mindfulness practice after attending yoga classes to aid in the rehabilitation of a physical injury.
Since then her interest in the field has lead to meditation research using MRI brain scans to measure differences in the brains of meditators. The results have shown that meditators grow larger brains over time with thickening taking place in regions of the brain associated with attention and memory and emotional processing.
The results indicate support for the claims of regular meditators of a sense of wellbeing, optimism and fluidity that tends to last throughout the day.
Lazar’s previous study focussed on long-term experienced meditation practitioners, whereas this more recent study shows structural brain changes occurred even in people who had never previously meditated, after just 8 weeks of mindfulness training.
Although the affected brain regions showed greater changes in the long-term meditation practitioners, this study shows that changes can come about in as little as 8 weeks.