New brain research findings have suggested that long-term meditation may lead to less age-related gray matter atrophy in the human brain.
Since the seventies, life expectancy around the world has risen dramatically, with people living more than 10 years longer – mainly due to improved medication and lifestyle. That’s very good news.
The not so good news is that starting when people are in their mid-to-late-20s, the brain begins to wither — its volume and weight begin to decrease – and yes, this seem so early in life. As this occurs, the brain can begin to lose some of its functional abilities and depending on the person, this can be minor or major.
So, although people might be living somewhat longer, the years gained are often marred with increased risks for mental illness and possible neurodegenerative disease.
Confirming what I and many others have said for generations, a new study shows meditation could be one way to minimise those risks.
Preserving Gray Matter
Building on their earlier work that indicated that people who meditate have less age-related atrophy in the brain’s white matter, a new study by UCLA researchers has discovered that meditation appeared to help preserve the brain’s gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons.
I have also said, as Gururaj before me, that meditation awakens dormant brain cells, so this could indeed be a mixture of atrophy but also of newly awakened brain cells.
The scientists looked directly at the association between age and gray matter. They compared 50 people who had mediated for many years and 50 who had not. People in both groups showed a loss of gray matter as they aged, as we would expect, but the researchers found among those who meditated, the volume of gray matter did not decline as much as it did among those who didn’t. Great news!
The research is documented in an article that appears in the current online edition of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Magnitude of Difference
Dr. Florian Kurth, a co-author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, said the researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the difference. A further sign of the benefits of meditation over a long term period.
“We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” he said. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”
“In that light, it seems essential that longer life expectancies do not come at the cost of a reduced quality of life,” said Dr. Eileen Luders, first author and assistant professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “While much research has focused on identifying factors that increase the risk of mental illness and neurodegenerative decline, relatively less attention has been turned to approaches aimed at enhancing cerebral health.”
Regeneration = Longevity – Tratak Helps!
So, we have further confirmation that meditation is regenerative and slows the degenerative processes.
A visual form of meditation called ‘Tratak’ that is taught during the FISU Meditation course, is responsible for cellular regeneration through the secretions of additional melatonin and other hormones when the pineal gland is naturally stimulated through this practice.
(The red areas show brain regions affected by gray matter loss; the researchers found people who meditated had better preservation of gray matter. Image credit: Dr. Eileen Luders)