Want to be forever young? One of the secrets to keep you young forever may be within everyone’s reach. Just take time out from day-to-day concerns, and simply meditate. Close your eyes and focus all your attention on one thing: your breath. That’s it! As thoughts come up, slowly, you clear your mind, and turn your focus to the act of breathing and exhaling. A simple exercise that can change your life if done regularly. There are a lot of scientific studies that have shown that physical exercise is a powerful tool to slow down the effects of aging. Among other benefits, regular exercise helps us maintain our strength and flexibility as we age. Now, it turns out that there is an easy way to slow down the aging process of our brain.
A study by Harvard University shows that through regular meditation you can prevent brain aging, keeping you young forever. Neuroscientist Sara Lazar, of Mass General and Harvard Medical School, started studying meditation by accident. She sustained running injuries training for the Boston Marathon and her physical therapist told her to stretch. So Lazar took up yoga. «The yoga teacher made all sorts of claims, that yoga would increase your compassion and open your heart» said Lazar «and I’d think, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m here to stretch.’ But I started noticing that I was calmer. I was better able to handle more difficult situations. I was more compassionate and open hearted, and able to see things from others’ points of view». Eventually, she looked up the scientific literature on mindfulness meditation (a category into which yoga can fall). She found the ever-increasing body of evidence that shows that meditation decreases stress, depression and anxiety, reduces pain and insomnia, and increases quality of life.
According to Sara Lazar, we have all heard that meditation produces feelings of relaxation and peace, and it is also good for reducing stress. But now, for the first time, scientists have the real proof that meditation can actually reverse the aging process. Using sophisticated medical technology, researchers have shown that meditation produces measurable changes in the crucial parts of the brain that control emotion, memory and learning.
During the 8-week study, Harvard researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 2 groups. One group practiced meditation exercises for 27 minutes per day during the 8-week period, and the other group did not meditate during the 8-week study. Both groups also completed questionnaires before and after the study that measured participants’ levels of stress and anxiety. Magnetic resonance imaging of the participants’ brains were performed before and after the study. At the end of the 8-week study, magnetic resonance imaging showed marked differences between the 2 groups in crucial areas of the brain that control emotion and thought.
The researchers found that the hippocampus, which usually decreases with age, was thicker in people who practiced meditation after 8 weeks. The hippocampus controls memory, learning, self-awareness, and compassion, functions that are associated with meditation. The amygdala, which controls emotions such as stress and anxiety, showed a decrease in its density in people who practiced meditation during the 8-week study. The researchers associated this decrease with the reduction reported by meditation practitioners, but this did not happen with the other group. Seems that meditation could keep you young forever.
Meditators report feeling less stress and anxiety than the control group who did not meditate. Meditation causes you to slow down repeatedly and practice focusing on your breathing. This can create the habit of stopping before reacting rather than just react without thinking. Research has repeatedly shown that meditating regularly can keep your mind agile and clear. According to another study, people who practice meditation show better activities in areas of the brain associated with attention and concentration. Their minds are more agile, their ability to concentrate and memorize is stronger, and they have a greater sense of well-being than people who do not practice meditation!
According to scientists, meditation does something very special with your body and mind: it slows down the aging process and keeps you young forever. Normally, stress can disrupt normal functioning of the body more and more as it accumulates: this is the main cause of the aging process. Meditation removes these tensions and effectively reverses the aging process. Likewise, one can measure objectively whether meditation practitioners have actually become younger and how much this has occurred. Thus, the time invested in the practice of meditation will give you a great return in the future: not only will you live longer, but your quality of life will also be better.