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rocket science: 10 scientific proofs that meditation heals our body

Faster development of our brain structure, changes on the hormonal levels and a healing impact on the psyche — these are just a few benefits discovered by scientists about the effects of meditation. This practice nowadays attracts not only spirituality gurus, but also people who are on a path of healing. The latter has much evidence, and here we present you 10 of those:

stress less — live more

1. Studies held at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2011 showed that meditation helps to diminish the density of the amygdala — the region of the brain that plays a key role in the formation of emotions. It's physical changes affect the level of stress. In the course of the experiment, for the participants who meditated an average of 27 minutes a day for 2 months, the stress level has naturally decreased.


2. How many articles have you read about cortisol (the stress hormone)? We know — too many. This is completely justified, however, considering how often we have to encounter it face-to-face. If you start meditating for at least 14 days in a row, its level will decrease by almost 50%. This was confirmed by scientists of the University of Ratkkers in 2013: so, the less often our body encounters the influence of cortisol, the higher the quality of sleep and the faster the metabolism.

 

3. The same experts drew attention to the fact that meditators are increasing the production of melatonin, the most important component of the hormonal system. As a generation with a passion for bright screens, artificial lighting and sleepless weekdays, as soon as bright light gets on the retina of our eye, the production of melatonin decreases, and our biological clock fails. However, a regular meditation practice increases the production of this hormone by 98%, and in some cases - by 300%, so that the biorhythms stabilise and rest becomes a true recharge for the organism.

mom is 17 again

4 and 5. Vincent Giampepa, MD and an expert on longevity, found out that people who make time for meditation live longer, as you might guess. Their level of "long-living hormone" (DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone) is 43.7% higher than of those who distrust oriental practices. Science is clearly on the side of the first group: scientists from the University of California found that the positive effects of meditation literally hit all areas of the brain, keeping it in a productive state, regardless of age.

 

6. Here are some more "hormonal" news: somatotropin, which is responsible for our development through adulthood, prolonged memory and cell renewal, secretes less and less with age. Some bodybuilders use injections of it to increase muscle mass. It's a pity only a few of them know that according to research conducted by Indian scientists, the practice of yoga and meditation contributes to a natural increase in its production.

 

7. Another term for you to keep in mind from now on is "telomerase" — an "enzyme of immortality," which allows aging cells to reproduce the way young ones do. That is to say, new DNA sequences recur at the terminal sites of the chromosomes, which would be impossible without telomerase. Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn found that 12-minute meditations for 8 weeks can increase the activity of this enzyme by 43%.

are you crazy?!

8. When your salary is delayed by a week, crappy weather ruins all weekend plans and the alarm clock annoyingly doesn't ring, anxiety boldly enters through your mind window. This condition is well known to those who suffer from generalised anxiety disorder. The Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience organisation has one important observation in this regard: in the presence of this diagnosis, awareness practices reduce the level of anxiety by 39%. It will seem obvious to you, but not everybody believes in minutes of silence as a prescription.

 

9. It's time to admit that avoiding crowds, social situations and stage fright are on the same page. Here, the key problem is worrying about how we look in the eyes of others. Meditation teaches you to switch attention from self-criticism to physical sensations and external objects. The Dalai Lama in the "Book of Joy" advises not to put yourself above or below others, but to build an equal dialogue, as with close friends. Stanford University has an argument in this regard:  after 2 months of meditation, participants of the study who suffered from social disorders, became calmer and adopted a more positive way of assessing themselves. In addition, they could maintain visual contact with others longer, whereas before, they had avoided it by all means.

10. Is meditation a form of medication? In 2014, the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine nodded affirmatively to this question, assessing it in the context of depression. The average value of the effect from both methods is 0:3. Meaning that, the researchers emphasize that the best way is the combination of all three. The magic formula, in their opinion, is: meditation + medication + psychotherapy.

 

There is one simple technique of meditation in jivamukti yoga: on inhalation, you pronounce inwardly "I accept", and on exhalation - "I let it go". Accept health, harmony, inspiration, let go of fears, labels and expectations. With this approach, you have every chance of stable productivity and longevity.

Polina Tsvetkova, psychologist and Gestalt therapist