Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reducing Stress through Meditation

Most people if asked whether they'd like to reduce the amount of stress in their lives would answer with a resounding, "Yes!". But most of us don't know how to do it — and, furthermore, the thought of adding "must lower stress levels" to our daunting to-do lists is, well... stressful. However, with more and more research suggesting that meditation successfully lowers the amount of stress hormones in our bodies by changing the way our brains function, meditation is one thing we may actually want to squeeze into our daily routine.

Some Science: In 2011, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) demonstrated meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter. Participants in their study experienced increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus (important for learning and memory), and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection, after just 8 weeks of meditating for ~27 minutes a day. Participants also reported reductions in stress which correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala (our "fight-or-flight" area of the brain associated with anxiety and stress). The team used magnetic resonance imaging to measure their results.

Learn More: Interested in learning how to meditate? Join me for a free mini-class this summer. Check the course calendar for details.

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