Many of us become concerned about the effects of aging as the years pass by.
Suddenly, we may be concerned with:
- Preserving our youth
- Wrinkle-free skin
- Our natural hair (without the gray)
- A physically fit body for better strength and continued flexibility (without the aches and pains)
But while we’re making these youthful improvements through skin creams, physical activity and a healthier lifestyle and diet, we may be forgetting the effects of aging on one of our most important body parts – our brains.
Well, luckily keeping our brains youthful and working at their best is a pretty easy feat to accomplish – Just keep meditating!
Becoming Years Younger Than Your Age
Researchers have linked meditation to a slower rate of age-related brain degeneration by reducing the volume of gray matter.
What does this mean for non-scientists who may not have a background in brain functions? Essentially, it means that through meditation, your brain can be literally years younger than your actual age.
The study began at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) under the direction of lead neurologist Eileen Luders.
During the study, the research team examined the brains of 100 people which included 50 who practiced meditation regularly, and 50 who did not.
The participants ranged in both age and background, (with a median age of 51.4), and the team of scientists used high-resolution MRI technology to conduct brain scans and examine the physical make-up of each individual’s minds.
And the results found that the meditator’s brains were approximately 7.5 years younger than their non-meditating counterparts.
Is Age Just a Number?
Now, the term “age” may be a bit confusing, as it’s not necessarily referring to an exact mark in years, but rather a gauge of what a brain is supposed to look like at any given point in our development.
For example, people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease tend to have brains that are ten years older than the person’s biological age.
And starting in our mid to late 20s, our brain’s age – like the rest of our bodies – begins to show. During this period, the volume and weight of our brain starts to deteriorate, and the process is ongoing from here.
Let's Talk White Matter
Previous research into meditation’s effect on the brain demonstrated that people who practice meditation have less age-related degradation in the white matter of the brain.
So the UCLA team decided to explore further and build on these findings.
The study’s co-authors reported that they had originally expected to find small and exact effects in specific regions of the brain. However, they were surprised to find widespread results that seemed to encompass the entire mind.
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. And it’s already garnered attention among doctors, scientists and everyday meditation fans alike.
After all, if you can keep your mind fit through meditation, it’s an easy anti-aging prevention measure.
So keep up your regular practice. The study also suggested that the longer you practice, the higher the benefits.
And take comfort in knowing that while we may get physically older, through meditation, our brains can stay active and young.
Having a professional teacher on your side will go a long way in getting you started. Once you’re on the path, you’ll be amazed at how far meditation will take you.