Do you practice meditation?
You may find you are more focused and productive, even after a few weeks or months of starting a regular meditation regime.
But, what about after a few years?
Researchers conducted a wave of studies on meditation in the past decade. And because of these, they are now able to start collecting data on how meditation impacts the brain after years of practice. As it turns out, the results certainly look promising.
A Recent Study
In fact, a team at the University of California Davis in 2011 launched an initial study which recently made headlines in early 2018. Its popularity is due to using years of data to conclude that meditation’s effects last well after your practice is over.
The study enlisted a few dozen participants to attend an intensive three-month meditation training session in 2011. The aim was to help the participants improve their attentiveness, as well as their compassion and kindness.
The researchers followed up six months, 18 months, and a full seven years after the practice was over. They wanted to see the effect on the individuals’ cognitive abilities.
The team made some interesting discoveries:
The Results Prove It All
First of all, after the initial three-month session, all of the participants continued to practice meditation in some way. At least 85% of the participants had attended another meditation class or retreat since the initial introduction to the practice.
And virtually all of the folks in the study still meditated on a daily basis during the time of the first follow up.
The second discovery to stand out was the effect that years of meditating had on the individuals’ brain and cognitive functions.
Immediately after the retreat, the researchers found that the participants had better cognitive abilities.
These included an ability to concentrate, solve problems, and retain memories. As well as new skill sets, and essentially have a sharper and clearer mind.
And seven years later, the researchers discovered: this was still the case!
In fact, older adults had initially attended the intense three-month meditation retreat. They still practiced regularly! As a result, they did not demonstrate the typical patterns of age-related cognitive decline.
The Bottom Line
The results from the study are essentially good news across the board for doctors, researchers, and everyday folks alike.
An author in the study notes: meditation has the “potential to alter longitudinal trajectories of cognitive change across a person’s life.” Hence, folks still stay sharp years after they start practicing meditation.
And the results align with similar studies examining meditation‘s effects on Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
In numerous studies, researchers have linked meditation to a decreased risk in developing these conditions, as well as a slower progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia in individuals who have already been diagnosed.
So if you want to stay sharp for the weeks, months, and even years to come, keep up- start now- your meditation practice!
Considering the benefits will linger for years due to inherent changes in the brain, meditation is an easy step towards better health to help you perform a your best for the long term.
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