Meditation Changes Your Brain: New Study Sheds Light

Meditation can literally change your brain.

Researchers have noted for years that there is a difference in brain structure between experienced meditation practitioners and those who have never meditated. Now a new study proves that it is the meditation itself that causes these changes. This small study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, featured 16 people getting an MRI scan both two weeks prior to an 8-week meditation course and two weeks after the course ended.  The students practiced, on average, 27 minutes of mindfulness exercises a day and also participated in a once a week class. The MR images showed increased "grey matter density in the hippocampus," the area of the brain that is known for learning, memory, introspection, compassion, and self-awareness. What this suggests is that the subjects not only have the calming and self-awareness effects of meditation but they would be better able to learn and recall that information later.  Excellent on-the-job skills, no? Me?  I'm thinking of signing up for the 8-week class myself since it's not too far away from where I live.  I might even drag my Mom along with me; it's in her hometown and might help with her fibromyalgia.  I'd like to see if it would help with my tendency to stress eat. Are there any long-term meditation people out there?  I'd love to know your thoughts.  How has daily or regular meditation changed how you live?  Please share. For more information on meditation, check out my posts on Meditation 101: How to Chill Out Without Driving Yourself Crazy and also How to Find Your Zen Without an Om. If you have other links you like, please share them below. Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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7 Responses to Meditation Changes Your Brain: New Study Sheds Light

  1. Jonathan "Not the cookie lady's son" Fields January 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Hey L,

    You can also do the entire course on audio if you like, it’s available as download.

  2. Guzmán January 28, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    Jiddu Krishnamurti telling a joke…

    “There are three monks, who had been sitting in deep meditation for many years amidst the Himalayan snow peaks, never speaking a word, in utter silence. One morning, one of the three suddenly speaks up and says, ‘What a lovely morning this is.’ And he falls silent again. Five years of silence pass, when all at once the second monk speaks up and says, ‘But we could do with some rain.’ There is silence among them for another five years, when suddenly the third monk says, ‘Why can’t you two stop chattering?”

  3. Lisa Johnson January 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Oh! good to know. I’m actually thinking of doing the one mentioned in the study. It’s in my Mom’s hometown and I was planning on dragging her along with me. She really needs a little zen! thanks you, would be good if I need follow up. :-)


  4. Lisa Johnson January 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Heh, Guzman, good one :-)

  5. Brian January 31, 2011 at 8:17 pm #


    I must be missing it. Where can I purchase & download the course that you referenced?



  6. Sock Runner February 21, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    I’ve always been told what meditation can do to a stressed body and mind but I’ve never actually tried doing it. If I don’t go to classes, I can do it in my house at my own time, right? How do I it? My house is not really located on a quiet neighborhood so I guess that’ll be a problem. But maybe there are still ways to do it there?

  7. Lisa Johnson February 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Hi Sock Runner, a quiet time of day might help, or my guess is if you can tune it out to read a book or magazine you could tune it out for meditation too. :-) There are guided meditation tapes available. Check out Tricycle magazine for some ideas … there is also just the very simple inhale and exhale 41 times (count as you go). So a class might help you move into a meditation practice more quickly. Or at least let you ask the instructor if you get stuck on something, but you can certainly do it on your own too. Honestly, that’s what I did.

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