Meditation may slow brain aging

January 14, 2018

Meditation is usually depicted as a calming and peaceful practice, which isn’t necessarily always the case. Ongoing research into what measurable scientific results meditation can produce is suggesting it could be looked at as more of an exercise routine for the brain.

A newly published book, “Altered Traits” by researchers Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. and Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., shares a glimpse at some early data that suggests that meditation may actually slow down the brain’s aging process. They had an amazing opportunity to collect a series of MRI scans of the brain of Mingyur Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk from Nepal. Mingyur has been practicing meditation since childhood and was ordained as a monk at age 23. According to the scans, his 41-year-old brain closely resembled that of someone nearly 10 years younger.

This exciting new information may make us look at meditation for brain health like we do with exercise for cardiovascular health. While meditation probably can’t reverse brain aging, a long-term daily practice looks promising for use as a preventive measure.

Give it a try. Sit in a quiet, comfortable spot and close your eyes. Figure out where you most notice your breath and focus on it. It might be your nostrils, your chest or your belly. Think of the word “rising” when you breathe in and think of the word “falling” when you breathe out.

Easy, right?

Simple, yes. Easy, not so much.

You will get distracted by a thought, a sound or something. That’s OK. Notice that you are distracted and return your focus to the breath. This is the exercise part. It will happen over and over again, but don’t let it discourage you, just keep returning your focus to your breath.

Learning this technique and sticking with it could be an important method for keeping our brain sharp and healthy for longer.

Travis Lemon is a certified herbalist at Healthy Life Market who has worked in the natural health and wellness industry for more than 12 years. He can be contacted at travislemonmh@gmail.com.