Transcendental Meditation

Meditation slows down ageing of the brain

Dr. Sara Lazar from the Harvard Medical School has found evidence to support what meditation experts have been claiming for years: people are not only healthier and happier when they meditate, but they will slow down their biological clocks as well!

Watch this great video lecture by brain researcher Dr. Lazar:

How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains: Sara Lazar at TEDxCambridge 2011

An experiment with novice jugglers
led to
a study with meditators

Juggling: A key study looked at people who had never juggled before. After being scanned with MRI, they were taught to juggle and told to keep practicing for three months.The subjects of the study were then scanned for the second time. The researchers showed that it was possible to pinpoint neurological development in brain areas relevant to detecting and tracking visual motion.

JUGGLING: A key study looked at people who had never juggled before. After being scanned with MRI, they were taught to juggle and told to keep practicing for three months.The subjects of the study were then scanned for the second time. The researchers showed that it was possible to pinpoint neurological development in brain areas relevant to detecting and tracking visual motion.

“What neuroplasticity means is that your brain is ’plastic’ – the neurons in the brain can change how they talk to each other with experience. We can actually detect this with machines like MRI scanners,“ explains Sara Lazar.

And as a path-breaking experiment with juggling proved, these changes in the gray matter of our brains can become visible very quickly.

“The experminet with juggling led me to thinking: If such a relatively simple pattern can cause these kind of changes, then meditation, surely, must have a similar effect?“ tells Lazar.

“So in the first study we did, we recruited a bunch of ordinary folks – no monks, no nuns, no meditation teachers – from the Boston area. However, all these people had been regularly practicing meditation for several years.

“We put them in the brain scanner, and compared their brain images to people who were demographically matched but who did not practice meditation.”

Meditation slows down the effects of old age

SARA LAZAR meditation research harvard

Sara Lazar and her team are presently conducting research at Mass General Hospital Harvard Medical School. Their work is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Photo: blogs.terrapinn.com

“We found that there were, indeed, a few brain areas where the meditators had significantly more gray matter than the controls,“ says Sara Lazar.

“One of such regions is in the front of the brain and it’s important for working memory and executive decision making.

And when we plotted the data vs the ages of the subjects, we found something extremely interesting. Normally, when we get older, the cortex region of our brain shrinks – that’s the reason why it becomes increasingly harder to figure things out and to remember things as we get older.

However, our data showed clearly that 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of neurological matter as 25-year-olds!“

Most of Dr. Lazar’s research is based on variations of what is known in the West as “mindfulness meditation”. To see brain research based specifically on the Transcendental Meditation technique, please see these articles here:

What’s going on in our head when we meditate?

VIDEO: Live EEG experiment documents the brain waves of a meditator

Biggest health benefits of regular Transcendental Meditation practice