Thursday, January 27, 2011

Change your brain with 8 weeks of meditation


Brain plasticity seems to be the topic du jour. Books like "The Brain that Changes Itself" written by Norman Doidge are flying off the shelves.

A search of the term "changing the brain" on amazon results in over 500 selections.
Maybe part of our evolution involves not only realizing we have control over muscles via exercise but also our brain structure through self awareness and consciously choosing our thoughts. It's a promising trend pointing to the possibility of improvement in our conscious living.

This week clients have been buzzing about a study that was reported in the news, "Change your brain with 8 weeks of meditation". I also have a client who joined an 8 week meditation program that is said to rewire her brain and her ability to cope with stress. Just Monday night, I enjoyed a delicious meditation in Michelle McAdorey's yoga class at Urbanfitt.

So here's what the study said:

A U.S. researcher says mindfulness meditation can change brain structure in eight weeks.

Senior author Sara Lazar of Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital says these changes may account for meditation practitioners' claims of persistent cognitive and psychological benefits.

The study, published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, reports meditation produced changes over time in the brain's gray matter -- including increases in density in brain areas having to do with learning, memory, self-awareness and compassion. Decreased density was seen in the amygdala -- an area linked to anxiety -- in those reporting less stress. None of the changes were seen in the control group.

"This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing," Lazar says in a statement.

Lazar and colleagues studied magnetic resonance images of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program involving daily sessions averaging 27 minutes as well as images of the brains of a matched control group of non-meditators.

During mindfulness meditation, participants were guided to focus on non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind, Lazar says.


Meditation will be a consistent component of both of the new Yoga classes being offered at Urbanfitt. You have until the end of January to try either classes.

Saturdays Flow with Anna Hardwick at 12:15
Mondays Ashtanga with Michelle McAdorey at 6:30pm

Call 416.964.3309

And remember, your first visit to Urbanfitt is ALWAYS free.

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