by Karen Keller Capuciati
When friends tell me about their health issues, I often suggest they start meditating. And I usually I get a look that says, That’s nice, Karen, but I need a real solution to my problem.
But research on this topic is actually beginning to flourish. The National Institute for Health (NIH) is exploring the benefits of meditation for conditions as varied as asthma, panic attacks and heart disease, and there have been promising results. A number of studies indicate an actual cardiac benefit from various meditation techniques, while other research has demonstrated that meditation may indeed reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and chronic pain.
Also fascinating is an NIH report on a small study that indicates “meditation appears to be associated with measurable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning, and emotion.” The study consisted of 16 individuals, new meditators who had never practiced the technique prior to this trial. Brain images were taken before and after for these individuals, as well as for a control group of non-meditators. The brain scans revealed increases in “gray matter concentration” for the meditation group after only 8 weeks of study. While it’s impossible to gauge exactly how that increase in gray matter activity translates into practical everyday brain function, it’s also irrefutable that meditation promotes brain activity well beyond our earlier understanding of the practice.
So think of the possibilities if you, or someone you’re caring for, started to meditate.
Karen Keller Capuciati is co-founder of In Care of Dad.
We are happy to re-post this blog from September of 2011.