Meditation optimizes Health, Vitality, Focus and Lifespan

In this blog-article, i will review the five ways that meditation changes the brain, and how those changes lead to happy benefits. (Section A). Thereafter, I will analyse the role of meditation practice in the expansion of healthy lifespans (longevity) (Section B)

Section A

Multiple Benefits from Meditation

1. Meditation keeps the hippocampus healthy to enhance learning and memory.

In 2011, researchers at Harvard were among the first to demonstrate that just eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training caused significant increase in the thickness of the hippocampus, one of the key brain organs. (1)

2. Meditation tells the amygdala, the emotion part of the brain, to chill out and helps to lower stress levels.

In this perspective, the same team of Harvard researchers also found that mindfulness meditation decreases brain cell volume in the amygdala, the part of our brain responsible for fear, anxiety and stress.

These changes matched with the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, demonstrating how changes in the brain correlate with subjective perception and feelings as well.

3. Meditation builds a faster, fatter and fitter frontal cortex, helping to improve focus, concentration and attention.

Since focusing our attention on an object (ex: breath or mantra) is one of the central practices of meditation, it’s no surprise that meditation should help improve our ability to focus and be less susceptible to distractions.

Improved concentration and attention is one of the most well-studied benefits of meditation. That’s why i try to meditate before getting involved in something important like driving. So many vehicle drivers get into a car accident just because of distraction. We need to nurture vigilance at all times, if only to avoid an unexpected danger, like a comet, aggression or accident.

The mechanism of this technique is straightforward. When meditators focus their minds,  the frontal cortex (which is the “third brain”) is activated, thereby increasing the blood flow to this area. If we do this enough times, we start to see that enhanced blood flow activity become more stable. This activity leads to the growth of grey matter (known as cortical thickening) and can be seen in the brains of meditators. The more grey matter, the better. Just like with belly fat. The more grey fat, the better. It’s the while fat that’s the killer.

4. Meditation increases gray matter and lengthens telomeres helping to slow the effect of the aging in the brain.

The human brain starts to decrease in volume and weight as we age, but research has shown that long-term meditators have better preserved brains that non-meditators, as they age. They have more grey matter volume and while older meditators still had some volume loss, it wasn’t as pronounced as the older non-meditators.

Meditation also helps to protect our telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes. Among many others, a published study proved this for a group of cancer meditators versus cancer non meditators. Telomeres are longest when we’re young and naturally shorten as we age. Shorter telomeres are associated with stress and higher risk for many diseases including cancer, and depend on the telomerase enzyme to enable them to rebuild and repair. But this aging process can be considerably slowed down with holistic techniques, including, but not limited to meditation.

In this perspective, researchers at the University of California were the first to show that meditators have significantly higher telomerase activity than non-meditators. Their findings have since been replicated via other published studies. Dr Blackburn in her video (see Mission page) speaks about 10,000 such studies. The evidence is therefore overwhelming, notwithstanding conventional medicine’s stubborn insistence that synthetic drugs are better.

5. Meditation activates the insula, enhancing empathy and compassion.

Meditators also show enhanced activity in the insula and greater cortical thickness in this region. (2) More recent studies have also shown that meditation increases compassionate responses to the suffering of others.

Empathy is about reading others, it’s defined as the ability to understand the feelings of another. Compassion is a different phenomenon, it’s about sympathetic concern for the suffering of another or oneself. In the past 10 years, research has consistently shown that meditation enhances both of these  qualities. These benefits are traced to a brain region known as the insula.

Section B

Meditation and Longevity

This section pending, for later.

Discussion

Section under construction

Conclusion

Like with regular moderate exercises, Mediterranean diet and even wine (but small amounts or organic or good quality red wine, to keep the arteries in good shape), the more a human being meditates, the more the brain will reap the benefits. As a bonus, the meditator will harvest additional wellbeing feelings, activate his or her longevity genes (via the telomerase pathway) and be  healthier, more vibrant and better avoid accidents and negativity.

Ch. Joubert (HMI director)

P.S. See the Institute’s Workshop on this theme.

Reference and Precision Notes

(1). The hippocapmus is a small region of the brain buried deep within the subcortex. It plays important roles in learning, emotion regulation and specifically helps with the consolidation of information, from the short-term to long-term memory
(2). The insula is a key player in self-awareness and empathy for emotions. It enables us to be mindful of our own emotional reactions, as well as better read and understand those of others. The more empathic people are, the more the insula lights up when we witness emotions in other.

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Copyright (c) 2016-18: Happiness Medicine Institute and agents. All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMER. Nothing in this blog-webstie should be construed as medical or legal advise, including, but not limited to replies, comments and posts, all of which should not be deemed to constitute either a therapist-patient nor an attorney-client relationship. For all and any serious disease, the Institute recommends consulting with a competent Health-care practitioner who has both conventional and holistic medical training and clinical experience.

Professor Joubert teaches in different parts of the world how to extend a healthy Lifespan to 120 years and beyond. Working on a Documentary and book that redefines Medicine in light of new discoveries, ancient wisdoms, innovative research and holistic science, he can be nonetheless available to coach patients back to homeostasis, wellbeing & Joie de Vivre. On occasion, Pr. Joubert can also coach health professionals to better protect their holistic practice when they must deviate from outdated and irrational mainstream “standards of care”. See links on “Contact” and “Mission” (under the “About” link) for details.

Posted in Longevity Medicine, Anti-Aging, Gerontology, Telmomeres, Telomerase, Caloric Restriction, mTOR, Sirtuins, Protein Misfoldment, Meditation, Sophrology, Placebo, Nocebo, Attitude, Intention, Consciousness & Faith

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