As part of our focus on Alzheimer’s and brain health this month, we are happy to share this guest post from Suze Yalof Schwartz, founder of Unplug Meditation.* Be sure to check out our Instagram for this week’s Fitness Friday giveaway for one month of unlimited sessions!
Meditation has long been a resource for creating a calm internal environment, developing a strong sense of awareness, and improving health. Several recent studies have documented evidence indicating that meditation can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and its symptoms.
We already know that meditation increases focus, memory, and awareness, but these benefits have now been shown to actually affect the physical structure of the brain. Meditative practices including mindfulness and breathing exercises may help to protect the brain enveloping it in protective tissues. Researchers have also found that both yoga and meditation can dramatically decrease damage to the brain from early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Several scientific studies have even produced results indicating that meditation actually creates a physical change in the brain structure. Mindfulness practices such as group chanting, silent meditation, and breathing exercises were monitored with MRIs and brain scans, which indicated a positive increase in nerve connections. In addition, white matter and gray matter can be affected by meditation.
An article in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Stress describes how hormones like cortisol can harm the hippocampus and pituitary glands, ultimately causing atrophy to important brain centers like memory and emotional health. Because meditation can actually work to decrease stress and reduce anxiety, the overall patient group saw a decline in atrophy.
It’s important to note that while several studies have found positive results in a short period of time, most attribute continued meditation practice to sustained improvement and prevention.
The plethora of benefits from increased compassion and productivity to decreased pessimism and loneliness have also been linked to lowering the risk of developing chronic stress. Since chronic stress in seniors also increases their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, the inner peace, increased happiness, and overall optimism that result from regular meditation practice has become a source of natural medication.
At Unplug, our mission is to teach people how easy meditation is and to demystify the practice, thereby making it accessible to all. What we have found from the 35,000+ people who have walked through our doors is that meditation not only feels good, but it is quite possibly the greatest gift you could give yourself.
*Opinions expressed are exclusively those of the author. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made are not guaranteed. Erewhon accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.