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For thousands of years, people have practiced meditation for spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.
But from a scientific perspective, how exactly does meditating affect your body?
Does it really do anything?
It all starts in the brain.
During meditation, brain scans see increased activity in regions directly correlated with decreased anxiety and depression, along with increased pain tolerance.
The Default Mode Network, in particular, is activated when one's mind is at rest and not focusing on the outside world,
and has been found to improve memory, self-awareness, and goal setting.
Want to be more caring to your friends and family?
When scientists compared the brains of Buddhist monks to new meditators,
they found the region of the brain associated with empathy to be much more pronounced in the monks.
It also literally changes your brain waves, and we can measure these frequencies.
Meditators have higher levels of Alpha waves, which have been shown to reduce feelings of negative mood, tension, sadness, and anger.
And if that wasn't enough, it also physically changes our brain shape and size.
Studies found that after 8 weeks of a meditation program, gray matter was more dense in areas associated with learning, memory processing, and emotion regulation.
And yet the amygdala, which deals with stress, blood pressure, and fear, had decreased gray matter!
When we look at the entire body, not only do we see decreased blood pressure, but it can also increase the variability of your heart rate.
And while this may sound harmful, it actually plays a critical role in properly transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout your body.
Think you're getting sick?
In a study where both meditators and non-mediators were given the flu virus,
meditators were able to produce a greater number of antibodies and had increased immune function.
If we go a little deeper, we can even see changes on a cellular level.
Your chromosomes have protective protein complexes called telomeres, which help reduce damage to your DNA and lower cell death.
And a shortened telomere length has been linked to several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cancer.
Amazingly, when cancer survivors completed a meditation program, their bodies showed significant increases in telomere length.
It's believed that psychological intervention, particularly decreasing stress, has a direct effect on the enzyme telomerase,
which has been shown to counteract shortening by adding DNA to the shrinking telomeres.
Of course, meditation is not a substitute for other medical advice or a healthy lifestyle—
we don't want you leaving this video thinking it will cure cancer—
But much like hitting the gym can grow your muscles and increase your overall health,
it seems that meditation may be a way of working out your brain with extra health benefits.
And since your brain controls, well, all of you, why not relax and say "om" every once in a while?
And if you like working out your brain, be sure to get our AsapSCIENCE book, which is now available for pre-sale at asapscience.com/book.
We've got answers to your most asked burning questions, persistent rumors, and unexplained phenomenon!
Whether you're a huge science fan or just a curious mind,
the book has something for everyone, and we're so excited for you to read it and show off your new found knowledge to all your friends!
Thanks again for all the support through the years, helping us share a love of science with the world!
And subscribe for more weekly science videos.
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The Scientific Power of Meditation

71461 Folder Collection
Ashley Chen published on July 29, 2015    沈家后 translated    Wendy reviewed
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