Science is just now getting glimpses of the tremendous power of meditation to completely change the entire body-mind structure itself. The benefits of meditation are countless and across all planes – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Meditation can simply change the very quality of life.
Increased brain power
Until recently, it was believed that in the brain, the connections among the brain nerve cells were fixed in childhood and did not change, so the brain growth stopped early in life. Now scientists are finding that the brain actually grows and forms new connections all throughout life. Scientists call this ability neuroplasticity.
It was stated in the Washington Post on January 3, 2005 about research done by the University of Wisconsin to study the effects of meditation on the brain. The study was done on a group of Tibetan monks who had been meditating for years, and also on a group of students who were new to meditation but had been taught how to meditate. They found that the awareness was more and the brain activity was faster and much better organized and coordinated in the meditating monks than in the students who were new to meditation. Not only that, the brain region associated with happiness, positive thoughts and emotions, was also much more active in the monks than in the students.
One more important thing, the researchers found that the brain activity of the meditator monks was more intense and organized that that of the students, even before the monks started meditating. So the benefits of meditation are actually permanent. Meditation can simply change the very circuitry and the inner workings of the brain. Many top universities in the USA like Yale, Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), have also studied the effects of meditation. Studies using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) showed that meditation actually increased the very thickness of the brain in areas related to awareness and attention, as well as cognitive processing and emotional wellbeing. The researchers found that the blood vessels become wider, the support structures also increase in number and they have more branches and connections.