San Suu Kyi, the human rights activist in Myammar, used meditation to help her cope with decades of imprisonment and house arrest. She says that meditation helped her gain focus and awareness: “If you’re aware of what you are doing, you become aware of the pros and cons of each act. That helps you to control not just what you do, but what you think and what you say.” (Hammer, 2012) The Dalai Llama also reportedly used meditation to help maintain his sanity while being imprisoned by the Chinese government. In addition to such high-profile testimonials, there’s a growing body of research demonstrating that meditation can have many positive effects, even for novice
practitioners:

Brain benefits from meditation

1.    A study published in 2011 in Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging showed that even novice meditators exhibit an increase in gray matter in areas of the brain responsible for learning, memory and self-awareness. (Davidson & Begley, 2012)

2.    A growing number of neuroscientists believe that regular meditation and relaxation actually changes the way the brain is wired – shifting brain activity from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left-frontal cortex. (Hammer, 2012)

3.    Studies have found that mindfulness meditation in schools can improve children’s inhibitory skills, control of attention, working memory, and emotional regulation better than kids assigned to silent reading. (Wickelgren, 2012B)

4.    Brain imaging studies show that meditation can improve the functional performance of specific circuits in the brain and may reduce age-related shrinkage of several brain centers, particularly those vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease. (Reddy, 4-1-2013)

5.    One recent study found that people who trained in mindfulness meditation two hours a week for eight weeks were better able to focus during multitasking tests than those who never meditated. (Gold, 2013)


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