Thinking about nothing is very appealing, yet hard to do. But after practice, you are no longer simply thinking about nothing: you're meditating. No one--not even chiding researchers--really understands why meditation is so good for you. There are, however, mounds of science willing to inform that you really should be doing it. Did you know that mediation may lower heart disease, reduce the symptoms of depression, relieve stress, improve attention span and change the very structure of your brain?
It's that last little tidbit that's piqued the interest of researchers lately, even though they've known for awhile that meditation does stuff to your brain. But the very structure? That sounds interesting, please tell more: "researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress."
But as to why meditators have increased gray matter in learning and memory areas and decreased gray matter in anxiety and stress areas--and what that means--researchers still appear stumped."The field is very, very young, and we don't really know enough about it yet," Dr. Hölzel said to the New York Times. "I would say these are still quite preliminary findings. We see that there is something there, but we have to replicate these findings and find out what they really mean."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.