This is your brain on meditation.
Sara Lazar, Harvard Medical School Ph.D, who is one of my favorite brain researchers, demonstrated in a groundbreaking 2005 study that mindfullness meditation can help prevent the thinning of the brain that happens naturally with aging. It also may boost thickness in the frontal regions associated with integrating emotional and cognitive processing. Hers was some of the first research to suggest brain plasticity and I just stumbled across a nice profile of Lazar written by Canadian journalist Paddy Kamen on her Better Brain Better Life blog.
Kamen reports that Lazar is conducting some follow-up studies that we should all anxiously await. It also seems Lazar's personal foray into yoga and meditation got her thinking about how meditation affects the brain, her own life and work:
One of the best ways to talk about the benefits of meditation in my life is that it is really good for helping me gain perspective.... It helps me see things from multiple points of view and I’m better able to see solutions that incorporate those multiple viewpoints. It helps inform my research because I understand pretty clearly what we’re aiming for, what will work and what won’t. You might say that the world is less ‘black and white’ for me than it used to be and I handle stress much better.Amen sister. If it's good for the Harvard brain scientist, it's certainly good for me.