A recent research indicates that doing mindfulness meditation for only a few minutes each day can improve brain health.
As published in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Yi-Yuan Tang and Michael Posner, the two scientists who observed mental illness, revealed that practicing meditation for 11 hours (even for beginners) results in a positive effect on the brain, improving connectivity and efficiency.
“The obvious physical changes show that short-term meditation can improve self-control, mood, stress and immunity,” said Posner, an emeritus professor from the University of Oregon, Eugene.
Tang, a research fellow, previously developed a meditation technique called the integrative body-mind training (IBMT) in the mid 1990’s that was based on traditional Chinese medicine, namely Taoism, and Confucianism. Unlike other meditation techniques that focus on mind control and long-term training needs, this technique actually focuses on awareness of body and mind, such as posture and breathing. According to Tang, with the help of a proper instructor, a person can learn these techniques in just five days.
In his study, researchers involved 68 students Dalian University of Technology of China who were recruited randomly. Participants performed IBMT meditation technique, which required focused concentration, or relaxation training group. None of the students had previous training in meditation. Students meditated for about half an hour a day for a month.
At the focused meditation group, the researchers looked at changes in white substance in a part of the brain associated with self-regulation, or commonly called the anterior cingulated cortex. Changes in white substance in the brain occurred even though participants only did meditation in a short time. However, the changes did not occur in a group who focused on relaxation.
Researchers said further study was necessary to decide whether a variety of mental disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and personality disorders are also associated with problems in the brain called the anterior cingulated cortex.
A separate study published last year found that people who participated in a meditation program for eight weeks experienced a change in brain parts associated with memory, self-awareness, empathy, and stress.