By Barbara Broggelwirth, RD
In the fast-paced world we live in today, multitasking is ever present and even expected. People are seeking out non-pharmacological ways to ease their anxiety and quiet their minds. Taking time to unwind seems as luxurious as going to an all day spa – who has the time?? Research has shown that taking as little as 10 minutes a day to just “be” gives you a way to clean out all of the junk and start fresh. And without all of those discursive thoughts bouncing around, you begin to think clearer and with a new perspective.
Meditation even cultivates a flexible mind. During meditation we develop adaptability by not holding on to thoughts as they start to fade away or change. Rather than resist them, we accept the change. This is a very transferable skill. The adaptability that we learn through meditation trains our brains to apply it subconsciously in all situations, making us more flexible in everyday life.
Meditation can even improve memory and mental cognition. In a study led by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, subjects who practiced mindfulness meditation for only eight weeks showed measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress which were reflected in MRI images. (1) Even more powerful was that these MRIs showed something permanent: denser gray matter in specific regions like the hippocampus, which is crucial for learning and memory. Neuroscientists refer to this trait as neuroplasticity which in layman’s terms means “wiring in soft ways”; new pathways and even new brain cells appear.
The practice of consistent meditation can positively affect our conscious decisions and actions and play a large part in shaping our behavior in everyday life. So the only real question is, are you ready for a positive change?
- Hozel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research – Neuroimaging,191(1), 36-43. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
Barbara Broggelwirth is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients. She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.