Woman Using Meditation Reverse Aging next to a calm lake during sunset.

Can Meditation Reverse Aging and Mental Decline – Find Your Peace

Meditation has been linked to many physical and mental health benefits.  But can it actually reverse the age-related mental decline?  You may be surprised at what the research shows.  This study shows that the standard practice of Zen Meditation may have neuroprotective effects and decrease the cognitive decline associated with healthy aging.

What is Zen Meditation?

Zen meditation is a Buddhist practice devoted to postural and attentional self-regulation. Practitioners of Zen meditation have been speculating to the effects and benefits of meditation for as long as Zen has been practiced.  Many people feel stress reduction, an improvement of cognitive functions, decrease in blood pressure, pain relief, and many additional benefits.

Peaceful Zen Garden

What the Science Says

This study took a more scientific approach and measured the age-related decline of cerebral gray matter volume and attentional performance. People in the study who did not practice meditation displayed the typical negative correlation of both attentional performance and gray matter decline with age.  On the other hand, meditation practitioners did not demonstrate a significant relationship for either gray matter decline or attentional performance.

Slowing Aging is not Anti-Aging

We want to know if meditation can reverse aging, by turning back the clock, not just slow it down.  That would mean we need to see studies that show the production of gray matter from meditation, not a slower or no decline.  An anti-aging effect for gray matter is exactly what this study showed.  The researchers used a controlled longitudinal study method while investigating pre-post changes in brain gray matter concentration. The took brain scans of the participants, using magnetic resonance (MR) images. Their analyses in a showed increases in gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus and improvements in the posterior cingulate cortex, the cerebellum, and the temporoparietal junction. The results concluded that conducting meditation and mindfulness training can produce an increase in gray matter concentration in your brain. Specifically, the regions of your brain that aid in learning and memory processes, self-referential, perspective taking, and emotion regulation were improved.

What Kind of Meditation Was Studied?

These researchers examined people who performed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Because MBSR is one of the most widely used mindfulness training programs. Additionally, MBSR has been reported to produce positive effects on the symptoms of a number of disorders as well as improving practitioners psychological well-being.

Should You Practice Meditation to Turn Back the Clock?

Are you are interested in turning back the clock? There are many people willing to sell you some snake oil that will do just that. Scammers and have been taking advantage of people for centuries promising the fountain of youth, from everything from skin creams to elixirs. Before you try a magic pill or elixir to get a more youthful feel, first try meditation, after all, it is free.

How Long do You Need to Meditate?

You don’t even need to meditate for long every day even things like practicing yoga and mindfulness, can also help.  In the MSBR training session can last up to 45 minutes, but people have also seen that training for as little as five minutes can be beneficial.  It all depends on how quickly you can clear your mind.  Practice meditation and mindfulness are like any other skill, you get better at it the more you practice.  Obviously, in the beginning, you may need more time to get to the correct state of mind and elevate your brain waves.  Eventually, you will be able to get into your meditative state quickly and your session can be much shorter.

How Will You Know if Meditation is Working?

Unless you have some sophisticated equipment to measure your brain activity, you are going to have to trust yourself.  One way to see the benefits is to write down how you feel before and after each mediation session.  When you review these notes in the future, you will be able to see the positive impacts that meditation has had. 

Other Benefits of Meditation

You Should Feel Less Stress

People in Eastern cultures have believed for years that meditation keeps you younger.  One of the primary benefits of meditation is that it reduces stress and stress is one of the primary mechanisms that can make you look and feel older.  I am sure that you can think of some examples of people that you know who have gone through some traumatic stress, and appear much older because of the situation.  Maybe this individual that you are thinking of is you.  Well, practicings some mindfulness may be able to get some of that time back.

How Stress Affects Your Life?

We continually move from one stressful situation to another, at least we make these situations stressful.  It may just be that we exacerbate are situations to make them stressful.  But, the fact is that we may be able to handle them in a much more peaceful way.  Stress can actually be a good thing, eustress is just that.  Your body uses stress to overcome situations where more energy is needed. Unfortunately, we can overuse these processes where they are not necessary.  For instance, you may get stressed when you are late, but will this stress help you overcome your tardiness?  Instead, you will feel rushed and may forget something important.  Likely whatever engagement you are late for would benefit from you being present and calm, not feeling rushed.  Meditation can help bring you back to the center in these type of situations.

Finding Your Happiness With Meditation

How is Your Body Physically Impacted By Stress?

Recently there has been much research into protein caps called Telomeres.  Every chromosome within you finishes or is capped with these Telomeres. When your cells divide your chromosome replicates and the telomeres are shortened.  As your telomeres become too short, your cells can no longer divide or replicate. This is now of the mechanism believed to be associated with age-related diseases and aging in your body.  Many researcher and scientists are looking for ways to prevent or slow the shortening of telomeres. By improving the length of telomeres you can reduce or prevent aging.  One of the primary mechanisms that shorten telomeres is stress. There are lots of things you can do to prevent accelerated shortening of the telomeres most of them include things we would consider living a healthy lifestyle. 

Meditation as an Anti-Aging Solution

We should understand that increasing telomeres span can increase longevity.  This study support meditation maintaining telomeres as well.  So not only does meditation reduce stress but it actually can help us at a cellular level to not age as quickly.  No matter how much actual stress you have in life, meditation can help you focus and be more productive.

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