Meditation for a Younger Brain

older woman sitting in the grass meditatingMeditation can have many benefits from relieving stress, to increasing energy, to helping you focus, and more. Recent research shows meditation having yet another benefit on health: slowing the brain’s aging process. Our brains, like the rest of our bodies, changes as we age and can easily become less healthy over time. But something as easy as meditation can reduce the speed at which this happens, keeping the mind sharp and focused for years to come.

Normal aging is known to be accompanied by loss of brain substance. In mild cases, this leads to minor lapses in memory and occasional “brain fog” which are a nuisance but not detrimental to a healthy lifestyle. In more serious cases however, brain atrophy and age related disease such as Alzheimer’s can heavily impact our lives and the lives of our loved ones. There are many supplements available to support neurological health, but meditations and exercises which let you work your brain more like a muscle can help keep it performing at its best.

One of the great things about meditation is that there isn’t one set way you have to do it: you can meditate in any way that works and feels right to you and receive the same benefits of someone meditating a completely different way. Simply find a time and place where you can be left alone, somewhere peaceful works well, and just sit and meditate however you like. Some people like to reflect on religion or other types of study, some like to let their minds wander, and some quiet their minds and just relax. How it’s done doesn’t matter, just the act of taking time to sit still and reflect allows the brain to in a sense, stretch.

digital image map of a brain and how the neurons send information to the different partsScientists have an algorithm for determining what is called “brain age.” Your brain age is the age your brain looks and functions like, or the age a doctor would think your brain was if they didn’t know anything about you and your actual age. Typically a person’s actual age and their brain age are very close, but when people who regularly meditate have their brain ages analyzed the results are consistently younger than their actual age. And the older a person is, the bigger the age difference is. In people who meditate, for every year they age and meditate, their brain age becomes about 2 months younger.

So, over time, an individual over 50 can keep their mind in a younger, sharper condition by meditating regularly. Beyond meditation, working on puzzles, riddles, and other mind games work to strengthen the brain and keep it functioning as well as it did when you were younger.

You can read the research article on meditation and brain age here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811916300404

By Samantha Dillon, DR Vitamin Solutions