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Surprising Science

Meditation’s Immediate Benefits

You needn’t commit your life to blissful meditation to receive its benefits. A new study published in Psychological Science shows meditating changes neural pathways in just five weeks. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Stout designed an experiment to test how quickly meditation could change people’s brain patterns. 11 participants “were offered two half-hour sessions a week, and encouraged to practice as much as they could between sessions, but there wasn’t any particular requirement for how much they should practice.” After five weeks, during which each person meditated for an average of seven hours, distinct changes in brain patterns emerged. More activity was measured in the left frontal lobe of the brain, an area often associated with positive emotion. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The shift in people’s brain activity “was clearly evident even with a small number of subjects,” says Christopher Moyer, one the study’s coauthors at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. “If someone is thinking about trying meditation and they were thinking, ‘It’s too big of a commitment, it’s going to take too much rigorous training before it has an effect on my mind,’ this research suggests that’s not the case.’ For those people, meditation might be worth a try, he says. ‘It can’t hurt and it might do you a lot of good.'” The study implies meditation is likely to create a shift in outlook toward life. 


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