Meditation reduces stress, changes brain (Harvard study)

The Washington Post recently reported on a study by Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, that identified changes in people’s brains when they practice meditation.  After subjects spent eight weeks in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, researchers found thickening in four regions of the brain associated with mind-wandering, learning, and empathy.  They also discovered reductions in the size of the amygdala, commonly thought of as the “fight-or-flight” region, which correlated to reductions in stress levels for the meditators.

Locally, Vanderbilt’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine offers training in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), with new eight-week sessions beginning on June 16 and on Sept. 1.  Alice Simpson completed this course in 2014 and would be happy to answer anyone’s questions about it.  She notes, “I would highly recommend the program. I regularly use the skills I learned and the materials they gave us. Just more tools for our toolkit on this path of learning to become more peaceful and more enlightened.”

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