Meditation has been found to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and diminish the risk of strokes, but it recently has been linked to decreasing the symptoms of old age. An article in AARP by Michael Haederle talks about these meditation benefits and the brain. The research is based on an interesting concept called neuroplasticity, which deals with attention and how depending on our focus it can reshape the brain in different ways.
When one meditates, they redirect their attention in ways that can stop the decline of gray matter in the part of the brain that helps to control motor skills and learning. Studies conducted by Joshua Grant from the University of Montreal have shown that people who have been meditating for a long time are less sensitive to pain because they have a thicker layer of gray matter in the area that processes pain. Meditation actually thickens the gray matter, which is similar to the concept that working out certain muscles can make them bigger.
Studies that were conducted on a smaller scale found after subjects meditated for 20 minutes a day, three consecutive days in a row, they had a higher tolerance for pain than before. The benefits to meditation have been shown to keep the mind younger for longer.
Meditation is often thought of as a religious practice, but in reality, as one meditation teacher said, it is just a mind exercise. Meditation is very easy to learn and can be incorporated in any type of lifestyle and its benefits not only help the mind and body, but can help you cope with the things in life that cause stress.