If you want to feel younger, there's no substitute for healthy living and hitting the gym (though a flattering haircut and a fun night out can't hurt). But what if you want to think younger?
Our brains are remarkably resilient, even growing new brain cells deep into adulthood, but even this incredible organ eventually ages. People experience this as memory lapses or slowed insights, but scientists can actually see the physical changes in older brains when they examine details like the amounts of grey matter and white matter in brain scans.
Is there any way to slow the clock at this physical level and nudge your brain to resemble that of a younger person? A recent study suggests so.
Yet another reason to try meditation
So what's this miracle intervention? Nothing more than a simple meditation practice. When the research team used a specially designed computer program to evaluate the "brain age" of 50 meditators versus 50 non-meditators, it found "experienced meditators have brains that appear 7.5 years younger, on average, than non-meditators," reports the British Psychological Society Research Digest blog.
The effects seemed particularly dramatic for the oldest participants. "It was the older meditators who had brains that seemed particularly well preserved, suggesting that meditation provides protection against the brain cell loss associated with aging," notes the BPS.
The research, while compelling, isn't definitive. It could be that people who meditate do other things that keep their brains young, or that people with slow-aging brains are somehow more prone to meditate. But the results suggest one more possible reason why picking up a simple mindfulness practice could be a good idea.
And the list of reasons why you might want to consider meditating was already long. Besides its much-touted benefits as a stress reducer, meditation has been suggested for everything from boosting creativity to raising profits. Some studies even show it can lower blood pressure and improve immune system function. Plus, getting started with mindfulness is probably easier than you think.
So why not give it a try?