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Scientists are getting close to proving what yogis have held to be true for centuries — yoga and meditation can ward off stress and disease.
John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five-year study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed. While hundreds of studies have been conducted on the mental health benefits of yoga and meditation, they have tended to rely on blunt tools like participant questionnaires, as well as heart rate and blood pressure monitoring. The government-funded study may persuade more doctors to try an alternative route for tackling the source of a myriad of modern ailments. The science is advancing alongside a budding “mindfulness” movement, which includes meditation devotees such as Bill George, board member of Goldman Sachs Group and Exxon Mobil Corp., and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. As a psychiatrist specializing in depression, Denninger said he was attracted to mind-body medicine, pioneered in the late 1960s by Harvard professor Herbert Benson, as a possible way to prevent the onset of depression through stress reduction.
Get Michael's new book The Mindful Geek, and learn to meditate without religion or beliefs. Donate to DYDeconstructing Yourself brings you some of the finest meditation writing on the Internet, all without ads or subscriptions. With meditation, the physiology undergoes a change and every cell in the body is filled with more prana (energy). The HLS Mindfulness Society is a student-run group that provides resources and meditation groups for students. The Center for Wellness provides information on meditation space and groups held throughout campus for Harvard affiliates.

The Harvard Divinity School provides information on retreats throughout the region and quiet spaces conducive to meditation on Harvard University Campus. This is what would happen to the planet in 50 years, if we all became vegeterians.Let Her Sleep In!
Numerous studies have indicated the many physiological benefits of meditation, and the latest one comes from Harvard University.
An eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brains grey matter in just eight weeks. The study involved taking magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the brain’s of 16 study participants two weeks prior to participating in the study.
For the study, participants engaged in meditation practices every day for approximately 30 minutes. A common misconception about meditation is that you have to sit a certain way or do something in particular to achieve the various benefits that it can provide.
Another common misconception about meditation is that you have to “try” to empty your mind.
His latest work follows a study he and others published earlier this year showing how so-called mind-body techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function. Only recently have neuro-imaging and genomics technology used in Denninger’s latest studies allowed scientists to measure physiological changes in greater detail. Stress-induced conditions can include everything from hypertension and infertility to depression and even the aging process.

While treatment with pharmaceuticals is still essential, he sees yoga and meditation as useful additions to his medical arsenal.
It’s the very first study to document that meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter.
These practices included focusing on audio recordings for guided meditation, non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.
One important factor I enjoyed reading from the study mentioned above is that participants were engaged in “non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.”  When meditating, you shouldn’t try to “empty” your mind. I feel that one does not have to sit down for half an hour and “meditate” so to speak in order to reap the benefits of it, or to be engaged in the practice itself. Justice Breyer spoke about how meditation helps him write the best opinions in the greatest number of cases: “[T]he practice of law is like attempting to drink water from a fire hose. It could be sitting cross legged, lying down in a bed, sitting on a couch etc, it’s your choice. Instead, try to let your thoughts, feelings and whatever emotions you are feeling at the time flow. Throughout the day, one can resist judging their thoughts, letting them flow until they are no more, or just be in a constant state of peace and self awareness.

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