A study by the Texas Tech University has found that five hours of mediation training over two weeks leads to increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with self control:
The researchers also conducted brain scans of participants before and after the training regiments, finding that at resting state, participants in the meditation group had increased activity in the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex brain areas. These regions are part of the brain network related to self-control capacity.
Powerful stuff. I now meditate for 1-2 hours each week and, amongst other benefits, I would say that my self control has improved, at least as measured by quickness to anger.
Perhaps more remarkably the study also found that smokers who had the meditation training reduced their cigarette consumption by 60%, often without realising it. Desire to give up smoking had no impact on the result.
There was a control group who were given relaxation training for the same amount of time and didn’t experience the same results, so it looks like the study was well put together.
I’ve just seen a post on Lifehacker which provides a fuller list of the benefits of meditation:
- Better focus
- Less anxiety
- More creativity
- More compassion
- Better memory
- Less stress
- More grey matter
- Slower ageing (see picture below)
Many of these claims are backed up by studies and/or scientific explanations. Meditation is a very powerful tool for self improvement. I expect its practice to become increasingly widespread.