Benefits from meditating regularly can be realized in as little as 2 weeks from practicing for just 30 minutes at a time, 5 days per week. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that subjects who received integrative body-mind training (IBMT) and then practiced meditating for a few hours per week experienced measurable changes in the brain’s white matter in the part of the brain that affects mood and is responsible for regulating emotions.
Study subjects were randomly assigned to either IBMT or relaxation training. After a total of 5 hours’ training over a 2-week period, IBMT participants displayed measureable changes in axon density, which is related to mood improvements. After 1 month and a total of about 11 hours’ training, axon density and myelin formation, both indicators of the integrity of white-matter fibers in the brain, improved in the IBMT group.
The physical changes suggest that short-term meditation can improve self-control, mood, stress response and immunity response. Unlike working-memory training or computer-based training that has shown to only change myelination, study authors believe these findings found a different pattern of neural plasticity induced by the training.
While more research is warranted, study authors were encouraged by the findings. The dynamic pattern of white-matter change involving the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain network related to self-regulation, could provide a means for intervention to improve or prevent mental disorders.
Resource: IDEA Fitness Journal