“Don’t cry because it’s over,
be happy because it happened”
There is an ever-increasing body of research evidence that shows that meditation decreases stress, depression, and anxiety, reduces pain and insomnia, and increases quality of life.
One study looked at long-term meditators (seven to nine years of experience) versus a control group. “The results showed that those with a strong meditation background had increased gray matter in several areas of the brain, including the auditory and sensory cortex, as well as insula and sensory regions.”
“This makes sense, since mindfulness meditation has you slow down and become aware of the present moment, including physical sensations such as your breathing and the sounds around you.”
Just to make sure this wasn’t because the long-term meditators had more gray matter to begin with, a second study was conducted in which they put people with no experience with meditation into an eight-week mindfulness program.
“Even just eight weeks of meditation changed people’s brains for the better. There was thickening in several regions of the brain, including the left hippocampus (involved in learning, memory, and emotional regulation); the TPJ (involved in empathy and the ability to take multiple perspectives); and a part of the brainstem called the pons (where regulatory neurotransmitters are generated).”
“Plus, the brains of the new meditators saw shrinkage of the amygdala, a region of the brain associated with fear, anxiety, and aggression. This reduction in size of the amygdala correlated to reduced stress levels in those participants.”
“The study, by a team at University College London, comes after decades of research showing that both loneliness and infrequent contact with friends and family can, independently, shorten a person’s life. The scientists expected to find that the combination of these two risk factors would be especially dangerous.”
“We were thinking that people who were socially isolated but also felt lonely might be at particularly high risk,” says Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology at University College London.”
“To find out, the team studied 6,500 men and women ages 52 and older. All of them had answered a questionnaire back in 2004 or 2005 that assessed both their sense of loneliness and how much contact they had with friends and family. The researchers looked to see what happened to those people over the next seven or eight years.”
“And Steptoe says he was surprised by the result. “Both social isolation and loneliness appeared initially to be associated with a greater risk of dying,” he says. “But it was really the isolation which was more important.”‘
‘”At first, it looked like people who reported greater levels of loneliness were more likely to die, Steptoe says. But closer analysis showed that these people were also more likely to have other risk factors, like being poor and having existing health problems. Once those factors were taken into account, the extra risk associated with loneliness pretty much disappeared, Steptoe says.”‘
“It’s not clear why social isolation is linked to mortality. But one possibility is that having other people around has practical benefits as you get older, Steptoe says. For example, they may push you to go see a doctor if you are having symptoms like chest pain, he says. And if you were to lose consciousness, they would call for help.”
“Other researchers say they are surprised and not necessarily convinced by the new study, even though they say it’s large and well-done.”
*https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/01.cir.0000151424.02045.f7 (There are multiple explanations for this association, including the possibility that holiday-induced delays in seeking treatment play a role in producing the twin holiday spikes.)
Freddie Parker Westerfield, S.D.E
Supreme Dopamine Enhancer
Live for now. Think about it. Now is all that exists. If all the stuffing comes out of your plaything, find another one. When someone won’t scratch behind your ears offer them your back.
I never procrastinate or make excuses why it’s too late to go for a walk or put off dinner until my favorite program is over.
If you had to cram seven years into one year you wouldn’t procrastinate either. When you tell yourself “I want to go fetch BUT I have to check text messages text first” . remember to go at life head-first, not “BUT . . . first”.
There are so many smells and so many blessings outside the window . . . take it all in wherever you’re headed (pun intended). You humans focus too much on the destination and forget to enjoy the journey.
BEFORE MAKING JUDGMENTS based on what others look like take a few sniffs and watch their behavior.
I can tell after 5 sniffs whether someone is trustworthy. You might need more than 5 since you aren’t as perceptive as I am.
I don’t speak a human language (I write it but don’t speak it) I can’t give you a thumbs up but I can give you a paw. Only if I can’t get your attention with a nudge I use my bark. My tail never lies . . . and you shouldn’t either.
*If you’re a constant worrier, you’re not alone. 40 million American adults live with anxiety disorders.
As far back as 2007 scientists* measured how positive thoughts change brain serotonin levels which is another key neurotransmitter in happiness. Professional actors were used since they could keep up an intense emotional state. Using a PET scan researchers found that focusing on happy memories resulted in increased uptake of the serotonin building blocks. Focusing on sad memories resulted in lower uptake. This supports the since replicated conclusion that we, by choosing to focus on happy thoughts, can self-regulate our brain’s neurotransmitters and change our brain’s chemical balance to support happiness.
Dopamine is also crucial for happiness and relaxation, Researchers examined the changes in dopamine during meditation using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning on meditators. The dopamine increased significantly in an area called the basal ganglia during meditation. This is the first evidence that by focusing our thoughts, we can alter how the neurons in our brain fire, and increase dopamine release.