The number of Americans practicing mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation has been on the rise in recent years. In fact, a recent study found that the number of U.S. workers practicing meditation rose from 8% in 2002 to 9.9% in 2012.

The study’s authors wrote, “Our finding of high and increasing rates of exposure to mindfulness practices among U.S. workers is encouraging. Approximately 1 in 7 workers report engagement in some form of mindfulness-based activity, and these individuals can bring awareness of the benefit of such practices into the workplace.”

With the growing interest in these activities, researchers have shown a significant interest in the many benefits associated with meditation. One such benefit was highlighted in an 8-week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The team focused on the impact of meditation on the brain’s grey matter, and the results were eye-opening. Studying their participants over a 2-week period of time, the researchers discovered that meditation literally rebuilds the grey matter in the brain.

Britta Holzel, a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany explained, “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life. Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.”

Interested in learning more? Check out this video from Sara Lazar, discussing how meditation can reshape our brains:

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