Dementia & Alzheimers seem to be on the increase, especially in the West. I’ve certainly noticed an increase in people mentioning during treatments, their fears around the symptoms. But do you know, there’s a way to slow down the process and maybe even cure the symptoms? I’m really not joking, and I’ve absolutely no idea why we aren’t told about it – Meditation.
But would you know the difference between Alzheimers & Dementia? This is a powerful question and for most of us, the answer would be NO. First let’s understand the differences, and then how a simple practice like meditation can help reverse the symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease destroys neurons and their connections in the parts of the brain controling memory. These include; the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex responsible for language, reasoning, and social behaviour.
Dementia is a group of symptoms affecting our mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning (for example, making sense of the world) Dementia is a kind of umbrella that Alzheimer’s disease stands under, and it has many causes. The most common is Alzheimers. Please note… there are different types of dementia too.
In a nutshell, Alzheimers starts to destroy the brain cells affecting memory, until it becomes difficult to connect or make sense of the world around us which then becomes Dementia.
Now let’s look at the Effects of Meditation on the brain
When we meditate, the blood flow in the brain physically changes. This has been clearly evidenced in research where meditators including Tibetan Buddhist monks, had their brains scanned at top universities in two different states of consciousness – the first relaxed & the second in a meditative state. The images show clear changes in the brain, as the mind enters these two states. What’s interesting though, are the areas of brain affected.
This part of the brain helps us learn. It’s the place where our cognitive ability and memory are found. (Remember the Hippocampus as the cells die off in Alzheimers) Research shows that meditation actually increases the cortical thickness of the hippocampus and increases gray-matter too – all the things destroyed by Alzheimers. There’s also another part of the brain significantly changed through meditation, the amygdala. Significantly important in the reversal of alzheimer symptoms, the amygdala is a tiny pea sized part of our brain, producing feelings of anxiety, fear and stress. In fact, it’s fair to say, the amygdala controls pretty much all our emotions. Tibetan monks & other Expert meditators have much smaller Amygdala than most people — why? Because meditation literally shrinks it.
Consider this….. You’re starting with the onset of Alzheimers. You are very aware of your forgetfulness and inability to coordinate things properly, but you’re not sure why. This makes you increasingly anxious because you know something is wrong. This is happening because your amygdala reacts to stress and it’s sending signals across your body that you need help. Adrenaline starts to flow because you’re anxious, your heart starts beating faster and you feel like you’re going to have a heart attack, but all this is happening because of your own stress and fear of what’s happening in your mind. This is the power of the amygdala, so why aren’t we told meditation can shrink it? The smaller it is, the less apt it is to dictate our emotional responses, especially those of the “fight-or-flight” genre.
Alzheimers is a terribly distressing disease not only for the sufferer but the whole family too.
Meditation is completely free with absolutely no adverse side effects (only positive ones) It can be done in the comfort of you’re own home and it may just change your life. Why not give it some consideration?
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll be giving you some simple meditation exercises so keep your eyes peeled! 😊
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