According to a recent study at Harvard University: Meditation has been proven to increase grey matter density in the hippocampus, a region known to be important for learning and memory, self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
Harvard also discovered reductions in stress were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in how we manage anxiety and respond to stress. The amygdala stores painful memories that trigger heightened responses in our nervous system during stressful situations. Mindfulness can help rewire the brain to overcome stressful situations that could otherwise trigger the bodies fight or flight responses.
Stress is the number 1 cause of disease and illness. According to Harvard 8 in 10 Americans experience stress in their daily lives and have a hard time relaxing their bodies and calming their minds, which puts them at high risk of heart disease and other illnesses. Of the myriad of offerings aimed at fighting stress from exercise to yoga to meditation, Harvard points out that mindfulness meditation has become the hottest commodity in the wellness universe.
Mindfulness courses these days can be found in venues ranging from schools, to hospitals, to prisons, to sports teams. Even the U.S. Army recently adopted it to “improve military resilience. Research has found structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration.