Self-care is essential for massage therapists, who spend so much time giving to others and using their bodies in a physically demanding job.

New research shows meditation contributes to brain health. (MASSAGE Magazine ran an article on how meditation benefits massage therapists in its July 2011 issue.)

Meditation’s ability to help people stay focused on the moment has been associated with increased happiness levels, said Judson A. Brewer, assistant professor of psychiatry and lead author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Understanding how meditation works will aid investigation into a host of diseases, he said.

“Meditation has been shown to help in variety of health problems, such as helping people quit smoking, cope with cancer, and even prevent psoriasis,” Brewer said.

The Yale team conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on both experienced and novice meditators as they practiced three different meditation techniques.

They found that experienced meditators had decreased activity in areas of the brain called the default mode network, which has been implicated in lapses of attention and disorders such as anxiety, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and even the buildup of beta amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. The decrease in activity in this network, consisting of the medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortex, was seen in experienced meditators regardless of the type of meditation they were doing.

Related articles:

Meditation Reduces the Emotional Impact of Pain

Zen Meditation Reduces Sensitivity to Pain

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