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Long term meditators study:

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.

However, the neuroscientists also found that the meditators had more gray matter in another brain region, this time linked to decision-making and working memory: the frontal cortex. In fact, while most people see their cortexes shrink as they age, 50-year-old meditators in the study had the same amount of gray matter as those half their age.

Short term meditators study:

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.

Stress & its effects

Worker stress accounts for 20 percent of direct costs and is associated with high job turnovers, strikes, work stoppages and absenteeism. Other figures show that 55 percent of absences are attributed to stress, and are often related to attending to family-related issues.

Incorporating a stress management program can be a key way to help employees better manage these issues. Stress management can also help contain other health-related costs. Delnor Community Hospital near Chicago, found that stress management strategies reduced employee turnover from 28 percent down to 20.9 percent in two years, saving the hospital nearly $800,000.

Stressful work environments and stressful situations affect the whole body, emotions, concentration.

Key statistics:

  • Stress costs U.S. businesses $300 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, accidents, employee turnover, and medical costs, reports the American Institute of Stress.

  • 83 percent are stressed by at least one thing at work. More than 55 percent of absences are due to family-related stress.

  • Stress and depression increase healthcare costs more than obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure put together.