According to several of Blackburn's studies, meditation can help protect DNA.

The Anti-Aging Effects of Meditation

No one's claiming mindful meditation is the fountain of youth, but there may be something in it that protects people against those wrinkles a bit longer.

In a recent CNN report, a Yale biologist named Elizabeth Blackburn unveiled how meditation practices resist stress's aging effects

Blackburn has spent decades researching this topic in one form or another. In the 1970s, the scientist delved into nature to answer some of human's pulsing questions. She sequenced the chromosome tips of a single-celled freshwater creature called Tetrahymena, "pond scum" as she dubbed it. The researcher found a repeating DNA motif that serves as a type of chromosome shield, described as telomeres, which were later found on human chromosomes too. 

These protective caps go on the end of our chromosomes each time DNA is copied, but they dwindle and wear down over time. When they become too short, our cells begin to malfunction and lose their ability to divide – a key part of the aging process. 

Years later, Blackburn and her colleague Elissa Epel, a postdoc from University of California, San Francisco's psychiatry department, introduced a new factor into the studies: stress. 

"I was interested in the idea that if we look deep within cells we might be able to measure the wear and tear of stress and daily life," Epel told CNN.

Stress Scars
Many of us consider stress a mere mental phenomenon, but there is a deeply physical side to stress. 

"Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older," pioneering biologist Hans Selye once said back in the 1930s. 

Epel and Blackburn wanted to discover that scar.

So they conducted a study of mothers going through one of the biggest anxiety-producing situations that exist: caring for a chronically ill child. After four years, researchers collected blood samples from 58 women and measured the telomere length and levels of telomerase.

The results showed that the more stressed the mothers were, the shorter their telomeres and the lower their levels of telomerase.

The women most plagued by chronic anxiety had telomeres that translated into 10 years of aging in comparison to those who were less stressed. In other words, there is a very real connection between our life experiences and the molecular health of our cells.

Meditation: The Anti-Stress Soldier
Blackburn's work eventually led her to meditation. For scientists neck deep in the quantifiable and measurable, it may seem odd that molecular studies bridged the gap toward mindful meditation, an ancient, abstract practice focused on breathing and soul searching.

Based on research trials, the Yale scientist analyzed ways to protect telomeres from the effects of stress. Eating healthy and social support were shown to help. But one of the most effective methods was none other than meditation. 

Mindfulness techniques are apparently capable of slowing the erosion of telomeres and possibly even lengthening them again, according to CNN. In one project, participants who completed a three-month meditation course at a Shambhala mountain retreat had a 30 percent high levels of telomerase than a similar group who did not partake in the course.

For a different 2013 study, researchers found that men with low-risk prostate cancer who undertook comprehensive lifestyle changes, such as meditation, maintained a higher activity level of telomerase than men in a control group.  

Almost all of the studies – though small – point in this direction. 

"Being present in your activities and in your interactions is precious, and it's rare these days with all of the multitasking we do," Epel told the source. "I do think that in general we've got a society with scattered attention, particularly when people are highly stressed and don't have the resources to just be present wherever they are."

A master of meditation, Ilchi Lee points out that advancements in science are finally explaining things that meditators have experienced for generations. It all underlines the same verdict: Mindful meditation benefits the body and brain. 

Stress continues to be an epidemic in the U.S.

One-quarter of Americans Experience ‘Toxic Stress’

Stress is a normal part of life. But when it comes to a chunk of Americans, stress is running rampant.

More than 1 in every 4 Americans report having a great deal of stress in the previous month, according to a national poll conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard University's School of Public Health. Experts dubbed this "toxic" stress.

Half of all adults say they experienced a major stressful event in the past year, amounting to more than 115 million Americans.

Princeton University psychologist Eldar Shafir said that the poll only painted a corner of the picture, however. He explained that even though the poll captured the obvious degrees of stress that people are are conscious of, many people may be suffering from stress symptoms without realizing it. This "hidden" stress can inhibit our ability to deal with life's problems, both big and small.

When stress is chronic, our cognitive capacity actually shrinks. Think about playing a sport in cold weather. Our muscles tighten and we become less agile, slower and more prone to injury. Something similar occurs with people suffering from chronic stress.

Individuals' relationships become strained, their health compromised and their financial well-being strained. Unlike other polls, this NPR poll focused on the 26 percent of people who say they're currently living with a high level of stress. The trick is getting out of the cold. 

"These are not just the people who say they have some stress day to day," Robert Blendon, executive director, Harvard Opinion Research Program, told NPR. "These are the share of Americans for whom it really makes a big difference. It affects their ability to sleep and to concentrate. It leads them to have more arguments with family members. It affects their health."

Where Meditation Comes In
It may look like a bleak picture, but there is something we can do to brighten it. One of the best natural, stress-fighting remedies is meditation – and it's not just for yogis and hipsters.

Research has shown that mindful meditation calms the mind and body and can help build a fortitude against stress. In fact, quieting mental noise through meditation not only allows people to feel more relaxed, it makes their bodies physically more stress-resistant. Studies from the National Institutes of Health, Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine and Harvard Medical School indicate meditation reduces blood pressure, lowers the risk of heart attacks, boosts the immune system and can even activate disease-fighting genes.

This is exactly what stressed out people need, especially since poor health ranks as the biggest source of stress, according to the NPR poll. Even more than the death of a loved one, health-related problems triggers huge levels of anxiety.

Everyone from professional athletes to teachers to military members practice mindfulness training, and it doesn't take as long as you might think. Meditating for 15 minutes a day has been shown to churn out these load-lightening benefits.

Different Types of Meditation
Furthermore, there are lots of different types of meditation. If one technique that works for your friend doesn't sound like your style, you can look to dozens of others.

Ilchi Lee explains that meditation is an umbrella term for the many avenues to a relaxed state of being. Ways to meditate include guided meditation, where a leader uses guided imagery or visualization to form mental images or situations you find relaxing; mantra meditation, which involves silently repeating a calming word; mindfulness meditation, which focuses on breathing and increased awareness; and Qi going, a technique that blends meditation, relaxation and physical movement. Others include tai chi and yoga exercises.

Whatever stress you're going through, meditation may be able to help.

Meditation has been shown to enhance sports performance.

Can Meditation Improve Sports Performance?

For athletes in game, finding "the zone" can spell the difference between the road to victory or packing for home. Players have to block out yells and commotion from fans, overlook smack talk from opponents and find a rhythm in their play. 

So, in the last decade, fitness experts have been analyzing how flexing the mental muscle – such as with concentration techniques – compares to those reps of bicep curls. As it turns out, new research shows that practicing mindful meditation, which helps clear the mind and focus on the present moment, can improve an athlete's performance.

"Mindfulness meditation is a hot topic actively studied in sports medicine," Gregory Chertok, a sports psychology consultant with the American College of Sports Medicine, told Reuters.

A 2014 study published in the Psychological Science journal highlighted that 15 minutes of focused-breathing meditation may help athletes and exercisers make smarter choices. Further research indicates that meditation enhances attention and sharpens impulse control.

The art of living in the moment is essential in sports. But as abstract as that sounds, entering the "here and now" can be practiced. 

Mindful meditation combines breathing techniques with awareness of thoughts. Most of the time, it entails paying precise, nonjudgmental attention to the details of our experience as it arises and subsides. Through this, a practitioner can gain mastership over the mind and body. 

In a 2011 study by Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers discovered that 30 minutes of daily meditation increased gray matter in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory and learning, while decreasing the amygdala, the part of the brain connected to stress and anxiety. 

"If you think you have no time to meditate, how much time do you spend worrying?" Los Angeles-based yoga teacher Ashley Turner told Reuters.

For meditation for beginners, Turner recommends starting by just following your breath rather than by trying to meditate. Then add one minute every week until you reach 20 or 30 minutes. When the mind drifts, draw awareness back. 

The Man in the Mirror
As athletes, business people and other aspiring individuals know, the biggest opponent can often be the person looking at back at you in the mirror. That's why finding an inner calm can train your mind to be your best partner instead of your worst enemy. 

All performance occurs in the present. Brooding over shortcomings in the past or worrying excessively about future outcomes can result in anxiety, muscle tension and mental chatter that hinders concentration. 

By meditating, people can learn to soothe their thoughts and better control their emotions, helping them focus on the court, field or in the gym.

When a player has an off day, chances are they just couldn't get their body's action and mind's thoughts syncopated.

Another good way to get positive and encouraging thoughts back on track is through "technical self-talk," a mental strategy that has been shown to improve performance with the use of self-addressed cues like words or small phrases, which help focus attention and pysch one's self up. For example, freestyle swimmers might think to themselves in the pool, "elbow-up," to work on their technique. 

It is worth pointing out that findings show self-talk, which deals with similar mental strength-training as meditation, has a greater effect on novel tasks rather than well-learned ones. Essentially, if you are in the early steps of learning, technical and motivational self-talk may be more effective. 

An expert of meditation and innovative leader in the human brain potential development, Ilchi Lee, points out that whether on or off the field, athletes can harness mindfulness meditation so it works for them. Staying present in the moment mixed with visualizing success can help lead you toward personal development and a win.

Meditating for 15 minutes could help you make more rational choices.

Meditation Could Better Business Decisions

Buy or sell? Merge or split? Increase client quotas in the first quarter? These are some of the tough decisions business men and women make on a daily basis. Besides staying focused, it can be difficult to keep a level head amid business world's rapid pace. It's important to avoid knee-jerk reactions and instead sift through problems to reach the appropriate, shrewd solution.

New evidence from INSEAD and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania suggests that meditation could help business people make better, more rational decisions

The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science in a paper titled "Debiasing the Mind Through Meditation: Mindfulness and the Sunk Cost Bias," found that 15 minutes of mindful meditation can help us think more rationally and make more profitable choices. 

One of the authors of the study, INSEAD PhD student Andrew Hafenbrack, specifically focused on how finding that inner calm helps negate the "sunk cost bias," which in economics refers to past costs that have been to incurred in a project and cannot be recovered. Previous research shows that this can inhibit the decision-making process. However, economists point out that sunk costs should not affect the rational decision-maker's best option.

INSEAD assistant professor Zoe Kinias shared how business CEOs and the bosses calling the shots can fight off this effect. 

"First, meditation reduced how much people focused on the past and future, and this psychological shift led to less negative emotion," Kinias told Psychological Science. "The reduced negative emotion then facilitated their ability to let go of sunk costs."

For the study, the researchers split participants into two groups. The first group listened to a 15-minute recording by a mindfulness coach who guided them through a focused breathing meditation. The other group listed to a recording that asked them to think of whatever comes to mind – which is not mindfulness meditation. Then the groups were given a variety of sunk-cost scenario questions, answering to questions about whether they focused on past, present or future and the corresponding emotions. 

People in the first group had improved decision-making abilities, highlighting one of the many benefits of meditations. 

Ilchi Lee, a master of meditation, underscores that mindfulness allows us to wash over impulsive decisions and reconnect with values that we deem important. In business, this can result in sink-or-swim differences.

"This tool is very practical," Sigal Barsade, management professor at The Wharton School, told Psychological Science. "Our findings hold great promise for research on how mindfulness can influence emotions and behavior, and how employees can use it to feel and perform better."

Research continues to bolster meditation's benefits on the brain for people with ADD and ADHD.

Medication Versus Meditation to Treat ADD and ADHD

Attention deficit disorders seem to be an epidemic in the U.S. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 3 to 5 percent of children have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and roughly 60 percent of the time the symptoms carries over into adulthood. 

Characterized by the inability to concentrate, difficulty organizing tasks and repeatedly acting on impulse rather than thinking through problems, ADD limits people's abilities to succeed, whether in school or work. But to sidestep the flood of pills and medications running through the market, research has suggested that meditation may be the remedy to strengthen the mental muscle. 

Working Out the Mind to Treat ADD and ADHD
In 2007, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, highlighted that the rate of ADHD among teenagers in Finland was nearly identical to the incidence among teenagers in the U.S. The main difference was the while Americans were immediately turning to medication, most Finns were not. 

"It raises questions about using medication as a first line of treatment," Dr. Susan Smalley, a behavior geneticist at UCLA and the lead author, said in the report.

Last year, a large study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that although most young people with ADHD benefit from medications during the first year, the effects typically decline by the third year. 

"There are no long-term, lasting benefits from taking ADHD medications," Dr. James Swanson, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, and an author of the study, told The New York Times. "But mindfulness seems to be training the same areas of the brain that have reduced activity in ADHD."

Swanson went on to point out that this is why mindfulness, which revolves around controlled breathing, a peaceful environment and inner harmony, is so important. It appears to get to the root of the problem instead of hacking at the rotten fruit. 

Indeed, there are dozens of different styles of meditation that allow individuals to attain cognitive control. The New York Times defines cognitive control as impulse management, emotional self-regulation, the suppression of irrelevant thoughts and learning how to pay attention.

Lee: From Tangential to Tangible 
This precisely falls in line with the brain advancement efforts of Ilchi Lee, who is a master of meditation and president of the International Brain Association. As a child, Lee suffered from ADD, yet he overcame his condition naturally. How did he do this? By realizing the profound interconnectedness in the brain of the determinants of our physical, mental and spiritual health. Or in short, by training his brain through meditation, yoga and other focusing methods. 

Like exercising your muscles, meditating works out the area of the brain responsible for focus. The more one practices it, the stronger those cerebral reactions become.

This mental ability of concentration, researchers have found, predicts success both in school and in work life.

According to Betty Casey, director of the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, cognitive control increases steadily from about 4 to 12 years old, then plateaus. Once individuals reach the teenage years, impulses become harder to suppress, as all parents are aware.

Acting on impulse peaks around age 16, but most people in their 20s begin to achieve adult levels of cognitive control. 

Kids, teenagers and adults dealing with ADD or ADHD may want to try out sitting down in a serene room and going zen for 15 minutes or so. The meditation benefits for the brain are within reach. With guidance, people can learn how to self-regulate their internal distractions, as research from Emory University and the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience have shown.

"I was a skeptic until I saw the data, and the findings are promising," Swanson said.

Meditating can help clear the mind of extraneous thoughts and focus on the goal at hand.

Study: Meditation Helps Overcome Stress for Military Personnel

Like the entrepreneurs, professionals and students who practice meditation, military members are keen practitioners of mindful meditation.

Mindful training, which combines meditation and body awareness exercises, helps soldiers prepare for and recover from stressful situations. One could imagine how clearing the mind of extraneous thoughts might be practical in combat.

For the study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 147 marine infantrymen from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton took an eight-week course in mindfulness, specifically catered to those in highly stressful environments. The course included training on interoception, or the ability to help the body regulate its overall physical equilibrium by becoming aware of bodily sensations, as well as traditional meditation and homework exercises. The participants then underwent a mock combat in a training facility.

The researchers discovered that the heart and breathing rates of those who had received mindfulness training returned to their normal, baseline levels faster than those who had not received the training. The immune system was also boosted in those who meditated.

"Mindfulness helps the body optimize its response to stress by helping the body interpret stressful events as bodily sensations," Dr. Martin Paulus, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, said in a news release.

Paulus went to say that if you become aware of tightness in your stomach or muscles, your body will work to correct that tightness. This is among the many upsides of meditation benefits.

Applying meditation procedures into pre-deployment training could be a method to help military personnel reduces stress-related health conditions, including anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

"The brain adds less emotional affect to experiences and this helps with stress recovery," Paulus explained.

Ilchi Lee, a master of meditation, said the stress-relieving capabilities of meditation can be applied in everyday situations. There's little doubt that focusing the mind in a time of adversity is a monumental skill to have.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analyzed meditation techniques.

Different Types of Meditation Influence the Brain Uniquely

Meditation is an umbrella term that encompasses dozens of versions and evolutions of mindfulness techniques, from zen to acem to chakra to Buddhist to meditation drumming. Now, researchers are organizing the impact of each versions' influence on the brain. 

Despite the array of meditation types, they can be split into two main groups. The first is concentrative meditation, where the meditator focuses attention on his or her breathing or on specific thoughts. By doing this, he or she suppresses other thoughts. 

The other type is called nondirective meditation, in which the person who is meditating concentrates on his or her breathing or on a meditation sound, but allows the mind to wander as it pleases. A handful of modern meditation techniques fall under this category.

Dr. Jian Xu, a physician at St. Olavs Hospital and a researcher at the Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, recruited 14 people considered experts with extensive experience with the Norwegian practice of acem meditation. Using to magnetic resonance imaging machine, Xu and his colleagues compared and contrast the two different mental meditation activities, a more concentrative meditation task and nondirective meditation. 

Practicing concentrative meditation, the participants showed minimal activity levels, as if they were resting. On the other hand, nondirective meditation resulted in higher activity in the region of the brain responsible for processing feelings and introspective thoughts. 

"I was surprised that the activity of the brain was greatest when the person's thoughts wandered freely on their own, rather than when the brain worked to be more strongly focused," Xu told Psych Central.

The study, which was published recently in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, suggested that nondirective meditation allows the brain more room to filter through emotions and memories compared with concentrated meditation. Acem meditation was considered part of nondirective meditation.

"This area of the brain has its highest activity when we rest," Dr. Svend Davanger, a neuroscientist at the University of Oslo and co-author of the study, explained to the source. "It represents a kind of basic operating system, a resting network that takes over when external tasks do not require our attention. It is remarkable that a mental task like nondirective meditation results in even higher activity in this network than regular rest."

Since meditation is practiced by millions of people worldwide, it's crucial to understand how it really works. A master of meditation techniques and president of the International Brain Education Association, Ilchi Lee, is eager to watch further research shed light on the benefits of meditation. 

Meditation can improve concentration for both teachers and students.

Mindfulness Training Can Help Lower Teacher Stress and Burnout

Teaching can be a very stressful job. Unruly children, disruptive classrooms and long lectures can take a toll on a teacher's well-being, though little progress has been made to address the issue. However, a recent study showed that teachers who practice mindfulness can reduce their own levels of stress and prevent burnout, according to research conducted by the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Ma.

For the research, teachers were split into two groups: One group did not receive any meditation training while the second, consisting of 18 teachers, was recruited to take the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, a well-studied method of mindfulness training. While MBSR was part of the first efforts to train teachers as well as students, it was adapted by the project team to specifically fit the particular needs of elementary school teachers.

"We wanted to offer training to teachers in a format that would be engaging and address the concerns that were specifically relevant to their role as teachers," Lisa Flook, study leader and assistant scientist, said in a press release.

Mindfulness is a type of meditative tradition that dates back thousands of years. Though it was originally connected to spiritualism, mindfulness is now taught in a secular way. The technique has been shown to heighten attention and boost empathy through an awareness of breath and thoughts.

On top of learning specific strategies for dealing with stress stimuli in the classroom, the teachers were randomly assigned to practice a guided mediation at home for at least 15 minutes each day. Flook and her colleagues found that those who received mindfulness training had reductions in psychological stress, increases in self-compassion and improvements in classroom organization. In comparison, the teachers who received no MBSR training displayed increased stress and burnout over the course of the school year. The results were published in the journal Mind, Brain and Education.

Widening the Benefits
Furthermore, many teachers were instructed to use a technique in the classroom called "dropping in," which describes the process of bringing attention to the sensations of breath, thoughts and emotions for brief periods of time.

Expert on brain meditation, Ilchi Lee, elaborates that mindfulness is a tool that can be used almost anywhere and at anytime. It's not just sitting still and observing one's thoughts. Teachers and students can take advantage of meditation for concentration, whether they're doing homework, creating lesson plans or in the classroom during silent reading time. There is an array of meditation benefits for health that come along with take a step back from the situation, refocusing and refreshing.

To expand the benefits, Flook is also aiming to conduct a larger-scale, national project that connects students through the same process of meditation.

One Madison teacher, Elizabeth Miller, has even incorporated meditation into her curriculum.

"Breath awareness was just one part of the training, but it was something that I was able to consistently put into practice," Miller said in the press release. "Now I spend more time getting students to notice how they're feeling, physically and emotionally, before reacting to something. I think this act of self-monitoring was the biggest long-term benefit for both students and teachers."

Meditation might be the key to helping your business grow.

Meditation Culture Boosting Business Results

In a business, everything is centered around results. What was the company's growth rate last year, how many new employees were hired, what were the net profits in the first quarter? These are all questions a CEO might ask. But instead of scrambling for hours with your mind on overload trying to better your company's results, what if the answer was taking a step back for a moment to meditate, which many businesses and Fortune 500 companies have started doing.

Meditation has been sweeping the office workplace as of late. Companies such as Google, Apple, AOL and Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions have incorporated mindful meditation into their daily schedules and even meetings after recognizing meditation's benefits: Going zen has been shown to boost creativity, increase willpower and lower stress, so it's no surprise the practice has proven successful for many Fortune 500 companies. 

Whiter Image Dental, an international oral health distributor, recently joined the ranks of these enterprises by implementing daily mindfulness sessions in morning meetings.

"Twenty-minute mindfulness is a practice I've used in my daily life that has led to the progression of both personal and business relationships," Amanda Poe, Director of Marketing at Whiter Image Dental, stated in a press release. "Many of the employees in our office culture are already implementing meditation into their daily lives, thus we decided to make it a corporate policy."

While employees at Whiter Image Dental are not forced to meditate, they are required to take 15-minute breaks from their desks to take a step back, refresh and reanalyze their daily goals. Poe is optimistic that the new approach will jump-start employee morale as well as company revenues. 

Refresh and Restart
Although the relaxed, peaceful mind-set of meditation may seem at odds with the fast-paced business world, the two are more compatible than you might think. Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss and Jack Dorsey are some of the entrepreneurs who meditate each morning to help them perform at their best. What's more, the executive chairman of Ford, the former director of Google, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and the CTO of Cisco Systems all use mindfulness. Even meditation techniques for beginners have revealed neurological benefits. 

An expert of meditation and innovative leader in the human brain potential development, Ilchi Lee, highlights that reaching an inner calm helps our minds refocus. Sometimes when a computer begins running slow and lags, all it needs is a simple restart – the same holds true for busy individuals; meditation is their restart. 

Mindfulness increases productivity, cognitive function and even improves physical health. Oprah attributes meditation to giving her the clarity of mind and body reinvigoration to create an optimal work environment and the best life possible. She encourages employees to meditate at least 20 minutes a day and has even brought in professionals to help facilitate a state of restful awareness. 

Laughter is the best cure.

Laughter Produces Brain Waves Like Those in Meditation

Laughter is one of the great joys in life. It boosts our moods and leaves smiles on our faces. So, what does laughing have in common with meditation? In a new study from Loma Linda University Health, mirthful laughter was shown to produce brain waves similar to those associated with meditation.

While enjoying a good laugh, one's brain reacts in the same way as in "true state of meditation" – the desired mental state that experts and Buddhists reach.

For the study, 31 participants watched humorous, spiritual or distressing video clips while researchers monitored their brain waves. In particular, activity was gauged from nine cerebral cortex scalp areas using using an electroencephalograph (EEG).

During the funny videos, the volunteer's brains showed high levels of gamma waves, the same ones produced during meditation. While viewing the spiritual videos, participants' brains had higher levels of alpha brain waves, similar to when a person is at rest. The distressing video triggered flat brain waves band, found when a person feels detached and unresponsive.

"What we have found in our study is that humor associated with mirthful laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma-band oscillations," said Lee Berk, associate professor in the School of Allied Health Professions and associate research professor of pathology and human anatomy in the School of Medicine, according to PRWeb. "Gamma is the only frequency found in every part of the brain."

Mental Exercise
It's as if the brain is getting a workout, Berk went on, because the gamma wave band synchs with multiple other brain regions at the same 30 to 40 hertz frequency. As a result, people are able to think more clearly and have more integrative thoughts. These findings were presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference meetings in San Diego.

We've heard that laughter makes you live longer, and the new research bolsters the open-mouth joy with an exceeding therapeutic benefit. It may help alleviate symptoms from a variety of chronic medical conditions. Laughter may not only be a good antidote for the health of your body, but also for your brain.

Ilchi Lee, an expert of meditation benefits and the president of the International Brain Education Association, said that laughter and meditation are two powerhouses for body-mind health – and neither are too difficult. Reaching the desired state of meditation indeed takes practice, but if you attain it once, you can grasp it time and again. As for laughter, everyone from babies to seniors can enjoy it. However, putting yourself in the right situation where you know you have an opportunity for happiness can foster an environment rich in laughter.

Gamma Waves Throughout the Brain
The EEG monitor, called the B-Alert 10X System, measures and records the power spectral density of all brain wave frequencies from 1 to 40 Hz. When participants were hooked up to the EEG, their brain waves varied drastically while watching the video clips – just as different stimuli in the outside world affects us widely and sends us in various moods. A friend smiling to us may make us feel light hearted, a mother yelling at her son can trigger a sad empathy or comedian during a performance could throw us into a bout of laughter. The more we laugh, the more our gamma waves are activated, and the more we can simulate meditation wherever we go.

By this point, we all know that meditation works wonders for the brain. Not only does it ease brain activity to lower stress, meditation thickens gray mater commonly associated with memory, muscle control and sensory perception. So, on top of meditating throughout the week, you can also partake in some good belly-laughter.

"What this means is that humor actually engages the entire brain – it is a whole brain experience with the gamma wave band frequency and humor, similar to meditation, holds it there; we call this being 'in the zone,'" Berk concluded.

Read about the healing potential of Ilchi Lee's Brain Wave Vibration moving meditation technique.