AUSTRALIA’S scientists have discovered a connection between Buddhist practices and the brain function of the elderly.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne’s Institute of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy have found that people with dementia are more likely to be Buddhist.
Buddhism is a religion which has roots in ancient China, and was brought to Australia by the Portuguese missionaries in the 19th century.
Its followers are often seen as a religious minority, with some people living in extreme poverty.
They say their practices have helped them cope with illness, and have also helped them with dementia.
Dr Sarah Risley, lead author of the study, said the research showed the Buddha and his teachings helped to alleviate symptoms of dementia.
“We found that the Buddha’s Buddhist practice was related to increased brain activity in older people, which is a key finding in this study,” she said.
“He believed that people who practice this form of meditation will be healthier and less likely to develop dementia.”
She said older people were more likely than younger people to be Buddhists, but they had different experiences of the religion.
“They have more difficulty with the process of awakening,” Dr Risleys research partner, Dr Rebecca Taylor, said.
She said the findings showed the importance of practicing mindfulness in the elderly, which involves observing how the body feels and breathing.
“People tend to think of mindfulness as an activity that people do while they’re sleeping,” Dr Taylor said.
But she said meditation also helped people cope with stress and depression.
“There is research suggesting that meditation may also have beneficial effects in the mental health of the older population,” Dr Rosalie Schaeffer said.
The research was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Topics:mental-health,medicine-and-diseases,health,dementia,disease-and_disorder,buddhisms-and/or-religion,community-and.marriage,australiaFirst posted January 09, 2019 06:59:54Contact Michelle McLeodMore stories from Northern Australia