Inner Reflections
June 5, 2023

Preventing Memory Loss

I don’t know about you, but the idea of losing my memory is the scariest potential health crisis I can imagine facing as I age. Having witnessed to my grandmother, uncle, and step grandmother slowing fade from the impacts of Alzheimer’s and dementia, I am clear that I would like to do everything within my power to maintain healthy cognition. 

Pregnancy and early motherhood gave me a brief introduction to what it might feel like to lose my mind. I went through a period when sleep deprivation paired with the impacts of a global pandemic left me with intense brain fog ranging from forgetting words or forgetting mid-sentence what I was saying. As a person who has relied heavily on my memory skills to do my job, this was startling. Based on those experiences, I’ve become fascinated with cognitive health and longevity so I created “Memory Boost: An 8-week Mindfulness Meditation Series” which will leverage your bodily state to improve your memory.

This series was designed based off of the latest scientific research out of Dr. Wendy Suzuki’s lab at New York University. Dr. Wendy Suzuki is a professor of neural science and psychology as well as the dean of New York University whose research focuses on memory, attention, brain plasticity and simple, daily habits that can be leveraged to improve learning, focus, memory and cognitive ability. Dr. Wendy Suzuki’s lab has demonstrated that a daily 10 – 12 minute body scan meditation, done for seven days a week over the course of 8 weeks, leads to significant decreases in the stress response, improved mood, and increased cognitive performance which is why this series is comprised of eight, time-specific body scan meditations.

Simultaneously, Dr. Andrew Huberman’s lab has emerging research and the early indications show that once you’ve learned how to drop into a meditative state, you can decrease the durations of your meditations and still receive the same benefits, which is why I’ve structured the lengths of the meditations in this series to slowly increase and then drop back down again over the course of 8 weeks. You will progressively build to the longest practice slowly increasing your muscles of attention and focus and then you will progressively scale back down again. The intention of this structure is to make it digestible even for the busiest of people while demonstrating your ability to drop into meditative states more efficiently with consistent practice.

But there are key components to improving memory which go beyond a meditation practice. While the data on meditation has proven to support improved cognitive ability, meditation alone will not support your long-term memory. The key to sustaining your memory also includes exercise and sleep. Meditation, Sleep, and Exercise are the 3 key foundations to improving and sustaining your memory over a lifetime. Research has shown that even just 30 minutes of an age-appropriate workout will lead to decreased anxiety, depression, and hostility scores as well as feelings of increased energy and improved reaction times.

It’s important to also know we will all experience age-related memory loss unless our genetics are especially outstanding, but there are steps you can take to prevent unnecessary cognitive declines. Memory loss often occurs based on stress levels – you don’t remember as much when you are under a great deal of stress – so learning how to care for yourself and manage your stress is key. This is why the combination of exercise, sleep, and meditation is so impactful on your cognitive function.

Dr. Wendy Suzuki’s research shows people generally begin noticing small incidents of memory loss in their 50’s or 60’s but in a longitudinal study of Swedish women, women who had a high level of fitness when followed up with 40 years later had nine more years of cognitive function. So, taking care of your body is essential to caring for your mind. When you exercise, she says it gives your brain a bubble bath of critical chemicals and your body vitality leads to your brain vitality, which is why it’s important for you to leverage everything IDM TV has to offer (and which is why we address all six of your human dimensions!)

This series will start slow and will build from there. The same way we would build a muscle in your body, this is how we will build your cognitive muscle – mindfully over time. Your first week is a simple 3-minute meditation. From there we will build each week to five, eight and ten minutes and eventually 12 minutes before slowly scaling back down again. I promise, you have time for this and your future self will thank you.

Make sure to check our Lauren’sMemory Boost: An 8-week Mindfulness Meditation Series” streaming now exclusively on Inner Dimension TV!

By Lauren