I had never given much thought to the thickness of my cerebral cortex or the volume of my brain, nor had I considered how increasing them would help regulate my attention span and emotions.
But this, experts tell us, is what can happen when we meditate regularly. It's the science behind the fad that makes mindfulness — observing and accepting our thoughts as they occur in the present moment without judgment — an antidote to our ADHD way of life. It's why seemingly everyone you meet has tried meditating or plans to.
I'm one of millions — or, one of "them," as a coworker put it — who meditates daily. Even without a brain scan, I can tell you that since I've begun, my brain is healthier. A recent checkup also indicates that my cholesterol, blood pressure, resting heart rate and a half-dozen other health metrics are at their all-time best. Studies tell me that meditation has something to do with this as well.
But the numerical aspect of my well-being is much less important to me than how I feel, and my life has been undeniably richer. I feel unhurried, sharp, focused, patient and more at ease with others and myself than I can remember. Friends have even commented on my social media postings, asking if my account has been hacked by some Russian gang that posts pictures of dogs, roses, kids and sunsets with nefarious intent. But nope, it's just me.
To be clear, I'm not an ashram-y guy. I don't burn incense, wear hemp or quote the Upanishads. I have not had a blinding moment of enlightenment.
I spent much of my adult life like most everyone, building a career and raising a family. But over time, life gets complicated, and it's easy to get swept up by daily hassles and the tidal wave of hormones — cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine — that make us frantic, reactionary and overly sensitive.
For me, that meant that I became, at times, "that guy." The impatient one in the Starbucks line talking about work on my phone like I was negotiating a NATO treaty; the coach in youth soccer who told a kindly, annoying ref named George to go &%$* himself; the distracted father and husband who monitored his email as if it were the Nikkei.