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How Does Meditation Affect The Brain

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Does Meditation Affect The Brain In Tangible Ways

How Does Meditation Change the Brain? – Instant Egghead #54

I practice meditation on a daily basis! Why you might ask? Because meditation affects the brain in many ways that most people dont even understand. Meditation is one of my daily rituals and it has been ever since the year 2008.

People often ask me Zane why do you practice meditation?

My short and simple answer has always been: I do because meditation makes me feel GREAT!

And while this answer might satisfy, for the most part, I do get it though as to why most people follow up with the question but Zane HOW?

Arguments Against Meditation Research

world and to present day. Since the first documentation in 1500 BCE, meditation has been in practice. This exercise has been known to achieve mindfulness, self-actualization, and tranquility. Meditation aids a person in concentrating his or her full attention on a distinct sound, visualization, breath, or peaceful state. This ritualistic practice has been shared from culture to culture and spread within the Eastern religions. Meditation has been known to have positive benefits, however many researchers

How Does Meditation Affect The Brain And Improve Its Power

Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak. Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

Meditation has shown that regular practitioners can improve their daily lives in many ways with a 20-minute per day commitment.

Its not just about finding peace or relaxation.

There are several psychological and cognitive benefits which develop over time.

It is possible to see these advantages developed quickly, as meditation changes the brain in 8 weeks for some practitioners

It is never too late to get started either.

Anyone can begin to experience these benefits when they commit to a routine that includes meditation.

Now, lets try to answer the question: how does meditation affect the brain and improve its power?

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Seeing The Brain Through Meditation

The gray matter in your brain tells a lot about what happens as you sit down for brain training. The many meditation benefits for the brain triggered by daily practice are staggering. But what happens, exactly, to produce these exciting effects?

During the first few minutes of your meditation session, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is the first area to light up. This part of the brain filters experiences through a self-referential lens. As you ease into a meditative state, your brain is still bouncing from thought to thoughtthe monkey mind active in the trees. Thoughts that surface can be exaggerated outcomes due to your lived experience.

When youre able to rein in your attention, the lateral prefrontal cortex activates. Regardless of the method you usea mantra or breaththis shift can help you override the me from moments earlier. Thoughts during this phase are more rational and balanced, helping you see a more neutral perspective. Now youve settled into the sweet spot of meditation.

Practice for several weeks activates the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. In this state, empathy can develop, and compassion easily arises. This range of activation in the brain becomes stronger the longer you practice. The dedicated practice creates a gateway to a dynamic, gracious life.

Brain Structures And Neuroplasticity

How Does Meditation Change the Brain (Video)

Mindful meditation can create physical changes in the brain through neuroplasticity.

This increasingly popular concept refers to the brains ability to reorganize and change continuously throughout your lifespan. Behavior and lifestyle are major influencers on the brain. So, your life makes your brain constantly create new neural connections. Thats because neurons actively adjust to compensate to changes in your environment.

Brain cells go through a process of reorganization, dynamically adapting by creating new pathways inside the brain. How you think and feel changes these neural structures. By flexing the muscle of thoughtful attention, again and again, you effectively change the physique, or shape, of your brain. And its doesnt take much time, either.

Studies have shown it only takes eight weeks to change the shape of your brain, including an increase of gray matter volume. Gray matter is found in your central nervous system, and makes up of most of your brains neuronal cell bodies. This type of tissue is particularly important in areas responsible for muscle control, sensory perception, emotion, memory, decision-making, and self-control.

Through neuroplasticity, you can create and improve the connections between neurons as you alter the density of gray matter. You can effectively change your brain in just a few minutes a day.

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Make You More Kind Or Loving

Loving kindness meditation can foster compassion for yourself and others. It strengthens circuits in the brain that pick up on other people’s emotions, promotes altruistic behavior, and responsible for perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

To start a loving kindness meditation, you might envision a loved one in your mind and wish them happiness. You can then extend that love to yourself and other people in your life.

“You can use a simple phrase that you silently repeat to yourself, like ‘may you enjoy happiness’ as you hold that person in your mind,” Davidson says.

How Do I Pick The Best Type Of Meditation For Me

So, how do you find a type of meditation that you enjoy and are likely to continue practicing? Its easy to get overwhelmed with so many different varieties.

The solution? Run a meditation experiment.

Pick two or three different types that you think might be suitable for you. Then practice each for a week, journal your progress and at the end of the three weeks pick one to go forward with.

This will ensure that you find a type of meditation that is suitable for your personality type and that you enjoy enough to continue.

Here are two great guides if you want more resources to help you get started meditating:

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Prayer & Meditation Get Us Away From Fight Or Flight Mode

The link between deep reflection and a decrease in action can be a useful one while dealing with a trauma or other negative situation. Its pretty simple: When were praying, we cant be lashing out or kicking walls in. In other words, we cant react. This isnt to say one should bottle up their anger or sorrow and lock it up in a prayer, but for the sheer purpose of self-care, prayer and meditation can be useful when were barely able to cope.

“Prayer and meditation are highly effective in lowering our reactivity to traumatic and negative events,” says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a marriage, family and addictions therapist. “They are powerful because they focus our thoughts on something outside ourselves. During times of stress, our limbic system, more commonly known as our central nervous system, becomes hyper-activated, which does two things: it thrusts us in to survival mode where we freeze, fight or flee the situation, we move away from the present state of being into a future state. This also shuts down our executive functioning prevents us from thinking clearly. This is why when were stressed out we can make poor decisions and act in self-destructive ways.”

The Temporo Parietal Junction

This is How Meditation Affects Your Brain!!! | THE SCIENCE OF MEDITATION | davidji

We like to think that were good people empathetic, humane and just. Empathy and compassion are associated with the temporoparietal junction of the brain, or TPJ, as is our sense of perspective. We might say that the posterior cingulate focuses on me while the TPJ shines a light on everything else. The TPJ becomes more active when we put ourselves in someone elses shoes, for example. A stronger TPJcombined with other benefits of meditation like lower stress and present moment awarenesscan help us be the good people we aspire to become.

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Release Chemical Helpers With Mediation

Your brain naturally releases key neurotransmitters that help regulate the balance of vital hormones. They influence systems throughout the mind and body.

Studies show practicing meditation can directly impact the level of these crucial neurotransmitters produced in the brain. Mindfulness can have a measurable impact on these brain chemicals:

  • Serotoninincreases this feel good chemical to help regulate mood
  • Cortisoldecreases this stress hormone
  • DHEAboosts levels of this longevity hormone
  • GABA improves the calming effect of this major inhibitory transmitter in your central nervous system
  • Endorphinsincreases the natural high of this overall happiness neurotransmitter
  • Growth Hormoneelevates levels of this youth-preserving chemical that naturally declines with age
  • Melatoninboosts this sleep hormone responsible for restful sleep and helps with mood regulation

Manage Anxiety Or Depression

Mindfulness meditation helps train your mind to focus on the present, making you less likely to ruminate on anxious thoughts that can fuel depression.

A 2014 research analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindful meditation can help ease anxiety and depression, and could be part of a comprehensive mental health treatment plan.

Research has also supported the benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction a therapy program that incorporates mindfulness meditation. Studies have found that MBSR can help those with anxiety calm their minds and reduce symptoms of depression, including trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, and low mood.

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Benefits Of Meditation And How It Can Affect Your Brain

  • The benefits of meditation are extensive and backed by science.
  • The mental health benefits of meditation include better focus and concentration, improved self-awareness and self-esteem, lower levels of stress and anxiety, and fostering kindness.
  • Meditation also has benefits for your physical health, as it can improve your tolerance for pain and help fight substance addiction.
  • This article was medically reviewed by David A. Merrill, MD, PhD, psychiatrist and director of the Pacific Brain Health Center at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
  • This story is part of Insider’s guide on How to Meditate.

Numerous studies have proven the benefits of regular meditation.

These can include decreased stress, improved concentration, lower blood pressure, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, just to name a few.

And while there are different types of meditation, they can all offer a similar set of proven benefits for mental and physical health. Here’s what research has found.

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Does mindfulness meditation produce massive changes inside ...

Dr. Anna Yusim, a psychiatrist and the author of “Fulfilled: How the Science of Spirituality Can Help You Live a Happier, More Meaningful Life,” strongly recommends prayer and meditation, deeming them wonderful and powerful tools, but ones that are made all the more wonderful and powerful when coupled with concerted action.

A favorite meditation that Dr. Yusim recommends is the Loving-Kindness meditation, which blends breathing techniques with positive thoughts for all beings she suggests that after you complete this meditation, you straighten up and ask yourself this question:

What is one thing I can do to help somebody I love right now?

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Can Meditation Change The Way You Think

Should I, shouldnt I, what do I do?! Ah, the balancing act of making decisionssome come easy, others can be long and excruciating, others rash and regretful! Aside from writing a pro and con list, resorting to rolling a dice, or whatever method you exercise for making tricky decisions, there is something else that you can do to make future decision-making a calm and clear process. Hurrah!

Research published in NeuroReport shows that meditation increases gray matter in the frontal cortex, specifically the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and supporting creative, effective decision-making. So to make better decisionsstrengthen your prefrontal cortex by beginning daily meditation!

How Meditation Affects The Brain

We all know that a regular meditation practice has amazing benefits. Like reducing stress, muscle tension and helps with the management of chronic pain, anxiety and depression.

But how does meditation actually affect the brain?

Meditation ultimately affects us in three different parts: the physical, the conscious & sub conscious mind.

In 2012 a study was conducted on 100 individuals where researchers had 50 of the participants mediate and the other 50 did not. From this, they did brain scans on the participants and it showed that the people who meditated had more folds on the outer layer of the brain which suggested they had better ability to process information.

Meditation increases regional cerebral blood flow in the frontal and anterior regions of the brain and it has been found that people that meditate can do tasks a lot more efficiently. Furthermore, studies have found that when you age your gray matter in your brain which contains neurons decreases, however when you meditate that gray matter actually increases over time which in turn slows down the aging process.

Regular meditation practice also . By practicing meditation regularly your mind is able to take a break, and the deep relaxation helps your mind ease and thoughts release.

So how do I actually practice it?

Overall, having a regular deep breathing and/or meditation practice truly can create significant long term change not only on your mood or body but your brain as well.

References

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The Default Mode Network

You may have heard of the default mode network before, but if you havent, this is an extremely relevant topic for meditation practice. The DMN is a network of interacting brain regions that are essentially what are responsible for what you sense as the voice in your mind

The DMN consists of the brain regions of the medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and the inferior parietal lobule, all of which are important for our survival. This network is most active when we are awake, when we are thinking about ourselves, remembering the past, imagining the future, or anything that involves not being relaxed and attentive to whats happening right now.

The DMN is useful because its involved in our memory, particularly in the daily memories that play a role in helping us make a model of the world, and predict the future based on past events. The problem is, however, the models we create may not always be true, and sometimes we get stuck in these mental models and it makes it difficult to see anything other than the image our mind has created.

Another common issue, is that people unknowingly identify with the voice in the mind, as well as the models that the DMN has created for themselves, and dont realize that this is actually a process of the brain, one that is now measurable by magnetic resonance imaging.

Meditation And Stress Regulation

The Meditating Brain

A small study published in July 2016 in the journal Biological Psychiatry used brain scans to analyze the effects of meditation on the brain and peoples health.

For the study, researchers recruited 35 unemployed adults who were seeking employment and were under a considerable amount of stress. The participants were put into two groups for a three-day intervention: one that was taught a formal program of mindfulness meditation and one that was taught a sort of fake meditation program focusing on distracting oneself from worries, such as with chatter or jokes.

At the end of the intervention, participants underwent brain scans and found that those who had participated in the meditation training showed more expressive activity in the areas of the brain related to resting state.

At a follow up four months later, those who participated in the meditation group also had lower levels of a marker in their blood tied to unhealthy inflammation, a physical condition closely related to stress.

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This Story Is Part Of A Group Of Stories Called

Finding the best ways to do good.

Eight weeks ago, I started meditating every day.

I knew Id be going home to visit my family at the end of December, and well, I have a bad habit of regressing into a 13-year-old whenever Im around them. All my old immaturities and anxieties get activated. I become a more reactive, less compassionate version of myself.

But this holiday season, I was determined to avoid fighting with my family. I would be kind and even-tempered throughout the visit. I knew that in order to have a chance in hell of achieving this, Id need a secret weapon.

Thats where the meditation came in.

Starting in 2005, Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar began to publish some mind-blowing findings: Meditation can literally change the structure of your brain, thickening key areas of the cortex that help you control your attention and emotions. Your brain and possibly, by extension, your behavior can reap the benefits if you practice meditation for half an hour a day over eight weeks.

Just eight weeks? I thought when I read the research. This seems too good to be true!

I was intrigued, if skeptical. Above all, I was curious to know more. And I wasnt the only one. By 2014, there had been enough follow-up studies to warrant a meta-analysis, which showed that meditators brains tend to be enlarged in a bunch of regions, including the insula , parts of the cingulate cortex and orbitofrontal cortex , and parts of the prefrontal cortex .

How To Meditate To Change The Mind

Keep a witness to what is happening. And then a miracle happens. Gradually, the person becomes aware that thoughts are becoming less. It is as if the traffic depends on your perception. When you are fully conscious, even if it is only for a minute, all thoughts end. Suddenly everything stops. And the road becomes empty. That moment is called meditation.

  • All you have to do is focus on your breath.
  • And allow your thoughts and feelings to come and go.
  • Continuous practice skills such as meditation, concentration, awareness will greatly increase.
  • Oversight leads to constant stress and constant stress leads to mental health such as depression and anxiety.
  • Meditation reduces the size of the medulla which is a fear center of the brain, which is where negative feelings and thoughts originate.
  • In addition, meditation reduces stress hormone levels. Overall, meditation helps to deal with stressful situations.
  • You will be more confident, empathetic, creative, etc.
  • This can help you achieve personal goals as you are less likely to be relaxed at work.

Now you can see who you are without any bias. To know oneself is to know all that is worth knowing. And not knowing anything about yourself not knowing anything. A person can know all about the world, but if he does not know himself, he is completely ignorant.

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