Your Brain on Meditation
Whether you have been thinking about starting meditating, or are avid with your daily practice, one of the biggest questions that people have about mediation is; what my brain on meditation really like? Most people know they feel better after they meditate, but recent studies have indicated that meditation itself actually has more of a physiological impact on the brain than we may have ever thought before.
While ancient proponents of meditation likely would have said this thousands of years ago—modern technology and research is confirming just how much of an impact this quiet and peaceful practice can have on our brains.
Your Brain on Meditation
Studies on meditation and the brain have found that doing this daily practice can actually impact the way the brain looks and acts. However, the key to really making these cranial changes all has to do with consistency.
Meditating once every other week is not going to help deliver consistent or noticeable results. However, if you are able to meditate each and every day for around 20 minutes—you will start to see the changes that we talk about below.
The Other Benefits of Meditation
Meditation can have a physical impact on the brain, but it can also come with a number of other benefits as well. Those who meditate regularly benefit from having a more regular schedule, better sleep, less stress and a more peaceful state of mind.
Simply put, you don’t need an MRI to see and feel the benefits that meditation can have on you.
Six Ways Your Brain on Meditation Can Change For the Better
Ever wandered what your brain looks like on a healthy, daily dose of meditation? There are several studies out there that highlight the positive changes you will see with a regular meditative practice.
1. Your Brain Can Be Better Persevered
A recent study from UCLA looked at the effects that long-term meditation can have on the brain of aging individuals. When compared to non-meditators, it was discovered that those who meditate regularly had more grey matter volume in the brain.
While more research is needed, this study indicates you may be able to better preserve your aging brain with regular meditation.
It is important to note that the participants who had less volume loss were those that had been meditating for 20 years. Simply put, there is no better time than the present to start meditating and keep with the practice for decades to come.
2. Your Brain Will Wander Less
Many people meditate regularly as a way to help those focus. The most interesting thing about using meditation in this way, is that there is no research to back it up.
One study from Yale University found that practicing regular mindful meditation actually decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN). This is the area of the brain responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts.
3. Your Brain May Experience Less Symptoms of Depression
One of the biggest recent revelations between meditation and the brain has to do with depression. A recent study from Johns Hopkins found that the effect of meditation on depression was the same as antidepressants.
While both medications and meditations only have a 0.3 effect size (which is moderate at best) meditation comes with more positive benefits and less side effects than medication, making it a safe and promising solution for the many people battling with depression.
While it is no magic treatment, it can really help people manage their symptoms.
4. Your Brain Will Be Better at Concentrating
Both adults and kids who struggle with ADD can really benefit from meditation. This is one of the central benefits of meditation. Not only will the mind wander less, as we discussed earlier—but it can help with focus and memory.
One study looked at the impact that regular meditation had on people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. The study found that after just a couple of weeks of meditating, participants saw an increase of 16 percent in their scores.
5. Your Brain Will Be Less Anxious
Those who suffer from regular anxiety and social anxiety can really see some brain benefits from regular meditation. While many people know that meditation can help with stress, additional evidence shows that it can particularly help with anxiety, even social anxiety.
There is a new specific type of meditation called the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practice that was developed at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness. The initial course was eight weeks and studies show that it not only helped those manage their anxiety originally, but even years after they were done with the course.
The unique thing about this type of meditation is that it not only helps manage anxiety through calm breathing, but it actually makes changes in the brain regions associated with those “me-centered” self-referential thoughts.
Another study even found that this type of meditation can make changes in the brain regions involved with attention, helping those who struggle with social anxiety find more peace.
6. Your Brain Will Have Better Control
One of the biggest things on the horizon for meditation research is how meditation can impact the brain in those who struggle with addiction. There has already been several studies on meditation and addiction—all of which show that this practice has positive effects on the self-control regions of the brain.
With this in mind, it is suggested that meditation can be very effective in helping people recover from different types of addiction. One study looked at smoking while others have focused on other forms of addiction.
Even though meditation has been around for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until recently that studies began to really highlight the benefits that it can have on the brain. There have already been several extensive studies on the impact that meditation can have on the brain—and more and more research is being done on it every day.
While the art of meditation may seem relatively simple, it is clear that there is a vast number of positive impacts it can have on our brains and how they work.