Meditation is more than the physical practice of closing your eyes and quieting the mind. You need to focus on your breath, your body, and eventually abandon the distractions that rise up during your meditation practice. Because of this, you wind up feeling more centered in your daily life, and you may even gain some superhuman benefits of meditation. Although meditation has numerous benefits, what should interest you the most is how this practice affects the brain.
First, what is meditation?
Meditation is mindfulness practice that is defined as focusing time with a goal in mind. That goal is to sustain a present here-and-now state of mind. Meditation is usually performed in a quiet, comfortable place either sitting up, lying down, walking, or anywhere else one can enjoy a calm state of mind, such as yoga class, weight lifting, or during a jog. When practiced, practitioners often experience changes in heart rate, breathing, and cortisol levels for the better, meaning that the overall response to meditation is positive.
If you want to change and reshape your brain, here’s everything you need to know:
- A Physically Better Brain
A study from 2011 from Harvard-affiliated researchers found that in just as little as 27 minutes a day for eight weeks, practicing mindfulness resulted in “increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus…and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.”
- Stress Reduction
Even though stress reduction is the number one reason why people turn to meditation, it might come as a surprise that meditation actually does what it’s supposed to do. In one study of 3,500 people, it was found that meditation programs improved anxiety, pain, distress, and mood about quality of life.
Since stress impacts the brain, less stress means better health and perspective overall.
- Better Emotional Health
Meditation may even improve depression and help you develop a more positive outlook about you life, especially if your meditation habit is ongoing. In a study with over 4,600 adults, it was found that depression decreased the more often one practiced meditation. Another study that followed 18 individuals for three years found that meditation mitigated depression over time. With the adverse effects depression has on the brain, such as causing hormone imbalances, there’s no reason not to give meditation a try—and sticking with it.
- Longer Attention Span
When you are unable to focus on a specific task, you may become unable to fulfill tasks and feel disoriented. Meditation, however, can increase your ability to maintain your attention a specific motion. Not only will you be able to do specific tasks more efficiently, but you will also remember the details of tasks in greater detail than someone who doesn’t practice meditation.
The bottom zine is that meditation has a positive effect on your brain’s health. Whether you want to try meditation to improve your concentration, emotional health, combat depression or stress, or just want to enjoy a quiet moment, meditation can help. The best part is that meditation can be customized to what you love to do—so you can start whenever you are ready.