Not all of us are neuroscientists but we do know that meditation is somewhat good for the brain. How is it good for the brain though? What kind of benefits does it actually bring? And are they significant? So many questions yet little do we know.
Having read some research by one of the world’s top neuroscientists Richie Davidson and his group of colleagues, we’ve learnt three key things about the brain:
1. You can train your brain to change
2. The change is measurable
3. New ways of thinking can change the brain for the better
According to Davidson, the practice of meditation even at a period of 30 minutes can display measurable changes in the brain which is trackable by a brain scanner. This means that daily meditation can significantly adapt your brain and improve it’s functionality.
So here are the 4 key benefits to your brain that daily meditation practice allows:
1. Increased Grey Matter
An increase in grey matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.
The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which is located just behind the brain’s frontal lobe is known for it’s ability to monitor things like cognitive flexibility and attention conflicts.The prefrontal cortex, also found close to the frontal lobe has functions based on problem solving, regulating emotions and planning. The hippocampus, which is part of the limbic system facilitates the learning and memory side of things and is sensitive to stress-related disorders.
2. Decreased Amygdala Size
The decrease in amygdala size means a decrease in cell volumes relating to fear and anxious emotions, creating a more peaceful mind.
3. Changes in Functionalities in Certain Networks
In addition to a smaller amygdala size, certain networks also start weakening after a practice of meditation. This allows the brain to strengthen and focus on higher brain functional networks instead of focusing on reactive networks.
4. Reduction in Activity in the Brain’s Center
After a meditation session, there is a decreased activity level of our Default Mode Network (DMN), which is often when our minds go walkabouts when we get distracted. After repeated levels of mindfulness, the brain becomes more efficient with its regulators. This allows us to be less reactive and actually stop, be more aware and more accepting to certain thoughts.
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