A human body has the capacity to heal itself, you only need to be consciously aware about the process and choose the right medium to heal. One of the healing medium used for centuries is meditation, a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself.
Meditation affects your psychological well-being by reducing stress, depression, anxiety, blood pressure, addiction, boosts the immune system and improves memory. But did you know that meditation can change our brain structure in powerful and positive ways? We have always believed that brain essentially stopped changing after adulthood.
Meditation changes the structure of your brain
You have the capacity to heal the emotional dysfunctionality of your own brain. When you increase your awareness with mindfulness, you can transform your brain, create new circuits or change the way neurons talk to each other. Whenever you engage in a behavior over and over again, this can lead to changes in your brain. Take a look at the video below at TEDxCambridge where neuroscientist, Sara Lazar talks about how meditation can reshape our brains.
Meditation for a short time goes a long way in improving overall health
A study conducted by Sara Lazar showed that an 8-week mindfulness meditation program can lead to structural brain changes including increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. The participants also showed decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress.
A 2005 study on American men and women who meditated a mere 40 minutes a day showed that they had thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. What this meant is that their brains were aging at a slower rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with decision making, attention and memory.
Scientists studying the Chinese mindfulness meditation known as integrative body-mind training (IBMT) confirmed improved mood changes along with increased brain-signaling connections after practicing 11 hours of IBMT. They also found an expansion of myelin, the protective fatty tissue that surrounds the nerves, in the brain’s anterior cingulate region. Deficits in activation for this area of the brain have been associated with attention deficit disorder, dementia, depression, schizophrenia and many other disorders.
Meditation leads to positive structural changes to the brain – it makes certain brain regions thicker and others less dense.
It’s fascinating to see the positive effects of meditation, just being ‘aware’ can lead to such changes in the brain structure also known as ‘plasticity’ of the brain. The kind of life we lead is solely in our hands and we have the power and capacity to control our destiny. Simply meditating for 30 minutes every day can change your life!
This is what happens when you sit down and tune out! Here’s another video talking about the positive effects of meditation on the brain: