How Meditation Rewires the Brain
Started in the East and preached rigorously by the Buddha, meditation has now made its way into the scientific circles of the Western world. With the advent of the latest neurological testing methodologies, such as the MRI and EEG, it has become easier for scientists to delve deeper into the previously unfathomable parts of the human brain and study its inner workings.
The scientific studies have shown that mindfulness and meditation can actually rewire the brain and lead to positive changes. Let’s dig down a bit deeper and take a look at how meditation affects our brains for good:
Meditation May Help Our Brains Last Longer
According to a study published by the department of Neurology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), brain scans of mediators and non-mediators showed a marked difference. The study found that participants who had been meditating for around 20 years had a higher level of grey matter throughout the brain.This insignificant as grey matter atrophy has been linked with many age-related disabilities.
Meditation Can Reduce Ruminating Thoughts
Default Mode Network (DMN) is an area of the brain that is activated when we are not thinking about something useful or relevant – when the mind wanders from thought to thought without any specific purpose. Research has shown that this mindless rumination is linked with unhappiness.
Meditation, it has been found, can reduce activity in this part of the brain. According to a study, mindfulness meditation can tone down DMN, thereby reducing negative and wandering thoughts.
Meditation Can Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
In a systematic review by a Johns Hopkins’ researcher Madhav Goyal, it was found that meditation has the same effect as antidepressants in relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression. The fact that meditation can rival medication is quite amazing.
Meditation Enhances Attention and Concentration
This one’s not surprising as one of the goals of meditation is to help you focus on a particular thing or idea. However, scientific backing can illuminate people’s perception about the method. One study showed that just a few weeks of meditation training can improve people’s focus and memory retention on GRE’s verbal reasoning section.
Meditation Positively Impacts Self-Control Areas of the Brain
One of the purposes that Buddha used meditation was mind control. Today, it has been found that meditation does affect self-control regions of the brain. A research studying meditation’s effectiveness in dealing with smoking cessation found positive results. It was found that not only did meditation helped participants quit smoking, it also made sure that the participants in the experimental group were less likely to experience relapse.
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