What meditation does to your brain
If you have acquired the habit of meditating, surely you can talk about the multiple benefits that this habit has brought to your life on a physical, mental, emotional and even perhaps spiritual level. However, until recently there were only testimonies from those who practice meditation to verify that it is good for the integral health of the human being.
It was recognized as a positive and de-stressing practice, but it had never been proven, through neuroscience, that meditating did good to our brain and body. Today, there is extensive and profound research that proves that meditation favors the plasticity of our brain, accelerates our neural connections and stimulates, among others, empathy and compassion. Genial. guru wants to share with you this valuable information that will give you convincing arguments to include meditation in your daily life.
Sara Lazar, a professor at the Harvard Medical School and associated with the Massachusetts General Hospital, is a neuroscientist with a great academic career who has devoted her last years of study to find the relationship that exists between meditation and the functioning of the brain. His curiosity about this topic began one day, while he was training for the Boston Marathon and, by medical recommendation, he began to look for practices that would allow him greater muscular flexibility. Her personal doctor encouraged her to practice yoga. She, a bit reluctant, enrolled in a course for beginners aiming only at improving her flexibility.
After a short time of practicing every day, Lazar noticed that she was calmer, could face complex situations with some ease and noticed more compassion in her daily life, as well as a certain inclination to accommodate different points of view to her own.
This finding made her question her scientific certainties and want to study in depth the effects of yoga in the human brain. In principle, the doctor examined the gray matter of two groups of people: one made up of men and women who have meditated a good part of their lives and, on the other hand, a control group with people who did not practice meditation or any other exercise related. Lazar found that there is more gray matter in the brains of those who meditate, particularly in the frontal cortex (associated with memory and decision making) but, especially, in the sensory cortex, the insula and regions related to hearing. .
In a following experiment, Lazar studied the brain activity of people who had never meditated before and who for 8 weeks, for 40 minutes a day, would participate in a mindfulness program aimed at reducing stress. The idea was to compare basic and complex brain functions before and after the 8-week period.
The results were simply amazing. It was found that even in such a short period, the brains of the people in that second group had significant changes for good in several regions and essential brain functions:
- The posterior cingulate cortex, associated with wandering and self-importance.
- The right side of the hippocampus, associated with learning, cognition, memory and regulation of emotions.
- The temporoparietal juncture, where the taking of perspective, empathy and compassion are processed.
- The brainstem bridge, which produces a good amount of the neurotransmitters with which our brain works.
- The amygdala, which some consider outside the brain, was also reduced as a result of meditation, which has been linked to the diminution of emotions such as anguish, fear and tension.
All the studies in this regard, until now, conclude that meditation directly affects the functioning of our brain and favors some essential, simple and complex functions that allow us to lead a more peaceful, healthy and empathetic life with others. You already know how to meditate!