Meditation is an ancient practice. Though once linked mostly to religious traditions, more and more non-religious people are today taking up the practice for the many benefits it provides the mind and body, including the strengthening of a person’s mental abilities and capacity for long-term happiness. Recent scientific studies are increasingly demonstrating the amazing effects that meditation has on the brain health of its adherents.
Here are just a few of those miraculous impacts.
The Healing Power of Meditation for Brain Health
The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.
– Carolyne Miss
It reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
Meditation has been found to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with a dedicated practice. People who meditate are less prone to being afflicted by anxiety and depressive disorders than people who do not. This is because it stops the action in the “me center” of the brain, and strengthens your self-control. It also strengthens your ability to accept things as they are, keeping you from jumping to frightening conclusions.
It reduces activity in the brain’s “me center”
There is an area of the brain that is most active when the person is busy doing nothing and just drifting from thought to thought. It is also the area that is active when the person is engaged in too much self-assessment. It’s called the default mode network, or DMN for short. Too much activity in the DMN can lead to depression. Psychologists have therefore aimed to calm down the DMN’s rumination activities, and have found that meditation can be an effective way to do this.
It improves concentration and attention
Meditation has even stronger effects on young people than on adults. It alleviates stress, allows them to think better, and makes them happier. School children who were made to take two meditation breaks per day were found to get higher grades, and the schools recorded fewer absences.
Adult meditators who participated in medical research also reported having stronger concentration and attention.
It can help you recover from addiction
In meditation, as you sit down and appear to be doing nothing, you are in fact working on controlling your breathing and your mind. Frequent meditation can therefore help people with different types of addiction to control their cravings by strengthening their self-control. Meditation has been found to help smokers quit smoking, and it is currently showing great promise in helping people recover from addiction to more serious substances like heroin.
It slows the aging of your brain
It is natural for our brains to deteriorate as we get older. Still, research shows that the brains of people with a long-term meditation practice deteriorate at a slower rate than the brains of people who have not been meditating. So a frequent meditator can be 79 and still have a strong and youthful brain!
It can change the structure of the brain
Meditation is so powerful that it can allow you to create what wasn’t there. Brain scans have shown that a few years of meditation make the brain bigger, expanding its essential parts and strengthening its connections. The practice has also been found to weaken the amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for negative emotions and the creation of trauma. With meditation, you can literally turn yourself into a better person, neurologically!
Join the movement
Now is the time to join the clan of meditators who spend a few minutes of their time each day to make themselves healthier, happier, and better. You can spread the great news about meditation to your community by sharing how the practice is improving your wellbeing, life, and relationships.
You can also teach your kids to meditate, or suggest to the nearby schools to include it in their activities. If you have not tried any meditation yet, you can start today or anytime you choose. You can meditate by yourself or with a friend, or join meditation classes for a more fun experience.