Meditation and what it does to your Brain.

Ever wonder what meditating does to your mind, trying this first hand is a good way to find out.

Many people think that meditating is hard or that it does nothing, while this is kind of true at first it tends to change over time like anything you get better with practice, it’s not easy at first to calm the mind from all those whirling thoughts and distracting anxieties and this can be very discouraging to the beginner especially in western culture where this is not something we are taught to do from a young age. what happens to your brain when you begin to meditate?

Following excerpt is from Collective Evolution

A group of Harvard neuroscientists came together to study the benefits of meditation on the brain and how it affects mindfulness. Sara Lazar enrolled her team of 16 subjects  in a 8 week mindfulness program to see if meditation, over a short period of time, could begin to create changes in lifestyle and the brain.

The subjects were given a 45 minute guided mindfulness exercise to be used daily and they were encouraged to do various daily activities with as much mindfulness as possible. On average the subjects performed about 27 minutes of mindfulness each day. The results of this study is discussed below.

Britta Hölzel, the lead author on the paper says, “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”

One of the biggest things that happens to our brains when we meditate is that it stops processing so much information. Beta waves generally indicate a processing of information. When beta waves are decreased, we see a decrease in information processed. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI) we can see how and where beta waves are decreasing the most. This is indicated by the color changes in the image below.

MRI images before and after meditation.

MRI images before and after meditation.

Taking things a little deeper, the following areas of the brain were affected by meditation in different ways.

Frontal lobe
This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline.

Parietal lobe
This part of the brain processes sensory information about the surrounding world, orienting you in time and space. During meditation, activity in the parietal lobe slows down.

The gatekeeper for the senses, this organ focuses your attention by funneling some sensory data deeper into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle.

Reticular formation
As the brain’s sentry, this structure receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert, ready to respond. Meditating dials back the arousal signal.

This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.” Sarah Lazar Ph.D., the study’s senior author.

Pretty fantastic, right?

Slowing the brain receptors down, for someone with anxiety, would bring their world more into focus, or could this even help patients treat depression as well as anxiety helping them to deal with the day to day stressors? I know for my self that meditating has changed me for the better I am no longer on some of the heavy medications I used to be on to deal with my anxiety and depression. This however does not mean that I don’t take medication it just means that I can deal with my day by using less. I also work with my doctor when it comes to anything homeopathic, as I don’t want to mix things that might harm me with my current routine. Though I have a heavy spiritual practice and meditation is part of that mix I make sure that it is not the only method I use to take care of me. Meditating helps but to much can be harmful, on average I spend about half an hour a day meditating enough time to bring me back to my center and calm my mind.

So would you start a meditation practice if it would help you mentally?

If yes then do it, you won’t regret it.

If you have any questions you can contact me here.

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