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How Meditation Changes Your Brain

How Meditation Changes Your Brain

 

 Ever since ancient times, it was known that devoted meditation practicants developed in time many abilities that usual people found difficult to attain through normal efforts: better focus, sharp memory, clear thinking, a state of calm and detachment, a broad understanding of life, the sense of integration with the universe, patience, compassion, abilities to predict future events or even to influence present ones.


In those times, these gained capabilities were not easy to explain and sometimes considered supernatural, strange or even a scam by the non-initiated. But today with the tools of modern science and statistics, we have been able to decompose, bit by bit, this meditation puzzle, and understand through brain scans, lab analysis and collective studies what really happens inside the brain during the meditation process, and how can it change our lives to better.

Decreases beta waves

In most of our daily activities the brain functions by constantly processing thoughts and signals that come from our sensory organs. That implies a high level of activity in frontal lobe, parietal lobe and thalamus and the generation of beta waves that are specific to analysis, data processing, problem solving and so on. During meditation, the generation of beta waves are considerably reduced. In this way, the conscious part of our mind is shut down, and the subconscious part is brought to surface.

According to eastern meditation writings, the subconscious part holds the greatest hidden treasures of the human consciousness - the intuition, the ability to heal, to access traumas and blocked energy, to work with the energy in the subtile planes, the connection with the universal knowledge and the Divine. The more this part is active, the more these abilities come to the surface and the person is being able to use them in order to regain the beauty and the simplicity of life.


Loosens the neural connections that lead to anxiety and stress

In our brain there are certain areas responsible for emotional response and interpretation:

  • The amygdala - also called the “fight or flight” or fear center - responsible for perceiving the emotional responses and reactions to stimuli that we consider threatening or dangerous
  • The “Me Center” - the Medial Prefrontal Cortex more precisely - processes information related to ourselves and our experiences, our desires, our goals, our integrity.
  • The Assessment Center - the Lateral Prefrontal Cortex - the more rational part of the brain, involved in modulating emotional responses received by fear centers, interpreting information, reasoning. Helps us see things in a more balanced and reasonable way.

In normal states of the brain, the exchange of information between Amygdala and the Me Center is pretty high. That means any external stimulus that triggers an undesired emotion inside of us, we automatically interpret as threatening to Us - our security, our goals, our person. We take things very personally, as we say, and we react by amplifying these emotions and taking unconstructive actions that in time lead to states of anxiety, stress, depression or bad habits.

After practicing meditation for a while, the link between Amygdala and Me Center starts to loosen. That means we no longer directly interpret any emotion of fear, worry, or unpleasant body sensation as something that will threaten our existence. But instead, we will be more rational and balanced about it, and willing to see them in a broader perspective. That is because the link between the Me Center and the Assessment Center starts to build up after meditation training.

So instead of reacting uncontrollably, or with a random emergency action, we will tend do ponder things and take more constructive and decisive actions.

 

Brings more empathy and compassion

Data demonstrates that after a sustained meditation practice, links between emotional processing parts that relate to other people (the Insula) and parts of the brain responsible for assessing information about people who we perceive “not like us”(the Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex) begin to strengthen. That means we’re more likely to respond with positive emotions and relate with people who perceive things in a different manner than ourselves. It becomes easier to put ourselves into their shoes and see where they’re coming from, which translates in empathy and compassion.

 

Many people love deepening their meditation practice by sitting on their Ajnamat while they meditate.

Make meditation one of your daily rituals. See our AJNA RITUALS page for more ideas and inspiration about how to win the day!

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation

https://www.mindful.org/how-the-brain-changes-when-you-meditate/

https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-meditation-affects-your-brain#






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