Research over the past two decades broadly supports the claim that meditation practiced widely for the reduction of stress and promotion of health. This exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and cognitive performance. Recent neuroimaging studies have begun to uncover the brain areas and networks that mediate these positive effects. However, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear, and it is apparent that more methodologically rigorous studies are required if we are to gain a full understanding of the neuronal and molecular bases of the changes in the brain that accompany mindfulness meditation.
Our brain is the most complicated mechanism on earth. It changes all the time and is shaped by the outside forces. It learns and responds to the stimulus of our daily life and that is why it changes structurally and functionally. Scientists call this as neuroplasticity.
Richard Davidson, A neuroscientist, says that meditation rewires the brain. Richard Davidson is also the founder of a research centre which studies the effect of Meditation on our brain. His research suggests that meditators can intentionally guide the brain on how to process information.
One of the scientific studies found that long-term meditators may develop more gyrification, or folding of the cortex, which is associated with faster mental processing and the more years a person meditates, the higher the degree of folding. Another study found evidences of increased thickness in the areas of the brain associated with attention and awareness of sensations and emotions in oneself and others.
Another research found that meditators who had practiced five years or more had “significantly larger volumes” of gray matter in the hippocampus, an area crucial to memory and learning. It’s possible, the researchers wrote, that the differences constituted “practice-induced alterations” to how quickly the region generated new neurons. Regular meditation, in other words, might help you grow more brain.
The areas of our brain which gets affected by regular meditation.
• Rostrolateral prefrontal cortex: A region associated with meta-awareness (awareness of how you think), introspection, and processing of complex, abstract information.
• Sensory cortices and insular cortex: The main cortical hubs for processing of tactile information such touch, pain, conscious proprioception, and body awareness.
• Hippocampus: A pair of subcortical structures involved in memory formation and facilitating emotional responses.
• Anterior cingulate cortex and mid-cingulate cortex: Cortical regions involved in self-regulation, emotional regulation, attention, and self-control.
• Superior longitudinal fasciculus and corpus callosum: Subcortical white matter tracts that communicate within and between brain hemispheres.
Meditation strengthens prefrontal higher order cognitive (thinking) processes that in turn modulate activity in brain regions relevant to emotion processing, such as the amygdala. A number of brain-imaging studies appeared to support this hypothesis. Buddhist philosophy teaches that identification with the static concept of “self” causes psychological distress. Studies of mindfulness meditators have shown an increase in positive self-representation, higher self-esteem, and higher acceptance of oneself. Multiple studies shows that the insular is strongly activated during meditation. This is thought to represent amplified awareness of the present moment experience. “This shift in self-awareness is one of the major active mechanisms of the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation.
The benefits of regular Meditation:
The benefits are almost endless and more and more research is coming out each week proving them.
– Harvard University found that two parts of brain increased in size after a few weeks of meditation.
– Increases connection between left and right brain.
– Reduces mental dialogue
– Gives emotional balance
– Meditation helps with OCD, ADD, ADHD and other brain issues.
– Increases intuition
– Increased Memory– Decrease fight or flight mechanism
– Increases Immunity, focus, will-power and ability to heal physically.
– Raise your vibration
– Reduces stress and anxiety
– Help get a better sleep
– Lowers blood pressure