How meditation changes your brain
Meditation is one of the most popular stress relievers in the world. It has been practiced for centuries to reduce mental and physical tension, improve wellbeing, and enhance spiritual awareness. There are many different types of meditation practices that you can try out - all with their own benefits. This blog will explore what meditation is, how it changes your brain, the benefits of mediation practice, and tips on getting started.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the practice of focusing on an object, sound, or activity in order to increase concentration and decrease stress. It can be used for healing mind and body by increasing your awareness of thoughts (and not judging them), while at the same time calming yourself through breath work. Different meditation practices can focus on different things - some people prefer visualising images like a candle flame; others may find it easier to meditate when they are outside listening to birdsong. Meditation could be a walk or it could also be chanting a prayer or mantra.
What does science say?
The impact on the brain of meditation has been studied extensively and research has found evidence that it improves the function of the following areas:
- Sense of self
- Stress regulation
Studies of the brain differences of meditators reveals that there is more grey matter in parts of their brain associated with learning, memory, emotion regulation, and perspective. They have also found that they had an increased number of connections between regions of the brain previously thought to be unrelated. Studies have also shown that people who meditate for eight weeks experience changes in the white matter of their brains, which helps them to focus on positive thoughts.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, improve resilience and wellbeing. It can be used as a form of therapy for people with different mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and addiction. It has been suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may help in dealing with negative thoughts or rumination. When you begin your practice it's important not to get caught up on whether you're doing it 'right' - just focus on being present and enjoying yourself.
There are many benefits associated with practicing mediation - both physically and mentally. It has been proven to reduce stress levels by lowering cortisol (the hormone related to chronic stress), while at the same time increasing serotonin - which improves mood. Meditation also increases connectivity between different parts of our brains, making it easier for us to switch quickly from one task or thought pattern to another. Finally, meditation can improve your sleep quality because you'll be less preoccupied about thoughts running through your mind when trying to fall asleep.
How to start a meditation practice
If you're interested in trying out mediation, there are a few different ways to get started. One of the most popular methods is mindfulness meditation, where people focus on their breathing and thoughts while bringing awareness to present moment experiences without judgment or avoidance. You can also try guided meditations such as those found on Insight Timer - of which there are many available for free. Many yoga studios offer sessions where a meditation course is offered or you could contact a dedicated meditation school.
Tips on getting started:
Once you have decided on a type of meditation, these tips could be helpful.
- If you find yourself constantly thinking, try focusing on your breath to calm yourself down.
- You can meditate anywhere that is comfortable for you - whether it's in nature or at home.
- If you're worried about not having enough time, research has found that even just a few minutes of meditation per day was linked with improved optimism and happiness.
- Don't get discouraged if you feel like your mind is running wild while meditating; it can take a while for this to stop happening.
- There are many meditation books and apps available that will help guide you on how to practice. One such app is called Calm.
Science has found that meditation can have a positive impact on your brain. It is an ancient practice with many benefits - from reducing stress to improving sleep quality. There are various ways you can get started and so it's down to personal preference as well as what would fit in best within your lifestyle. Remember to be patient as these changes take time, the most important thing is just getting started.