Meditation is a powerful skill. A mental exercise, it helps you to relax the mind and increase focus, attention and awareness. While the mental health benefits of meditation range from stress reduction to anxiety management, did you know that meditation also has neurological benefits? Yes, various studies across the world have looked into various ways that meditation impacts brain function.
Benefits of meditation for brain
As it happens, meditation can have a positive effect on areas of the brain which drive memory, attention, learning and self-awareness. On World Meditation Day, let us get a sneak peek into some of the effects of meditation on the brain.
1. Meditation improves concentration and attention
If you have a mind that wanders too often, try meditating for a few minutes every day. A 2013 randomized invesitation, the effect of a 2-week mindfulness meditation training course was examined. The result showed improvement in GRE reading comprehension scores of the subjects, as well as their mempry capacity. Meditation was essentially found to help control the mind from distractions.
2. Slows down brain ageing
Research says that a person’s brain begins to deteriorate in volume and weight in the mid-20s. These changes can trigger the onset to functional problems or an increase in the risk of neurogenerative issues. Meditation has found to have a positive effect on cerebral well-being. A 2015 study cited in the Frontiers in Psychology journal, looked into brain-related atrophy and the impact of meditation. It found that age-related gray matter loss was less pronounced in meditators.
3. Meditation can impact brain structure
Believe it or not, but researchers have looked into how meditation can alter brain structure. A 2011 study led by researchers from Harvard reviewed how Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) impacted the brain. It was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which has a key role to play in learning and memory-related issues, as well as emotional control.
This research on the benefits of meditation for brain also deduced a decrease in brain cell volume in amygdala, which regulates feelings such as fear, anxiety, and stress.
4. Meditation leads to stress reduction
Ask those who practice it and they can tell. Meditation brings a sense of calm and inner peace to their lives. Various studies have looked into the benefits of meditation for stress reduction for students and professionals. According to a randomized study at the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic in 2016, mindfulness-based techniques, including meditation, can reduce stress levels in a workspace.
A 2019 study conducted on students before their final examinations also found reduced stress and anxiety levels after a six-week yoga and meditation program. The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education cites the study, which claims that even indulging in a mindfulness activity once a week may improve stress levels in students.
If you are looking for natural ways to reduce stress, make meditation a part of your daily lifestyle.
5. Meditation improves brain function
Regular meditation for a long time can improve brain function in many ways. A 2011 study by Yale University researchers reviewed a group of experienced meditators. They noticed a reduction in activity in areas linked to attention lapses, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia and more.
These are just some of the benefits of meditation for brain, and reason enough why you could try this mindfulness technique in your life.
Also read: Brain matters: 7 tips to improve your memory naturally
Tips to practise meditation
Yoga practitioner Shynee Narang believes in the power of meditation for self-care. Here are some meditation tips that she shared on her Instagram page.
* Meditate every morning and every evening for 15-30 minutes daily.
* It is best to meditate on an empty stomach.
* Lie down and rest for around 5 minutes after meditating.
* Avoid looking for experiences or signs of progress or failure with your meditation
* Remember that reaping the benefits of meditation takes time and consistency.
“When you ‘try to make meditation happen’, that will diminish the benefits of meditating, and it can cause pressure in your head or even a headache. The key to meditating is to do nothing,” says Narang.
Make a start today. Wondering how to meditate? Well, here’s how!
1. Sit comfortably and quietly
2. Close your eyes
3. Relaxing your muscles, starting with your feet, calves and thighs.
4. Now give your shoulders a relaxing shrug and roll your head and neck around slowly.
5. Then sit quietly with your eyes closed.
You can also check out this beginner’s guide to meditation!
This will just be the beginning. Once you’re used to the experience of hearing your own breath and concentrating on your inner peace, start bringing in music to your meditation practice.