Meditation and the impact on the brain is relatively a newer concept receiving massive attention by medical experts.
The concept of neuroplasticity is gaining special interest from scientists, neurologists, and mental health providers worldwide for all the right reasons. It gives us the hope that the brain holds the immense power to heal itself from the emotional and mental damage by a series of unlearning, learning, and re-learning values and beliefs. What you get as a result is an awakened sense of mental sobriety, which lets you practice new attitudes and actions that add to the overall value of your life.
There are many ways through which you can bring positive changes to your brain and help yourself get a better life. Meditation is one of them; it is the guided tool for mindfulness that encourages deep connectivity of our brain and body.
Meditation changes your brain in a variety of ways, let us see how.
What Does Meditation Do to Your Brain?
Meditation comes with ever-amazing benefits for the brain. It helps in forming new neural pathways in the brain. As scientists begin to learn and explore the different ways meditation changes the brain, we can identify how it plays a vital role in neuroplasticity.
So, let’s get to the point:
Hippocampus – Improved Learning & Cognitive Skills
Meditation impacts the left hippocampus of our brain, which is vital for learning. Our cognitive skills and memory are pretty much dependent on this part. What’s more, emotional regulators are also linked with empathy and self-awareness.
It is true that meditation helps to grow the cortical thickness of the hippocampus volume-wise. The grey-matter density increases, which paves the way for an improvement in all the functions controlled by the hippocampus we have talked about.
The Cingulate – Improves Focus
The posterior cingulate is related to self-relevance and wandering thoughts which essentially means the referral and subjectivity to oneself in terms of processing information. The stronger this portion is, the less your brain wanders and the more realistic it is with its sense of self.
We know that mediation helps us stay present in the moment with no judgment or a biased feeling. We also acknowledge that meditation allows us to observe our emotions without placing pressure on us to identify ourselves with them. Well, this is good news for all the meditation people out there as it appears to improve the density of the mind’s posterior cingulate portion.
Pons –Better Regulation Of Brain’s Activity
This part of the brain contains many neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of the brain's activity. It is present in the center of the brain stem, and it acts as a bridge of the whole part. Involved in various functions such as facial expressions, sleep, physical functioning, and sensory processing unit, it is amongst the essential components of the brain.
It is believed that meditation helps in strengthening the pons. Take emotional regulation, an essential function of the pons, for instance. When we practice meditation, we are doing our best to regulate our emotions without any judgments, fear, or anticipation involved.
TPJ – Temporo Parietal Junction
Empathy and compassion are linked with the temporoparietal junction or TPJ of the brain. Our sense of perspective is also associated with this link. The TPJ gets more active when we consider placing ourselves in someone else’s place, for instance.
A stronger portion in combination with other advantages of meditation such as decreased stress and increased awareness is beneficial for improving our sense of empathy and compassion.
Another portion of the mind is influenced through meditation – the amygdala. However, it does not get any larger in size; instead, it shrinks. This portion is responsible for producing feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety and is, in fact, physically smaller in people who practice meditation regularly.
For the remaining of us, even a two-month practice on meditation and mindfulness can help us reduce the size of our amygdala to a significant degree. Our flight or fight response gets pretty much leveled down as soon as this happens – no wonder we feel so relaxed when we incorporate a meditation regimen in our lives.
Meditation and its Benefits – Changing How your Brain Works
As you begin to see the whole picture, you come to know that meditation plays a profound role in helping you build a more positive mindset – a vital factor in the brain change game.
Deep breathing – When you do deep breathing through meditation, there is an increase in the supply of oxygen which helps in the regeneration of brain cells. This improves the overall form of the brain, which ultimately implies a better function.
Seeing from within – You become more aware of your inner thoughts and emotions as you practice mindfulness meditation. This helps you understand the negative patterns of your brain and help you get a better map of what needs to be changed and how you are going to change it.
Regulating thoughts – Instead of letting your thoughts control your emotions, you take charge. Meditation lets you have the steering wheel using which you can see your thoughts with no added judgment. You see them with a neutral observation and put your focus on the present. This helps you rewire your negative thought pattern, making way for better beliefs and values to replace them as you let them.
Connecting the Body and the Mind – When your body and mind are well-connected with each other, your mental and physical health improves side by side. Your mind is aware of what your body needs for nourishment and healing, and vice versa. This helps you follow a positive route for change in the best way possible.
What’s More to Know?
We have just started to unveil the role of meditation in the neuroplasticity of the brain. Decreasing neural noises, integrating productive thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole lot that future scientists and meditation enthusiasts are willing to know about the impacts meditation has on the brain. But for now, it is essential to relish the highly excellent benefits of it as we practice it on a long-term basis.