What Meditation is Really Doing to Your Brain: Meditation Brain

August 09, 2018

What Meditation is Really Doing to Your Brain: Meditation Brain

A consistent meditation practice can strengthen our capacity for compassion and allow us to experience more happiness.

Many people think of meditation as just a spiritual experience, but did you know that meditation can restructure the brain and change the way we respond to experiences on a neurological level?

If there are ways of thinking that aren’t serving us, meditating may be the key to letting that go.

Meditation can sound “woo-woo” at times, but there have been many scientific studies that have shown that those who meditate regularly have neurological changes happening within the brain which brings a clearer perspective on life.

Even if you are not into meditation as a spiritual practice, you can still use it to tap into more profound potential in the here and now.

Outdoor Meditation

Understanding what is happening in the mind when we meditate is beneficial in helping us stay motivated to show up for our practice.
According to Britta Holzel, a researcher at Harvard University, “by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”

What happens when we meditate?

Meditation allows us to slow down our brain activity by dropping into the present moment. When this happens, we can notice what is present in our body and mind, and choose how we want to respond to what we are experiencing.

This process of slowing down prevents us from reacting as if we are going through life on autopilot, without thought or awareness. This autopilot response is the brain’s default mode that it falls into when processing emotional stimuli.

A study from Washington State University, however, found that this default mode was not being accessed as frequently by those who practiced meditation regularly.

Because meditation teaches the mind to open to what it is experiencing rather than to stick with preconceived notions about a particular experience, it creates space for different responses to occur.

Outdoor meditation

A 2012 study found that a daily meditation practice helps decrease the common overuse of the amygdala (the area of the brain associated with the fear response). This reduced fear response was present even when the participants of the study were not in a meditative state, showing that a meditation practice does leave lasting change within the brain.

This lasting change is due to neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s incredible capacity to create new neurological pathways as a result of different actions and habits we take.

Meditation is a workout for the brain.

Meditation for the brain

Meditation is training for the brain to keep it functioning well. Just like we have to work to maintain the good habits we want in our daily routines, we have to continually show up to a meditation practice if we are going to reap the benefits for our brains.

Since we have been using specific neurological pathways for much of our lives, it does takes consistency and a commitment to the practice to dig new trails.

 

Outdoor meditation
The good news is that even though a consistent practice is required, studies have shown that in as little as eight weeks there is more grey matter present in the areas of the brain associated with emotional management and mental resilience in those who meditate regularly.
Meditation while laying down

If you are not a meditator, we know the idea may sound intimidating, but we believe anyone can meditate, and there is no better time to start than now!

We have created these resources for your meditation journey:

5 Meditation Tips To Invite in The Zen

1 Minute Meditation - Simple Breath

Sign up here to receive the free guided meditation we made just for you!

MamaRoo Yoga Meditation

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