Mindfulness meditation can change the brain's structure and function for the better and improve overall physical and mental health.
Meditation may help increase larger amounts of gray matter in the hippocampus and cortical thickness in frontal areas of the brain.
More gray matter can lead to more positive emotions, increased focus during daily life and longer-lasting emotional stability.
|Meditation and neuroscience: Mindfulness meditation can change the brain's structure and function.|
How Does Meditation Affect Your Brain and Mental State?
Meditation in Psychology
Meditation is a very beneficial spiritual physical exercise for training attention and awareness and achieving a mentally healthy and clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
Meditation has been known for thousands of years among different peoples, and that it was by beginning an essential deep part of religions or ritual monotheistic and sacred metaphysics and a purely spiritual way, but over time it turned into a kind of relaxation intended to relieve the stress of life and get rid of urgent individual pressures.
Meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques that have been shown to help people perform under pressure while feeling less stressed. It has become a form of complementary medicine and positive psychology because of its benefits that are reflected in both the brain and the body alike.
Many studies and research on the brain and its neurons have concluded that many parts of the brain responsible for regulating emotions, thinking, making decisions and solving problems can be positively affected by different meditation practices.
Meditation or yoga has become today one of the basics of developing physical sports in general and developing physical exercises in China and India in particular.
Meditation has many benefits for the body and the soul, which is a way to communicate with oneself transparently.
The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are not limited to the body and brain, but also include the spiritual level of individuals, as it works to train them on positive spiritual feelings such as empathy and tolerance.
How Does Meditation Affect Our Brain and Mind?
Mindfulness meditation can alter the structure and function of the brain and improve overall physical and mental health.
Meditation may help increase more amounts of gray matter in the hippocampus (a brain structure embedded deep in the temporal lobe of each cerebral cortex). More gray matter can lead to more positive feelings and emotions and increased focus during daily life and emotional stability for a longer period.
Mindfulness meditation takes a large part in the fields of neurological and psychological research in recent years. But what exactly happens in the brain during meditation?
Several studies of individuals have shown that areas of the brain that play a large role in attention, focus, emotion, and mental and cognitive processes are affected in a positive way at various stages of meditation, one of which indicated that meditation activates nerve cells in the brain stem that may participate in the regulation of breathing and heartbeat.
The nerve cells are directly related to the locus coeruleus - a nucleus in the pons of the brainstem that plays a functional role in relation to stress and panic.
Controlling that part and its activity through meditation techniques and contemplative practices can lead to a lower level of psychological stress and, consequently, to better emotional and mental health.
The same study confirmed that understanding how the brain controls breathing can also help develop new therapeutic goals for treating mental conditions such as anxiety, panic disorders, and various sleep disorders such as insomnia.
In another study, in 2011, Sara W. Lazar and her research team used an MRI device to study the differences in the amount of gray matter (a type of tissue that contains most of the brain's neuronal cell bodies) within the brains of several participants with a targeted project to study the effects of meditation.
In an experiment that contained two teams, one of which practiced daily meditation for eight weeks, and the other was aimed at observing only, the research team concluded that the density of gray matter in the hippocampus region increased.
It is known that the hippocampus is responsible for self-awareness, empathy, learning, memory and control of some different emotions.
The density of the gray matter in the amygdala region, which plays a major role in fear, stress and anxiety, has decreased significantly.
These changes may explain why mental meditation has become so effective in getting rid of stress and anxiety today.
On the other hand, soon, the study found that the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, had decreased significantly in the bodies of the participants, who continued to meditate throughout the study period.
The research group later found that meditation reduces the symptoms of bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, which are also mainly due to the increased density of gray matter that plays a role in psychological well-being, thus relieving the symptoms of these disorders.
Meditation, yoga, and other mental practices are not just a silent sitting process in which the muscles of the body are relaxed, but rather a state of simultaneous attention and a deep presence of consciousness and mind.
Therefore, it should be noted that the practice of meditation is not for a specific purpose or goal, and this makes it difficult to be convinced of the usefulness of its practice for many people.
The purpose of meditation is more general and broader than to be confined to one goal or to have a magical effect that changes the whole life of the individual. Rather, it is intended to provide the mind with awareness and attention that enables us to surround the senses, things, and events and thus discover the links and relationships between them.