World Meditation Day: 5 benefits of meditation for the brain

Meditation is a powerful skill. A mental exercise, it helps you 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, several studies around the world have looked at various ways that meditation affects brain function.

Benefits of meditation for the brain

As it happens, meditation can have a positive effect on areas of the brain that drive memory, attention, learning, and self-awareness. On World Meditation Day, let’s take a look at 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. In a 2013 randomized investigation, the effect of a 2-week mindfulness meditation training course was examined. The result showed an improvement in the subjects’ GRE reading comprehension scores as well as their memory power. Meditation was essentially found to help control the mind from distractions.

2. Delays brain aging

Research says that a person’s brain begins to deteriorate in volume and weight in their mid-20s. These changes can trigger functional problems or an increased risk of neurodegenerative problems. Meditation has been found to have a positive effect on brain well-being. A 2015 study cited in the journal Frontiers in Psychology looked at brain-related atrophy and the impact of meditation. He found that age-related loss of gray matter was less pronounced in meditators.

Meditation can improve brain function and power, studies say. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Meditation can affect the structure of the brain

Believe it or not, researchers have investigated how meditation can alter the structure of the brain. A 2011 study led by Harvard researchers 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 problems related to learning and memory, as well as emotional control.

This research on the benefits of meditation for the brain also found a decrease in the volume of brain cells in the amygdala, which regulates feelings such as fear, anxiety and stress.

4. Meditation leads to stress reduction

Ask those who practice it and they will tell you. Meditation brings a sense of calm and inner peace into their lives. Several studies have looked at the stress reduction benefits of meditation for students and professionals. According to a randomized study from the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in 2016, mindfulness-based techniques, including meditation, can reduce stress levels in a workspace.

A 2019 study conducted on students before their final exams also found reduced levels of stress and anxiety after a six-week yoga and meditation program. The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education cites the study, which states that even engaging in a mindful activity once a week can improve stress levels in students.

If you’re looking for natural ways to reduce stress, make meditation a part of your daily lifestyle.

Meditation and stress.
Reduce stress with the help of meditation. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Meditation improves brain function

Regular meditation for a long time can improve brain function in many ways. A 2011 study by researchers at Yale University reviewed a group of experienced meditators. They noted a reduction in activity in areas related to attention lapses, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, and more.

These are just some of the benefits of meditation for the brain and reason enough why you might try this mindfulness technique in your life.

Also read: The brain matters: 7 tips to improve your memory naturally

Tips for practicing 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 night for 15-30 minutes daily.
* It is best to meditate on an empty stomach.
* Lie down and rest for about 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,’ it will diminish the benefits of meditation and may cause pressure in your head or even a headache. The key to meditating is to do nothing,” says Narang.

Tips to meditate
Meditation benefits the mind and body Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

start today. Do you wonder how to meditate? Well here is how!

1. Sit comfortably and quietly
2. Close your eyes
3. Relax the muscles, starting with the feet, calves and thighs.
4. Now shrug your shoulders in a relaxing manner and slowly rotate your head and neck.
5. Then sit quietly with your eyes closed.

You can also check out this beginner’s guide to meditation!

This will be just the beginning. Once you are used to the experience of listening to your own breath and focusing on your inner peace, begin to include music in your meditation practice.

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