It is no secret that meditation can reduce stress, pain, depression, and more.
It is also no secret that meditation also can make changes to our brain!
These changes include:
- Enlarges the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for rational decision-making. Studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter (brain cells) in this region.
- Shrinks the amygdala. The amygdala is a key brain structure known as the emotional or fear center of the brain. Smaller amygdalae found in more mindful people are associated with greater emotional control.
- Thickens the hippocampus. This hippocampus is key for learning and memory. Just a few weeks of mindfulness meditation practice increased the size of this brain region.
- Increases overall grey matter. Grey matter, brain cell bodies important for processing power and linked to intelligence, seem to increase with meditation training.
- Enhances high-amplitude gamma brainwave activity. High-frequency gamma waves correlate with states of heightened awareness and bliss. Long-term meditators have been shown to have more gamma wave activity both before and during meditation.
But what if meditation didn’t do these things?
I would still recommend meditation.
The more we train in meditation, the more degrees of freedom we have! How many of us act reflexively and impulsively, rather than mindfully and considerately?
Ding! A text message. What follows next is the urge to check our phone immediately; despite the fact, our leader, co-worker, client, spouse, or child is talking to us about something important. Even if we don’t pull out our phone to check it, our attention has been ripped away from that moment.
Meditation reminds us of what is most important. It helps us break free of our mini-me, our self-centeredness, and be mindful of others.
Compare meditation to the ability to read. The difference in the quality of life, and life satisfaction, between the individual who can read and the individual who can’t read, is immense! The same can be said of the person who takes ten-minutes per day to meditate and the person who doesn’t.
Here are a few resources for your meditation journey:
- A Free Month of Waking Up
- Effortless Mindfulness (a four-minute-meditation; Book: The Way of Effortless Mindfulness)
- Shift from Head to Heart (a fifteen-minute-meditation; Book: Shift into Freedom)
- The Headless Way (Who Am I?)