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How Meditation Rewires The Brain

By Ethan Nelson August 18, 2017 3 min read

How Meditation Rewires The Brain

Do you seem to be continually thinking about the past or the future, never able to be fully present? You may have read that meditation brings fantastic benefits, but you don't entirely buy it.

How could sitting and doing nothing have all these amazing benefits (Understanding Meditation For Beginners)? It's often hard to tell fact from fiction the deeper you get into spiritual traditions such as meditation.

Good news, now you don't have to! Numerous scientific research articles are now proving the benefits of sitting down and calming your mind, aka meditation.

So much so, that they're arguing it rewires the very structure of our brain. 

study done by Harvard affiliated researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital proved that after eight weeks of mindfulness meditation participants saw measurable changes in brain regions associated with stress, empathy, memory, and sense of self.

How Meditation Rewires The Brain

Increased grey matter in the hippocampus

After the eight weeks of mindfulness meditation, the amount of grey matter within the hippocampus was seen to have risen. The hippocampus is the region of the brain associated with learning and memory.

Decreased amygdala size

Studies have shown that the amygdala, the region of the brain associated with anxiety and stress, reduced in volume in people that meditated.

Increased grey matter in the prefrontal cortex

Grey matter was also seen to accumulate in areas such as the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with problem-solving and emotional control.

After the study, Britta Hölzel noted “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practising meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,”

Here's a summary of the study written by the Harvard Gazette.

What Else Can Meditation Do?

Increased creativity

Now that you know that meditation changes the grey matter in your brain, what benefits can this bring?

A study from Butler University showed the correlation between meditation and creativity more specifically, how mindfulness meditation promotes divergent thinking, which is associated with creativity.

Divergent thinking is roughly defined as, a cognitive process in which a person generates many new, unique, creative ideas. It’s used in thought processes involving brainstorming sessions.

Meditation can make you more creative, which could give you more success in business or just more happiness in general.

Emotional control

Studies have shown that through meditation you may be able to control your emotions better.

As you meditate you develop the ability to merely watch emotions as they pass through your body in a detached, non-judgemental way. Instead of reacting and nurturing strong emotions, meditation allows you to sit back and observe them.

Thus, you can better control your emotions by bringing yourself back to the present moment.

How Can I Apply This Knowledge To Myself?

You might be asking, does all this talk about the amygdala and hippocampus directly help me out in any way?

It sure does! It means that there's real hard evidence about the benefits of meditation. Now you can be assured, knowing that your efforts aren't going to waste.

If you commit to sitting down and meditating, you will see the benefits. My advice, try to create a daily meditation habit and stick to it for as long as you possibly can.

 

Ethan Nelson
Ethan Nelson

Guest blogger Ethan Nelson is a meditation enthusiast who blogs about his experiences and personal findings at www.mindfulyoungman.com helping his readers become more mindful and fulfilled in their lives.



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