Meditation has shown to be an effective tool to better understand ourselves and allows us to reach clarity like we have never experienced before. Meditation allows us to focus our mind on a specific topic, thought, or activity to achieve a mentally and emotionally clear and calm state. It allows us to become more alert and mindful of our surroundings, and can even reduce stress and pain. Additionally, meditation has demonstrated that it can have a positive effect on our overall psychological well-being and produce incredible changes in our brain.
Preservation of the Brain
In a study conducted at UCLA, it was found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than those that did not meditate. Meditators that had been practicing for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain than those that did not meditate. While younger meditators had more grey matter than older meditators, both were observed to have seen a profound impact from meditation throughout the entire brain.
Mind-wandering throughout the day has been associated with unhappiness, worry, and rumination, and many would like to tone it down. Mindful meditation has been shown to decrease the activity in the default mode network, otherwise known as DMN, the part of the brain responsible for mind-wandering. Even when the mind starts to wander, meditators are better able to snap out of it, since they have begun the process of forming new connections within the brain.
Mindful meditation can assist in managing depression, anxiety, and pain. Since meditation is essentially a brain-training exercise, different programs allow meditators to increase awareness and train the brain. While it is by no means a cure-all for depression and anxiety, it is a tool that helps train the brain to combat and reduce the symptoms.
A Harvard study found that mindful meditation can physically change the structure of the brain. There was an increase of cortical thickness in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls learning and memory, and other areas of the brain that play a part in the regulation of emotions and processing references to oneself. Additionally, there were decreases in the brains cell volume of the amygdala, the area responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress.
Concentration and Attention Increases
Since the central aim of meditation is a strong focus, it should come as no surprise that meditation increases concentration and attention. Just a few weeks of meditation training can increase focus and memory and can help cognitive skills on the job.