How meditation can boost brain power in eight weeks.
Scientists have known for a few years that people who meditate have different brain structures from the rest of us. What hasn’t been proven is that it’s actually the meditation that affects our grey matter. Now a landmark study has not only shown that there’s a direct connection, but that meditation can change our brains for the better in just eight weeks – even if we’ve never done it before.
In a study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging earlier this year, US researchers measured the brains of 16 people who had never meditated before, and then did so again after the group had completed an eight-week meditation program. During that time, the group spent an average of 27 minutes a day practicing mindfulness meditation, a particular style of meditation which focuses on non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and states of mind.
After the program, tests done on the group found there was increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning and memory, and in other brain structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. There was also a reduction in size of the amygdala, the part of the brain which controls anxiety and stress.
In other words, the silent practice of meditation changes the structure of our brains, boosting the areas that help us focus, remember things and be self-aware, while reducing the areas that can make us feel anxious and stressed.
US-based meditation master Thom Knoles, who is visiting Australia this month, says this research proves what long-term mediators have known for thousands of years.
“Practicing meditation helps us see things clearly, have a stronger sense of self and puts the stresses in our lives into proper perspective,” he says.
“Research indicates the effects of meditation are not just that the brain is growing more grey matter, but that the brain is learning how to repair itself organically. It would not be out of the question to assume that the brain is actually regenerating brain cells.”
We know a good workout can help the body. But what about your brain?
A group of UCLA researchers claim meditation may be the key. They used high-resolution MRI to scan the brains of people who meditate.
In a study published in the journal NeuroImage, the researchers report that certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group.
Meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus — all regions known for regulating emotions.
“We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior,” said Eileen Luders, lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Physorg.com reported. “The observed differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue why mediators have these exceptional abilities.”
Research has confirmed the beneficial aspects of meditation. In addition to having better focus and control over their emotions, many people who meditate regularly have reduced levels of stress and bolstered immune systems. But less is known about the link between meditation and brain structure.
This remarkable state of consciousness can dramatically enhance your mind’s performance and tap into your infinite potential. As you listen, your brain wave activity will become more coherent and organized, you’ll feel relaxed yet lucid.
Brainwave technology is used in the videos below.
Greater brain power
Meditation quietens the mind and generates feelings of relaxation. The brain then sends signals of blissfulness to the entire body, which then reorganises itself into a restful and stress-free state.
Knoles says each one of us has the same brain capacity. The question is: what are we training our brain to do?
“Instead of having brain matter generated through states of stress, meditation provides the brain with blissful experiences that increase the capability in every area,” he says. “What we see is people become more creative, increasing their learning ability and intelligence, and taking on a larger life perspective. Meditation is not just a psychological or mood-enhancing tool but a way to grow and access more brain power.”