Meditation and the brain and knowing the impact this practice has, not just on the brain, but also the body is what keeps me doing it every day.
Fortunately, there are many studies on the brain and the effect meditating has, it is hard not to want to make this a daily practice.
In fact, once you realise what the advantages are I am sure you will pull out that cushion for a cross-legged session. If sitting on the floor with your legs crossed doesn’t appeal, just do what I do and sit in a comfy chair.
For many, the usual complaint is there is not enough time in the day. However, once you get over that belief and make the change, you will forever thank yourself.
To break the monotony of your day-to-day reality, become familiar with meditation and the brain. Therefore, you are fully ready to make the changes in your life you want to make
There are so many great reasons for your health and state of mind when you meditate. That to not do it, leaves many people living life in a continual ‘Groundhog Day’. This is a life where events and situations are continually repeated.
When you sit in silence and meditate you will begin to feel the effects around the 8-week mark of practice.
We are very familiar with the external happenings of the body as it ages, yet we are not very well acquainted with what is going on inside the body.
Meditation And The Brain
Studies show the connections between brain cells is strengthened and gray matter enhanced.
Gray matter is a constant fascination when it comes to meditation and the brain.
This part of the brain, gray matter is greatly increased with meditation (1). The more gray matter you have, the better able you are to store information. Improve your attention span, and have more control over your emotions, as well as being more mindful.
Something you may not be aware of is gray matter in the brain decreases with aging, along with everything else.
Not only does gray matter shrink, the brain itself shrinks and usually starts around the age of 20 and continues to shrink until the age of 90. Overall, it will shrink by 5 to 10% (2).
A shrinking brain can cause dementia and memory loss in some people. Continual stress and anxiety will only add to brain shrinkage.
This is where meditation can help. Over time you increase the size of the brain it actually becomes thicker and gray matter expanded.
Studies show when meditating there is an increase in the hippocampus part of the brain. This area is responsible for memory, vision, learning, and emotions.
We have a default mode network (DMN) in the brain (4). It is the part of the brain you use when your mind is wandering and not focused on anything in particular. The default mode network will decrease with meditation.
You will find yourself more easily able to catch wandering, repetitive thoughts and stop them from taking you on an emotional journey.
Meditation And The Brain Crossing Legs
The usual position for many to meditate is to sit down and cross their legs into the lotus position (5). Or crossing the legs in the usual cross-legged manner that we all did as children growing up when sitting on the floor.
I find both of these two positions uncomfortable and not necessary. For me, I sit in a comfy chair and cross my legs over at the ankles.
The reason for crossing the legs is so you can engage both sides of the brain. The right and the left side then work together (6).
For example, the right hand and leg are controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain. The left arm and leg are controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain. Consequently, when you cross your legs during meditation you are causing the right and left sides of the brain to work in harmony.
When sitting on a chair, I feel it is an important part of the practice to cross the legs at the ankles. And get both sides of the brain working together and give you an enhanced experience.
Meditation And Changes In The Body
Cortisol is a steroid hormone in the body will also balance out and create more feelings of joy.
Too much cortisol or too little cortisol in the body can and does cause unwanted weight gain, irregular periods, constantly feeling tired, and thin skin.
There is quite a lot of research today on meditation and the brain and the effects it has on cortisol levels in the body. Findings show when meditating cortisol levels drop and there is a decrease in stress, depression, and some diseases (7).
Another great aspect of this amazing practice is the fact it can help improve your circulation. If you suffer from varicose or spider veins, you will find in time, these veins fading. Add meditating along with practicing yoga and these veins should disappear completely.
If meditating is something you have been thinking about, and yet to try, I hope I have enlightened you a little more about this invaluable practice. Once you do begin, keep at it, don’t give up, make it a part of your daily life. Make a commitment to yourself, do more research on meditation and the brain and enjoy the journey.
Once you do begin, keep at it, don’t give up, make it a part of your daily life. Make a commitment to yourself, do more research on meditation and the brain and enjoy the journey.