Meditation can increase your brain power and improve your health. Here’s how…
Meditation Helps a Stressful Life
Meditation -We all live stressful lives with family and work pulling us from both sides. I am no different. I cope by starting my day with meditation.
For those of you out there that may think that meditation is a bit whoo whoo, imagine driving a Lamborghini (my favorite car so I can use it in this metaphor) from 0 to 80 in 2 seconds.
This is how life usually is. Before you rub the sleep out of your eyes, the kids, spouse, or partner are pulling at you. Texts are pouring in from work. Your brain does not have time to adjust to the onslaught of stimuli.
Making meditation part of your morning ritual helps the Lambo rev up for the day. It’s easier to go from that 0 to 80 when you are already warmed up. It only takes 10 minutes a day.
Meditation Begins with the Brain
For thousands of years, people have practiced meditation for spiritual, emotional, and physical well being. From a scientific perspective, how exactly does meditating affect your body? Does it really do anything?
First, it starts in your control center, your brain. During meditation, brain scans see increased activity in regions directly correlated decreased anxiety and depression, along with increased pain tolerance.
Importantly, The Default Mode Network is activated when one’s mind is at rest and not focusing on the outside world. Surprisingly, it has been found to improve memory, self-awareness, and goal setting.
Meditation Inspires Compassion
Do you want to increase your patience and compassion with friends, family, and coworkers? When scientists compared the brains of Buddist monks to new meditators, they found the region of the brain associated with empathy to be much more pronounced with monks.
With practice, meditation changes your brain waves– and we can measure these frequencies. Meditators have a higher level of Alpha waves which have been shown to reduce negative mood, tension, sadness, and anger.
Meditation Increases your Brain Power
Physically, meditation changes your brain shape and size. Studies found that after 8 weeks of a meditation program, gray matter was more dense in areas associated with learning, memory processing, and emotion regulation. On the other hand, the amygdala which deals with stress, blood pressure, and fear had decreased brain matter.
When we look at the entire body, not only do we see decreased blood pressure, but it can also decrease the variability of your heart rate. This may seem harmful, but it plays a critical part in oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout your body.
If you think you are getting sick, meditators are able to produce a greater number of antibodies and had increased immune function.
Meditation Changes You on a Cellular Level
Your chromosomes have protective complexes called telomeres, which help reduce damage to your DNA and lower cell death. Moreover, a shortened telomere has been linked to several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Amazingly, when cancer survivors completed a meditation program, their bodies showed significant increases in telomere length.
Scientists believe that psychological intervention, particularly reducing stress has a direct effect on the enzyme, telomerase. Telomerase has been shown to counteract shortening by adding DNA to the shortening telomeres.
Meditation Adds to a Healthy Lifestyle but You Might Also Need Medical Advice
Although there are many benefits to meditation, it is not a substitute for any medical advice or a healthy lifestyle. It will not cure cancer. But, just like hitting the gym can increase your muscles and increase your overall health, meditation “works out” your brain and adds health benefits.
Since your brain controls all of you, why not close your eyes and breathe every once in a while.