Day 5 “Science of Meditation (on Brain)” of “Meditation” Chapter
From Remembering Series
[Listen to the audio with guided alignment at the end]
As we understand how our thoughts can change our brain and body from the previous post, hereby, let’s look at some scientific benefits of meditation on our brain and overall.
Humans Wired by Nature, Changeable by Nurture
We all shared the same general body structure – our human body, with the same sensory organs, inherited with the physical, mental and emotional expressions that make us a human race.
Throughout the evolution of our species, as we learned and experienced, we shared some hardwired patterns of neural networks of common thoughts and actions.
At the same time, we can shift, nurture and cultivate ourselves, we can add a new synaptic connections to build new neural nets and prune away unnecessary nerve cells and synaptic connections.
One way is via meditation.
“To “know thyself” is to meditate.”
Scientific Benefits of Meditations
Can meditation change the brain?
Meditation Increases Cortisol Thickness & Shrinks Amygdala
Excerpt From: Joe Dispenza. “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.”
In his book, there is a study from Harvard shows that meditation associated with the increase of cortisol thickness (body’s main stress hormones- built-in alarm system dealing with cognitive functions; cortisol thinning may leads to diseases).
The first experiment with two group of people, the first group is a group of long term meditators and the second group is novices. They tested the first route has a higher auditory sensory cortex, being aware of now rather than the past. On the second experiment, there are two groups of people who are both novices. The first group was assigned to meditate 30 to 40 minutes for 8 weeks while the second group did not meditate.
Results show that the first group’s brain structure and amygdala changes. The function of amygdala is to produce fear and anxiety, the first group amygdala shrinks smaller, means flight-fight mode is less activated, thus lower stress with higher resilience.
Meditation Changes Brain Wave Patterns & Grow New Cells
Excerpt From: Joe Dispenza. “Evolve Your Brain.”
Meditations shown promising results in changing the brain wave patterns and growing new brain cells which are the product of inner mindful attentiveness. Studies show that participants with extensive training in Buddhist Insight meditation increase gray matter (serves to process information in the brain). Most of the participants meditated only 40 minutes a day.
From a study to measure brain wave activity of the Buddhist monks as they were focusing on compassion and unconditional love, their brains became more coordinated in processing mental activity than the brains of a control group. Some monks who meditate up to 50,000 hours displayed frontal lobe activity and overall brain wave activity are connected to higher mental functioning and heightened awareness. They could change the how their brain work as per command.
The results showed frontal lobe activity was dramatically elevated in the monks compared to the control group. In fact, the monks who had meditated the longest showed levels of one kind of electrical brain impulses, called gamma waves, that were higher than researchers had ever seen in a healthy person. These particular brain wave states are typically present when the brain is making new circuits.
The results above are showing the differences between the meditated mind or brain with the non-meditated one.
Meditation Rewires Neural Networks (Neocortex of the Brain)
Nerve cells fire together, wire together. Vice versa.
We started life with inherited neural patterns where some parts of our brain patterns are hardwired in nature, but there are parts which is most malleable, where we can grow new synaptic connections and modify existing neural networks. Regular meditation is a form of self-directed neuroplasticity. With new circuits in the brain, our thoughts and actions are reflected by the modified neural circuits, thus a new more aware mind is created.
In a newly published neurophysiological review, Brown University scientists propose that mindfulness practitioners gain enhanced control over sensory cortical alpha rhythms that help regulate how the brain processes and filters sensations, including pain, and memories such as depressive cognitions. Read more here.
The Other benefits:
Meditation takes us beyond analytical (conscious) mind into the subconscious, where the subconscious mind makes up 95% of who we are. – Dr. Joe Dispenza on “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.”
Meditation takes us from Beta into Alpha and Theta Brain wave states, slowing down to a more systemised pattern. – Dr. Joe Dispenza on his book “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.”
Meditation makes the brain younger. The research team used a specially designed computer program to evaluate the “brain age” of 50 meditators versus 50 non-meditators, it found “experienced meditators have brains that appear 7.5 years younger, on average, than non-meditators,” reports the British Psychological Society Research Digest blog. Read more here.
Meditation improves self regulation over lifetime. Science shows that the longer you do meditation, the brain will be at self regulation mode where it is more easily to be in a relaxed state. Read more here.
The Side Effects of Meditation:
- Reduce stress,
- promotes emotional health,
- improves sleep,
- relaxes our body,
- helps to focus and concentrate
PS: To understand more about the brain, read Dr. Joe’s book “Evolve Your Brain”.
Now, with embodied knowledge, we are prepare for the experience..