Meditation will help you achieve the highest level of mental awareness and focus. Meditation and mindfulness have also been known to relieve stress, manage anxiety, improve memory, as well as increase attention and reduce inflammation. You will enjoy many benefits through meditation, as it will keep you physically and mentally fit. In recent years, doctors of different specialties have suggested meditation to improve focus and to ensure the complete well-being of a person in addition to prescribing medications.
UCLA recently performed a study on the brain function of a few participants by measuring the volume of grey matter in the brain. Grey matter is tissue in the brain that helps regulate speech, hearing, emotions, sight, and memory. The study revealed that individuals who have meditated for months or years have been able to preserve their brain function better than others.
This study revealed the extensive effect of meditation on the human brain, as it affected all the regions.
The Default Mode Network or DMN is a collection of brain regions that give away strong low-frequency oscillations. They become activated when someone focuses on internal mental-state processes, such as introspection, thinking about the future, memory retrieval, or self-referential processing.
Your mind will wander off when the DMN is active and you will think about nothing in particular. The wandering of the brain is often associated with being less happy or with worrying about the past/future. Hence, it is essential to minimize the activity of DMN as much as possible. Meditation has a quiet effect. The more you practice meditation, the more you can prevent your mind from wandering, and the easier it will be to control your thoughts.
Dr. Madhav Goyal of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said that they were observing consistent positive effects in healing anxiety/depression with a little 2.5-hour meditation!
So we can say, meditation can be used to soothe your depression and anxiety which lets your mind be calm and ignore all the chaos.
Mindful meditation is a process of training the mind to improve awareness and concentration. It’s not like you sit down, meditate, and magically it treats or heals your depression/ anxiety. So, it is important to remember that practicing mindfulness is merely a tool to control or relieve or soothe your symptoms.
In 2011, research was performed by Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard which lasted for eight weeks. The objective of this research was to find out if mindfulness meditation can alter a brain’s structure and it was found that meditation can increase the cortical thickness in the brain’s hippocampus region. This area controls the memory and the learning capacity.
The outcome of this research also showed that meditation can strengthen certain areas of the brain that regulate emotions and self-referential processing. Furthermore, meditation was found to reduce the brain-cell volume in the amygdala (a collection of cells near the base of the brain). These cells are responsible for causing fear, stress, and anxiety. The participants of this research also reported noticing improvements in their stress levels.
This research also indicated that meditation changed subjective perception and feelings in addition to changing the brain-function. Sara Lazar also conducted a follow-up study and discovered changes in some areas of the brain that are linked to mood and arousal after meditation training. Thus, meditation can improve the overall psychological well-being of individuals.
You will notice an improvement in focus and concentration through meditation. A short research study was conducted on a group of participants who were taking the Graduate Record Exams (GRE). The participants of this research study were found to have improved focus and memory during the ‘Verbal Reasoning’ measure of GRE and the improvement in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points for some participants.
Meditation has always been believed to improve cognitive skills, as one of the main objectives of meditation is improving attention. This research study supported this belief with scientific data.
In today’s hectic lifestyle, many individuals practice meditation in order to reduce stress. There are numerous research-based data to support this rationale. The MBSR or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is the latest sub-genre of meditation. Jon Kabat-Zinn invented this genre of meditation at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness.
The main objective of MBSR is to reduce the level of physical and psychological stress. The participants of this research were found to enjoy the benefits of MBSR years after the 8 weeks of training. Mindfulness meditation is different from a meditation technique that focuses on breathing. MBSR can effectively reduce stress and anxiety, as the changes are mediated through the brain regions associated with self-referential thoughts. A team of researchers at Stanford University also found out that MBSR helps people with ‘social anxiety disorder.
Meditation influences the self-control regions of the brain. Thus, it has helped people in recovering from various addictions. It was found through a recent research-based study that continued for 17 weeks that people who have learned mindfulness are more likely to quit smoking by the end of training in comparison to those who received conventional treatment. Meditation has helped the participants in decoupling the ‘act of smoking’ from the ‘state of craving’. Hence, the participants were able to avoid smoking despite having cravings and they rode out the urges.
Different types of research-based studies have been carried out over the past few years with regard to the effects of meditation in curing different types of addiction. These studies found that MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) and MBRP (mindfulness-based relapse prevention) are extremely helpful when treating different types of addiction.
Practicing meditation will benefit you physically as well as mentally. Its main objective is to improve focus and attention by preventing the mind from wandering. However, it can also reduce the level of stress and anxiety with equal efficiency and will empower you to get rid of addiction. It is essential to have an expert trainer in order to benefit from meditation.