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How does meditation impact brain plasticity?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

Brain plasticity teaches us that the brain is constantly evolving. 70% of our brain cells change every day. Meditation changes the brain in many ways.

1. Meditation promotes higher order thinking through reduced stress and greater positive emotions.

Meditation helps us to experience positive emotions and a sense of well-being and joy. This helps to counter the impact of stress and fatigue. When the brain is under stress, it “downsizes itself to a primitive mode”. In this mode, higher order thinking and cognitive ability is adversely affected.

In this insightful video, Dr Fred Travis explains what happens to the brain when someone practices the Transcendental Meditation technique. It is an engaging video with live brain scans of a participant as he is meditating.

The main gist of the video is:

  • The brain is a river and not a rock. It is not frozen in time, but changes constantly. The brain not only generates experience but also each experience we have changes the brain.
  • The quality of the functioning of your brain determines the quality of the functioning of your mind.
    If you want a creative mind you need a creative brain. If you want a calm and alert mind you need a restful and alert brain.
  • When the brain is under stress and fatigue, it downsizes to more primitive mode. As a result, higher order thinking is adversely affected.
  • You can improve holistic brain function through the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

2. Meditation helps to grow bigger brains.

Researchers have found that experienced meditators had increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input. Can meditation be used as a way to be retain brain fitness and reverse the effects of aging? Definitely!

Sara Lazaar has found in her study that meditation increases brain thickness and reduces age-related thinning of the brain. See Sara Lazaar’s report on Meditation and Plasticity.

3. Meditation helps preserve brain cognition and function and prevent dementia

A study in University of California has shown that meditation may affect multiple pathways that could play a role in brain aging and mental fitness.

Meditation may also potentially have beneficial effects on lipid profiles and lower oxidative stress, both of which could in turn reduce the risk for cerebrovascular disease and age-related neuro-degeneration. Further, meditation may potentially strengthen neuronal circuits and enhance cognitive reserve capacity.

Every thought and every experience leaves an impact on the brain. And repetitive thoughts and experiences leaves a lasting impression on the brain. And yes, a little meditation done consistently makes a huge difference to our brains.

How does meditation impact brain plasticity? is a post from: Brain Training For All

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