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Are you skeptical about the wonders of meditation? Does it seem like a mystery because of its religious origins and spiritual aura? Meditation may seem like just another self-help trend that is going viral.
But, if you think all meditation requires you is to sit cross-legged across a water body and align your chakras, be aware that taking a few deep breaths before a big meeting is also a form of meditation. Many top entrepreneurs have incorporated this practice into their daily lives and swear by its benefits for stress reduction to better concentration.
Meditation doesn’t require only spirituality to sell itself. There is countless scientific research that supports the fact that meditation has real and positive effects on the human brain. The benefits of meditation are so strong that they can actually be seen on brain scans. In fact, a blogger, Alice Walton, wrote a complete article on Forbes on how meditation physically alters your brain.
If you want to learn more about the measurable biological effects of mindfulness meditation, keep reading. Today, we are going to take a look at some of the ways in which meditation can alter your brain for the better:
1. Helps reverse the aging process
If you meditate regularly, research shows that there will be larger amounts of gray matter in your brain’s hippocampus and frontal areas.
You must be wondering what this gray matter is. Well, it is associated with positive emotions, emotional stability, and increased focus throughout the day. Gray matter is also responsible for better cognitive function and executive decision-making.
So, if you assume Alzheimer’s is genetic, and there is no way to way to save yourself from this mental disease as you age, think again. Meditation prevents our cortex from shrinking, thus, making it easier to remember and figure out things. In fact, according to research by a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 50- year olds who meditate had the same amount of gray matter in their brain as 25- year old.
2. Helps manage stress and depression
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, anti-depressants are not the only solution for anxiety, pain, and depression. Mindfulness meditation can be as effective as medication.
Meditation is an active brain training exercise that lets you connect with your inner self and helps manage symptoms of depression in a more proactive way. Another research involved three groups of HR managers. One team was given meditation training, another was taking body relaxation sessions and the third was given no training at all. In the final test, the first group which received mindful meditation training excelled at keeping stress levels under control, as compared to the other two groups.
But, it is important to understand that meditation is not a magic bullet that will instantly make you a cheerful person. It requires a lot of patience and consistency to use meditation as a tool that can help you cope with stressful situations in a better way.
3. Increases focus
Concentration problems are prevalent among the young and old alike. Interestingly, meditation helps in improving one’s attention and concentration span. According to research, just a few weeks of meditation training helped in redirecting the lost focus of students who were preparing for the GRE exams. In fact, it helped them achieve better scores.
Since meditation is all about taking control of your focus and directing it towards a certain aim, it is not surprising to see meditators excel in other fields of life too.
4. Helps in overcoming addiction
As discussed in the point above, meditation requires you to be in control of various regions of the brain. This is why it can be very effective for people who are battling addiction problems. In fact, research proves meditation to be helpful for people who are trying to quit smoking. Another study by the American Lung Association found out that people who learned to control their cravings through meditation were more likely to quit smoking as compared to their counterparts.
Mindful meditation makes it easy for people to manage their cravings and enables them to ride out the immense desire until it passes away successfully.
If you think that meditation cannot be incorporated into your busy schedule, you need to rethink. According to research, simple meditation can have visible effects on your brain within a short time span of only eight weeks.
Meditation is just like exercise for the brain. Much like daily physical exercise, it promotes mental health, helps in handling stress, and promotes longevity. But, it is not a standalone tool to cure everything. If you are consistent in your efforts and take care of your body, mind, and soul simultaneously, you will notice a profound change in yourself.
How has mindfulness and meditation helped you become a better version of yourself? Leave your comments below and enlighten us.