For many people, they seek out meditation based the desire to relax, calm their brain and help to de-stress after having a bad day.
In other words, to experience the temporary benefit of peace of mind, relaxation and taking some time to slow down a busy mind.
Yet for others who meditate regularly, they find some pretty major improvements in their lives throughout the day – not just when they are meditating.
Improvements in lowering stress, lower blood pressure, more controlled blood sugar levels, their ability to control anger, to reduce deptression, help manage addictions, boost their immune system and more.
In fact, I was one of those people who used to see meditation as some fringe spiritual practice, then evolved to curiousity but not being able to really get in the proper zone right through to feeling the amazing advantages – calmness, happiness, improved health (literally overcoming a non-functioning digestive system).
In fact, the blueprint in Attracting Greatness shares tips on how to properly use meditation as one of 5 Pillars on your road to personal and financial success.
Finally, we now see science catching up with what many of us have known for decades (and others for centuries) – that meditation does work and that 20-minutes of meditation twice daily can have major, lasting impacts on the brain.
Neurosocience research (study of the brain including mapping out electrical functioning of the brain) has over and over again proven that not only does the practice of meditation alter
Studies like this one have linked brain function during times of meditation.
In this recent study done in Boston – researches found that 8-weeks of meditation led to actual structural changes in the brain.
In other words, there were measurable changes in the structure/size of the brain regions that directly resulted from 1-2 20-minute/day meditation sessions.
So we finally have proof that lasting change in brain function can be directly controlled by meditation.
So what regions of the brain did meditation impact?
- sense of self
I was especially pleased to see that the meditation tested was "mindfulness meditation" which simply means meditation where you focus on nonjudgemental awareness.
For most people, meditation is extremely challenging, it took me years to get it down only because I was trying too hard.
With mindfulness meditation, you simply focus on one stimuli (a sound of waves crashing, looking at a spot on the wall, closing your eyes and focusing on one image, etc…) and simply allow your thoughts to flow each time nonjudementally bringing them back to the single stimuli.
Using this approach, you are aware of these other thoughts racing through your mind, but you do not judge them – it is as if they belong to someone else and so you accept them and move back to your single focus stimuli – within minutes (sometimes it takes up to 15 minutes) you find yourself in a deep state of mindful meditation – without really trying that hard.
What is really important here are the impacts on literally "growing" your brain power in each of these areas:
1. Memory: Imagine being sharper, having access to more past memories – even recovering from age and disease related memory challenges just with 8-weeks of meditation? I find that incredibly exciting!
2. Sense of Self: This is so important…to a very large extent in life our self-confidence, purpose in life, link to what truly makes us happy and success itself is related highly to having a good sense of our self. Likewise many of our fears, insecurities and anxieties come from doubting ourselves. A huge advantage of meditation is the peacefulness, happiness and confidence that comes from a better sense of self.
3. Empathy: Our relationships, understanding of other people and ability to persuade and influence others has in large part to do with empathy. Some people just have a knack for knowing what other people are feeling, for those that do not it is powerful to know that we can now improve our empathy through meditation.
4. Stress: Ok, this is a big one. So much of our health, happiness and mere survival depends on us managing stress yet so many of us are WAY out of whack today. A good deal of stress is in response to our own thoughts about situations. For years one of the biggest advantages people claimed from consistent maeditation was an increased ability to see things as they are instead of as we fear them to turn out. Phobias, fears, anxieties, frustrations all largely melt away when we see things more objectively – can you imagine that things like public speaking, risk taking, social situations or other limitations for you now could be gone in as little as 8-weeks?
For those of us who regularly practice meditation and experienced the "magic" of lasting effects, this study comes as no surprise, but it is great to see some scientific support for what we have known all along.
Do you meditate? What have the effects been for you?