Meditation is a mental, emotional, and physical health practice that has been around for centuries if not thousands of years. But what’s the real impact of meditation?
There have been several studies conducted that demonstrate the many health and well-being benefits of meditation for the body and mind of the practitioner. In one study, researchers used MRI scans to study what goes on in the brain during meditation. They discovered that at a certain point during concentrated meditation, the brain stops processing information actively in the way it normally does. The beta waves in the brain began to decrease, showing how the brain effectively slows down and even takes a break from constant activity (thoughts, plans, worries, etc). So what are the actual effects of such a process?
1. Better focus and less distraction
Meditation is all about improved focus and concentration and the ability to move past constant distractions. When you regularly meditate, stronger focus not only happens during a session but generally affects all areas of your life – at work, at home with your family, or listening to conversations with friends. Regular sessions of meditation produce a lasting effect of focus on the individual.
During your meditation sessions, using the Crystal Cove Meditation Pillow will give you just enough height, support, and comfort during your meditation practice that you’ll find it easier to focus on clearing your mind. According to its designers, the pillow allows “the delicate curves of your spine to fall into place for extended periods of comfortable sitting.”
2. Reduced stress levels
Translated another way, meditation puts the mind in a state that is free from agitation, distraction and constant worry. Stress is something that many of us have to deal with on some level, but constant low level stress can lead to problems like shorter attention span, easy agitation, and possibly depression and anxiety disorders. Stress levels are on the rise, as seen by the increasing use of anti-anxiety medication. With meditation, however, you’re able to be focus on the present and push all the worries and clutter from your mind. This will help you manage your emotions better and center your focus, which is a very empowering ability in today’s fast-paced world.
3. An elastic brain
A study from UCLA found that participants with a history of regular meditation practice have better preserved brains as they aged compared to those who don’t meditate. The research also showed that people who have been meditating for an average of 20 years have higher grey matter in their brains. The older the meditator, the more the volume loss of grey matter; but in general non-meditators fared worse.
4. Reduced anxiety
When you engage in regular meditation practice, anxiety levels tend to drop. Basically what’s happening is that the connections between specific neural paths start to loosen. What exactly does that mean? When not in a meditative state, there’s a section of our brains in the prefrontal cortex that’s called the Me Center. It’s the part that processes information about identity and experiences.
Typically, the neural pathways that connect the sensations of fear and worry to the Me Center are very strong. So when you experience something upsetting or frightening, this sets off an intense reaction in your Me Center. Meditation weakens this neural link. The result is that our reactions to sensations that normally stir our Me Centers are no longer as intense. At the same time as this connection loosens, we strengthen the link between our physical sensations and fear with what is called our Assessment Center, which is the part of the brain we use for reasoning. The outcome of meditation is that when we face a seemingly scary, alarming, or threatening situation, we can react from a calmer and more rational place.
5. Increased creativity
Scientists at Leiden University in the Netherlands carried out a research study to determine whether there are changes in creativity levels when linked to either focused-attention or open-monitoring meditation. The researchers discovered that the focused-attention meditators didn’t show many signs of increased creativity levels in the task they were given. However, people who practiced open-monitoring meditation improved in the creative tasks they were assigned. This research study is just one example of how a more open mind can increase your creativity that will benefit your work, hobbies, family time, and personal life.
6. Leads to a healthy lifestyle
Meditation can bring you closer to yourself, to nature, and to the things that are more important in life. With a quieter mind and a more present body, you’ll begin desire things that naturally improves your health and lifestyle. For example, you may find that you now have a stronger inclination to eat fruits and fresh foods, and maybe you’ll start to cut down on your alcohol intake. Some former smokers begin to develop a dislike for the habit and stop it altogether. When you have consistent meditation in your life, you may feel encouraged to drop habits that will potentially harm your body and health, and a desire to fill your body and mind with things that improve your well-being.
About the Author
James Helliwell – an ecology loving peaceful guy with a passion for contemplation and creative content.