Have you ever wondered why so many people swear to meditation, claiming that it improves both mental and physical well-being? Well, if you have a look inside a monk’s brain you find some of the answers.
Neuro-scientific research on meditation has seen a huge increase over the last 10 years, showing compelling evidence for why meditation is in fact good for you. After only 10 hours of meditation practice your brain’s activity levels already start to change. Then consider doing an 8 week training course, or better, meditate for the rest of your life.
Our brains are flexible and change according to the experiences we have. Meditation changes the brain on a general level, with increased gamma activity, an activity level particularly associated with focused attention. But changes are also seen in areas related to emotional control and pain control. These include an increase in the response of the pre-frontal cortex and a reduction in the amygdale response, as well as heightened activity on the left side of the brain, the “rational brain”. Meditation also decreases activity in the areas of the brain associated with negative thought patterns and increases the activity in areas of the brain associated with sensory experiences, self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
Together these changes in brain activity help create a less reactive and a more flexible and stable mind. It helps your mind stay focused and to deal more effectively with intrusive thoughts and emotions. If that’s not enough, it also prevents the brain from thinning, an otherwise natural occurrence in the brain as we get older. And, it improves the immune system, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, asthma and allergies.
So no question about it, meditation can improve your life on many levels. The only thing it takes is a bit of willpower and a decently comfortable cushion…