So meditation helps your brain in a range of ways. Practicing meditation requires focus and the more we practice focusing the easier it becomes, not just in meditation but in everyday life. It also improves your memory. This is because we practice ignoring distractions and ability to focus on the important things.
Meditation has been found to decrease stress and anxiety….. great news right? Whilst meditating we learn not to react to external sensations. This weakens connections between the amygdala (fear centre) and bodily sensations with the area of the prefrontal cortex related to reacting whilst strengthening the connections to the prefrontal cortex area involved with assessment and reasoning.
Another bonus of meditation is an improvement in creativity. Researchers have found that focussed attention meditation increases creativity afterwards. Meditation encourages the brain to disengage from focussing on a solution, or way of thinking that may be blocking creativity. The state of relaxation releases dopamine and the more dopamine in the limbic system, the more creative we can be (possibly oversimplified!!!).
Lastly (for now), meditation improves your compassion, awww. This is due to changes in activation of the amygdala (which processes emotional stimuli), and the temporal parietal junction (which has been associated with empathy). Studies showing people emotional images and disturbing voices found meditators to be more compassionate than non meditators.
So there you have it. The list of benefits to meditation are long and robust. The best thing about it is that it takes no effort, just a little time. There is no such thing as ‘bad meditating’ even if you aren’t particularly focused one day, you can still benefit.
If you’d like to know more about meditation or would like to hone your skills, The Mind Centre is running a retreat at Gunnebah Retreat Centre in Tweed Valley from Friday 20th of June to Monday the 23rd. We would love to see you there!!!!