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Research showing how meditation changes our brains

Change is the only constant

Meditation benefits for your brain

Zenpra 9th January 2015 0 Comments

What parts of our brain change if we practice meditationMeditation is not just about relieving stress, new research has shown that it is also helpful to improve problem solving, focus, and decision making.  More businesses are becoming aware that meditation is important to both the employee’s health and their productivity. It is one of the most effective and low cost way to provide all of these benefits. This is very important because it means that we can improve as individuals and we have the ability to change ourselves. So you do not have to stay in the mentality that you are stuck with your current abilities you have the capacity to improve yourself. It truly is amazing to see the science and the MRI scans showing how the brain actually changes after practicing meditation.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia analyzed published journal articles on the effects of meditation on the brain. You can find their research article here.  The researches wanted to know what brain structures were altered in people who practiced meditations. They gathered data from the different studies and determined what areas of the brain were changed due to meditation.

 Increased gray matter of the hippocampus- They found that people who meditated showed an increase in gray matter of the hippocampus. This means that there are more neurons and a greater processing capacity in this brain region. The hippocampus is the brain region attributed to memory and emotion. The hippocampus is also shown to be affected by stress and the hormone cortisol. So that means if we experience constant stress the hippocampus can be effected in a negative way by decreasing gray matter.

Increased activity of the anterior cingulate cortex- The anterior cingulate cortex is the region of the brain that is responsible for self regulation, focus, and learning from our past experiences.  Self regulation is your ability to focus on a given task without being distracted. It also means that you will be less impulsive and react to situations.  Learning from past experiences is the ability to understand what lessons you learned from the problems you faced in the past.

Why is meditation so important for businesses

With the world becoming more complex and moving at a faster pace it is important to be emotionally and intelligently ahead of the competition.

Self regulation and increased focus–  Meditation has shown to improve self regulation with increased activation of the anterior cingulate cortex. Self regulation is important because it allows you to be more focused at your work without being distracted. It allows you to focus on the top priority tasks that need to be done and not be distracted when minor things come up through your day. It lowers our impulse reaction to situations. You are able to make more clear and well thought out decisions when problems arise.

Ability to handle stressful situations– Our ability to handle stress is vital to both our career and health. We constantly experience stress and pressure in our jobs. Meditation helps you become more resilient to stressful situations so you do not burn out and lose your motivation. It also helps to prevent any of the negative side effects that chronic stress can have on the body.  Research showed increased gray matter in the hippocampus. This area of the brain is important for memory and emotions. It has been shown that when a person experiences constant stress such as in PTSD the gray matter of the hippocampus diminishes. So if meditation is shown to increase gray matter than it means that it prevents some of the adverse effects stress has on the brain which can effect your memory and emotions.

Improves decision making– In a fast paced world we need to be able to make the right decisions very quick. The anterior cingulate cortex part of the brain is responsible for learning from past experiences and self regulation. One of the biggest problems is repeating the problems we or others made in the past. If we are able to learn from out mistakes the next time we are faced with a similar situation we will have a better understanding and make more informed decisions. The study also showed that increased activation of the anterior cingulate cortex improves our ability to adapt to our situations. So this means we become more flexible when we are faced with problems and learn how to adapt to changing situations.

These are just few of the benefits meditation has on improving our brain functions. It has a big impact on our careers and how we perform in life. I find it very interesting to see the actual brain scans and data showing how meditation actually changes our brain structure and activation. Meditation is very easy to practice and you can look at these meditation tips to help you get started so you can see the benefits yourself.