Can Meditation Change The Brain?

Throughout history, meditation has been practised in one form or another to assert the primal instinct to connect with oneself and the universe.  Perhaps is the most effective channel to reach clarity and harness the power of thought. Interestingly, the practice has its variations from sweat lodge ceremonies of Native Americans, to reading the Bible, the whirling dervishes, sound rituals of aborigines, to Islamic practices of prayers. Nevertheless, meditation trains the brain and enables us to shift our brainwaves from the working mind to deep sleep.

I briefly touched on the Alpha State of mind in my last post, now I like to delve in how to move from one state of mind to another through meditation. So I decided to learn about the process and write about my findings in a series of blog posts.

Let’s start with our brain frequencies:

  • Gamma State (30-100Hz), is when your brain is extremely active and retains information. In this state, you are an active learner and the assimilated information is lasting. However, if it is excessively stimulated, it can lead to anxiety. A good example is when you attend a seminar or a workshop and the coaches urges you to jump up and down or dance.
  • Beta State(13-30HZ), is associated with the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that orchestrates our thoughts and actions from personality expression, decision making or keeping our social behaviours under the control.
  • Alpha State (9-13Hz) is when the thinking mind slows down becomes calm and peaceful. In this state, the communication pathways in the brain (neural integration) are open to activate the intelligible and reflective mind. The only way to know that you have reached this state is when you are completely relaxed mentally and physically.
  • Theta State (4-8Hz) is when our brainwave in its intuitive thinking. Meditation begins in this state and we can move the thinking mind over to visual mind. Your brain is extremely receptive to visualization.
  • Delta State (1-3 Hz) is when we are in deep and dreamless sleep. In this state, through transcendental meditation, we can reach the realm of the unconscious and connect with the collective unconscious or the universal mind.

When you train your brain to move from the active state to a calm state through mindful meditation, the brain undergoes positive changes.  It heightens emotional intelligence and strengthens the resilience of your mind leading to good physical well-being. In a study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia, “Is meditation associated with altered brain structure?”, they confirm that the brains of consistent meditators have thicker tissue in those regions responsible for body awareness, enhanced focus, stress management and attention control. (Referring to Anterior cingulate cortex – the area associated with controlling impulses and maintaining attention).

 

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ANTONIO MORA

 

Furthermore, the research outlines that regular practice of mindful meditation activates some regions in the brain while other regions are deactivated. For instance, the brain region associated with many negative emotions such as anxiety or sadness gets smaller with practice.

Overall, integrating mindful meditation techniques into our lives will significantly reduce our unproductive emotions and boosts self-regulation.

 

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ANTONIO MORA

 

In the next post, I will introduce a few techniques on how to apply this alternative wellbeing approach into our daily lives to manage our emotions.

 

Featured image by ANTONIO MORA


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