Neuroscience and Meditation.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

Buddha

Havard neuroscientists interested in meditation have reported that brain structures change after eight weeks of meditation. Their research has shown that meditation and mindfulness training can cause neuroplastic (it refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses) changes to the gray matter of our brain.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day.” — Sara Lazar, The study’s senior author.

To test this idea, the neuroscientists enrolled 16 people in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course (body scan, yoga, and resting meditation). The meditation group participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day practising some form of mindfulness.

MRI scans were taken before and after this experiment, and a control group of people, who didn’t participate in meditation exercises had their brains scanned too. After completing the mindfulness course, all participants reported significant improvement in measures of mindfulness, such as “acting with awareness”, “being Calm” and “non-judging.”

MRI scans showed that the meditating groups increased their gray matter concentration on the left hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and cerebellum.
This brain regions are the ones regulating memory, learning abilities, cognitive abilities, emotional regulation, sense of self, problem solving and perspective

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practising meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”- Britta Hölzel, the lead author on the paper.

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Article by: Ariann Aguilar