How meditation is good for the brain
Did you know that 10 minutes of meditation per day can actually improve your cognitive function? Meditation is not only a great way to start or end your day, create a calm space for your mind, and create essential me-time. Practicing mindfulness every day can actually increase your level of concentration and the ability to keep information active in your mind (working memory).
But how does this work?
Our brains are able to achieve this increase in brain functions by becoming more efficient and not using up many brain resources by practicing meditation. In a research study with 34 participants, researchers were able to analyze the effects of meditation on their brains for 8 weeks, where participants meditated about 4 times per week, while a control group only did normal muscle exercises. As a result, researchers found an increase in concentration and working memory, while the control group did not show any significant changes.
In order to see what had changed in the brain causing this increase, the research study recorded the participants’ brain activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG) while they were meditating. They then rapidly switched the moving discs on and off at a fixed rate. Their continuous flickering drove a brain signal called steady-state visually evoked potential, meaning that the brain generates electrical activity with the same frequency as the flickering discs.
After 8 weeks of training, the signal was then reduced by 88% for the meditation group, not for the control group. The results showed, that the brain network for people practicing mindfulness became more refined so that fewer brain resources were needed to carry out the tasks.
Meditation for people with chronic diseases
But meditation is not only great for your concentration and working memory. According to the Harvard Gazette, it has been proven that meditation benefits against an array of conditions, both physical and mental including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. While other chronic diseases have not shown representative results due to clinical trials with small sample sizes, the findings for depression and chronic pain are based on well-designed, well-run research studies.
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