Meditational exercises originate from Yoga, which is an ancient Indian institution that comprises physical, mental, and spiritual activities. Its origins can be traced back to the pre-Vedic era. These practices are designed based on intense and extensive study of the human body and mind focusing on their sole purpose. That is mental awareness.
It was only during the mid-19th century that the western world was introduced to these yogic practices. This led to the uprising of curiosity amongst the westerners attracting the attention of modern theologists, philosophers, and psychiatrists.
Today, it is approximated that nearly 200-500 million people worldwide practice meditation. In the US, there has been a massive rise in the popularity of meditation, and it has become an essential part of popular culture today.
A recent survey projects that nearly 40% of US adults practice meditation at least once a week. These numbers say a lot about the general acceptance of meditation by the adults in the US.
Considering how dense and stressful everyday life has become today, meditation has become an essential practice to maintain a healthy balance in a fast-moving modern world.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice where an individual attains mindfulness with the help of simple breathing and focusing on techniques. Ideally, it involves focusing on breathing and observing your thoughts to achieve attentiveness and a calm and relaxed state of mind.
Mindful meditation has been highly regarded by renowned psychiatrists and doctors, as it is proven to fight stress, anxiety, and depression most naturally and effectively.
In the last century, doctors and psychiatrists have thoroughly studied the effects of meditation and considered how it brings positive changes in the brain. The research was conducted recently in China, where the brain activities of people who are practicing meditation for a long time were mapped. It was observed that these brains have a large concentration of gray matter in their frontal areas of the brain that helps them focus and perform complicated tasks efficiently.
This clearly shows how simple mindful meditation practices can do wonders. Let us now delve deeper into the overall effects of meditation on the brain.
1. Improves focus
Meditational practices involve focusing our attention and being mindful about when it goes astray. When these practices are performed for a more extended time, it enhances our brain’s ability to maintain focus and complete tasks much more quickly.
2. Reduces Anxiety
In a section of our brain, called Me center (medial prefrontal cortex), our intimate information and experiences are processed. So, the neural stimulation triggered by bodily sensations is felt too strong in the brain of a chronically depressed person. Therefore, when we experience a distressing situation, it triggers a powerful reaction in your medial prefrontal cortex, making you feel sad and depressed.
With the help of meditation, these neural connections are loosened. This relaxes us, and we do not react to those reactions with vigorous intensity. This is how meditation helps people reduce anxiety and deal with the situation in a much calmer and composed manner.
3. Boosts Creativity
Mindfulness Meditation helps tremendously in developing our focusing capability and opens up our mind too much more broad and divergent thinking. More than anything, it helps us relax, and when we are relaxed, we are much more open to different ideas. Meditation boosts your creativity by miles, helping you think in a much broader capacity and make better decisions.
4. Sharper Memory
Meditation helps you think in a much more focused way ignoring distractions and getting the thought to its conclusion. This ability is honed by those who practice meditation regularly, helping them increase their productivity much more quickly than those who do not meditate.
It is this ability to avoid disturbances, helps them to track back to their memory, and have a far superior ability to recall, remember, and store new facts.
5. More Gray Matter
One of the essential benefits of meditation is its ability to the production of more copious amounts of gray matter in the frontal area of the brain. This is highly influential in having positive thoughts, emotional stability, and a sharper focus making optimum use of our cognitive function.
6. Reduces Stress
Prolonged mindful meditation helps you develop a higher level of composure and perform a complicated task in a calm and relaxed manner. As the neuron paths in the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain are loosened, we do not react strongly to stressful situations; instead we focus within the limits of the task and take it to its solution.
As we have seen, if mindful meditation is practiced regularly, you can develop essential life skills such as composure, sharp focus, and awareness. Today, in such a highly stress-induced everyday routine, it has become highly imperative to stay relaxed and deal with life in a composed way.