Podcast: How Meditation Changes Your Brain
HI there, this is Yoshie. Welcome to my podcast.
Today I want to talk to you about the power of meditation and how meditation changes our brain.
I’m sure that you’ve heard a lot about how mediation can improve your life.
I’m a avid meditator. I’ve been doing it for a decade now on a daily basis.
Mediation helps to lower stress, reduce anxiety, organize our thoughts, and even lower our blood pressure. A lot of the benefits we hear about mediation relate to how we feel about things, and rarely focus on the physical changes that are actually happening inside our brains.
In fact, a person who has a regular meditation routine changes their brain chemistry, and it is these changes that are responsible for you feeling different.
I can see in my own life how meditation changed the way I think and feel.
Let’s talk about our brain Before Meditation
Let’s talk about the person who doesn’t’ meditate regularly.
In all of our brains we have different sections that are responsible for different things. When talking about meditation, two of the sections we are most focused on are the Lateral Prefrontal Cortex and the Medial Prefrontal Cortex.
The Lateral Prefrontal Cortex allows us to look at things in a more rational way, and to keep our emotions in check when we are making a decision.
The Medial Prefrontal Cortex is the portion of your brain that focuses on yourself – what you are thinking and how you feel.
Besides these two sections, you also have the Insula – which monitors bodily sensations, or “gut feelings” - and the Amygdala – which is the fear center of the brain. All of these sections work together to process the information our brain receives, and react accordingly.
But, the way your brain currently reacts to certain situations may not be the way you want it to react.
For example, in a person who does not meditate on a regular basis there is a strong connection between the Medial Prefrontal Cortex (the “me” section) and the Insula, which monitors bodily sensations or gut feelings. This means that when you experience a sensation – such as anxiety, fear or a tingling – you are likely to associate it with danger. The Medial Prefrontal Cortex is handling most of the information processing, which causes us to get into negative feedback loops.
How Meditation Changes Our Brain
Studies have shown that long-term meditation practices actually change the connections in our brain. People who meditate weaken the connections between the “Me” center (the medial prefrontal cortex) and the bodily sensation center, while simultaneously strengthening the connection between the “Me” center and the Lateral Prefrontal Cortex – or the assessment section.
So what happens is that rather than jumping to the conclusion that we are in danger when we feel anxiety, our brain becomes more likely to assess the situation, and think about it more rationally.
We’ve known for a long time that meditation leads to a decrease in anxiety, but now we know the science behind why that is – we are actually changing the neural connections in our brains!
I want to say to you that
Changes Don't Happen Right Away
For anyone looking to alter their brain connections through meditation, it's important to know this won't happen over night.
A regular meditation practice is required to break down the old connections in your brain, and to build up new ones. One study showed changes in the brain after 8 weeks of meditation – with roughly 30 minutes of meditation per day.
When meditating, many of us become frustrated that we are not seeing results. If this is you, stick with it, and know that behind the scenes you are slowly changing the makeup of your brain, and that the results will follow in time.
Also You are going to mediate not to become a better meditator but to become a better human being.
Ultimately, we come to the place of understanding that all life is meditation and that every single moment is an opportunity to mediate so that each of us can become a better human being.