What Meditation Really Does to Your Brain

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What Meditation Really Does to Your Brain

Research frequently shows the biological differences between a regular mind and a meditating one. Most people say that just ten minutes a day practicing meditation can have significant effects on a person’s health and attitude. Meditation works to reduce activity in the default mode network as well as anxiety and stress.

According to Dr. Fred Travis, neuroscientist and author of Your Brain is a River, Not a Rock, the default mode network of the brain is defined as a “part of the brain active when a person is engaged in internal thinking.” In other words, this is the part of the brain that turns on when the person is not engaged in activity and wanders from thought to thought. Most of the time this is characterized as day dreaming. For the person who is depressed or anxious though, wandering thoughts can be extremely counterintuitive for recovery. These peoples’ thoughts tend to be more negative or desperate which can induce behaviors or outbursts. People with addictions tend to turn to substances to alleviate the depression from these thoughts. Interestingly enough, Dr. Travis noticed that this area of the brain was quieter when a person was engaged in meditation. Decreasing this area of the brain reduces the possibility for these thoughts to occur.

Meditation has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. According to researchers at the University of Zagreb in Croatia, meditation can, “be helpful in treating different kinds of disorders, especially anxiety disorders.” This study in particular measured the EEG recordings of people who practiced meditation and people who did not. They found that people who actively meditated had less power and wave activity in the left hemisphere, but not in the right. This means that the anxiety these individuals were experiencing in the experiment was decreased. The researchers go on to say that, “Obtained results confirm the effects of TM on some baseline EEG brainwave patterns and state anxiety, suggesting that the left hemisphere is more sensitive to meditation practice. Most of the changes were found in the occipital and temporal areas, less in the central and frontal areas. State anxiety decreased after TM practice.”

Ten minutes of meditating a day is not that much of the standard twelve hour day, and the benefits are astounding. It should be incorporated into every therapy, especially those suffering with anxiety, but it can also be helpful for all people in their daily life.

References:

[1] http://tmhome.com/benefits/study-transcendental-meditation-practice-effortless/

[2] http://tmhome.com/benefits/treating-anxiety-disorders-meditation/

 


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