5 Scientifically-Backed Reasons Why You Should Start Meditating

Practicing mindfulness and meditation has become a trending topic in the health and wellness community.

There are claims that meditation:

  • Improves cognitive function
  • Reduces stress
  • Increases empathy
  • Enhances creativity

Here’s the science that backs it up:

Our brains are actually more active while “idle”

While daydreaming or meditating, our brain becomes 10 percent more active than while concentrating on a fixated task. A complex circuit in our brain known as the default mode network (DMN) activates.[1]

This activity in the DMN has been found to restructure the brain. Here’s how:

1. Meditation improves concentration[2]

Numerous studies have shown that meditation strengthens the connections in the DMN, and helps people learn how to shift more effectively between the DMN and circuits used for concentrating on a fixated task.

2. Meditation enhances our ability to perform higher-level mental processes[3]

Meditators develop more intricately wrinkled cortices – the brain’s outer layer – which is associated with more sophisticated mental abilities, such as forming abstract thoughts and introspection

3. Meditation improves memory[4]

Meditation increases the volume and density of the hippocampus, where the process of memory retention take place.

4. Meditation develops our ability to control our emotions[5]

Meditating has been found to thicken regions of the frontal cortex, which we use to manage our emotions.

5.Meditation can help prevent brain degeneration[6]

Zen meditation has been found to reduce the degeneration of cerebral gray matter volume.

[1] Ferris Jabr, “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime,” scientificamerican.com, October 15, 2015, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/

[2] Fadel Zeidan, Sussan K. Johnson, Bruce Diamond, Zhanna David, and Paula Goolkasian.“Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810010000681#

[3] Mark Wheeler. “Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, UCLA researchers say” ucla.edu http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/evidence-builds-that-meditation-230237

[4] Eileen Luders, Arthur Toga, Natasha Lepore, and Christian Gaser. “The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184843/

[5] Eileen Luders, Arthur Toga, Natasha Lepore, and Christian Gaser. “The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184843/

[6] Guiseppe Pagnoni. “Age effects on gray matter volume and attentional performance in Zen meditation” (2007) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197458007002436

 

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