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Meditation and Brain Relaxation
Meditation allows your mind to focus and relax. Meditation causes you to focus on your breathing, thoughts, and the sounds around you, or you can focus on whatever you want.
By directing your conscious mind to focus on specific targets, it distracts, or prevents it from ‘churning’, ‘ruminating’ or ‘planning’ types of brain activities. Our modern lifestyles cause our brains and minds to be constantly bombarded and overloaded with sensory input.
Considering the degree of data overload most humans experience, it is not at all surprising that chronic stress affects as many people as it does. Simply stated, we did not evolve to deal with level of constant brain engagement. Meditation provides an antithesis to this frenetic, unnatural activity.
Meditation allows your brain to relax, which is why it is so beneficial for your brain’s health.
Meditation Helps Ease the Distressed Mind
Meditation has been used to help patients suffering with emotional stress and also anxiety. Many people have had success from their mental anguish after practicing mindfulness meditation for one hour a day over an eight-week period.
Meditation used in conjunction with other relaxation techniques such as yoga and other gentle exercise, have proved to be even more helpful.
A study was performed to determine the effects of mindfulness meditation. Each study participant had a brain scan done before and after the mindfulness session. The scans showed increased activity after the session, compared to before the session. This increased activity was found in the area of the brain responsible for processing information.
The results also showed that their amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for processing anxiety and stress, became less active. This translated to reduced feelings of anxiety and stress.
Meditation Reduces the Size of Amygdala
Another study suggests that meditation helps the brain’s amygdala become smaller. Stress, anxiety and other forms of emotional trauma have been found to enlarge the amygdala, and the larger it is the more reactive it becomes.
This particular study used participants who were suffering from extremely high levels of stress. All of them were asked to undergo mindfulness meditation practice for eight weeks. After their mindfulness meditation training, the participants’ brains were found to be more resilient and less reactive. Plus, they had reduced feelings of stress and anxiety.
Meditation Increases GABA Production in the Brain