Scientific studies show that when we meditate we are in effect changing the shape of our brain by flexing the muscle of attention. The same way we go to the gym and do repetitions to increase our muscle, we practice meditation daily to focus the mind and change its neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change its structure.
“Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses which are due to changes in behavior, environment and neural processes. Neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how – and in which ways – the brain changes throughout life. Neuroplasticity occurs on a variety of levels, ranging from cellular changes due to learning, to large-scale changes involved in cortical remapping in response to injury. The role of neuroplasticity is widely recognized in healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from brain damage” ~ Wikipedia
Dr. Sarah Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, demonstrated through mindfulness studies that you can change the shape of your brain after just 8 weeks of meditation for 20 minutes a day (published in the Journal of Psychiatry Research). Researchers also found that the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for our “fight or flight” and fear responses actually shrinks when practicing mindfulness meditation decreasing our stress response and becoming less reactive.
The changes that occur in the brain as a result of meditating reduce blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing our emotional intelligence, productivity, creativity and concentration. We are able to solve difficult problems, become more pro-social, and find freedom from habitual thoughts and feelings that no longer serve us. This allows us to develop a skillful way of being with ourselves and others.
If you are new to meditating and would like to give it a try, please try our complimentary beginner’s guided sitting meditation.