How Meditation Can Actually Change Your Brain

Meditation and the brain; Young attractive boy exercising, man practicing meditation indoors, Yoga and Healthy lifestyle concept.

Over the years, many of us have heard how meditation can set the mind free. While it can be tough to know what this means or even what one should expect, those who practice meditation regularly have a great sense for just how effective these methods are.

For centuries, many societies have linked meditation to various degrees of spiritual enlightenment, wisdom, and self-control. While these effects were largely misunderstood or somewhat unknown, recent research has come to light in which the actual biochemical changes of the brain reflect what many have long believed about meditation.

Volume Changes in Key Areas of the Brain

It has been shown that long-term meditation helps to preserve grey matter volume in the brain. This preservation helps to maintain mental acuity and prevents early decay, potentially assisting with certain neurological disease prevention such as Alzheimer’s and dementia

Other volume changes include an addition in mass to the hippocampus. This area of the brain oversees learning and memory and has been shown to grow even after a couple of months of meditation. Cell volume during this time has been shown to decrease at the amygdala, an area of the brain often associated with stress, anxiety, and depression. 

What are the Benefits?

  • Improved Mental Health

With reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression, there is a coupled effect in helping those with addiction fight back against their disease. This effect is coupled as many who suffer from addiction often have some sort of mental illness co-morbidity and often this stems from, or creates, poor perception of self. Additionally, meditation has the ability to help individuals have a clearer picture of their goal and in turn, may help overcome cravings of relapse or usage.

  • Improved Behavior

For younger children, meditation has been shown to be especially helpful in reducing erratic behavior in schools. Many school systems are starting to transition over to meditation from the traditional path of punishment and have seen amazing results. Often, students are less likely to continue getting in trouble and begin to show signs of greater academic prowess than previously believed. 

  • Improved Concentration and Attention

Meditation has also been shown to decrease activity at the default mode network of the brain. This area of the brain is closely associated with jumping from thought to thought, or “mind-wandering.” When this area is highly active, it becomes increasingly difficult for individuals to concentrate on tasks that need to be accomplished. This provides a feeling of unproductivity and is associated with a lack of happiness in one’s life.

When considering meditation and other relaxation techniques, it is important to find one that works well for you and your lifestyle. Even 10 minutes a day may start to produce changes in the brain that can immediately impact your quality of life for the better.

About Regional Neurological Associates

Founded in 1997, Regional Neurological Associates is one of the oldest neurology and psychiatry practices in the Bronx and Westchester. At our New York practice, based in the Bronx with satellites throughout Westchester and Manhattan, we manage a range of neurologic conditions including headaches and migraines, movement and balance disorders, strokes and neuromuscular disorders. Our University-affiliated neurologists provide cutting edge care tailored to each of our patient’s needs. To schedule an appointment, call (718) 515-4347.