11 Jul Meditation and the Mind
You always hear about how meditating is good for your mind, but you don’t really know why and know? Here are 4 big ways that meditation affects your brain:
1. Increased grey matter/cortical thickness in key areas-
• Anterior Cingulate Cortex: There is an increase in grey matter in the ACC which allows for more cognitive flexibility when faced with conflicts.
• Prefrontal Cortex: Increased grey matter density in the prefrontal lobe leads to better planning, problem solving, and emotion regulation.
• Hippocampus: Increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus results in a positive change in your learning and better memory, and less susceptible to stress and stress-related disorders like PTSD and depression.
2. Decreased Amygdala Size-
Studies on the effects of meditation on the mind have shown that the amygdala, aka our brain’s “fight or flight” center and the base for our fearful and anxious emotions, decreases in brain cell volume after meditation. In other words, meditation helps us be more calm and less prone to experience negative emotions.
3. Diminished or enhanced functionality in certain networks/connections-
Not only does our amygdala shrink, but the functional connections between the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex are weakened. This allows connections between areas associated with higher order brain functions to be strengthened (i.e. attention, concentration, etc.).
4. Reduced activity in the Brain’s “Me” Center-
Meditation results in decreased activation and increased stability of our Default Mode Network (DMN). The DMN is active when our minds are directionless as it goes from thought to thought and causes us to mindlessly react to situations. With meditation, it allows us a chance to pause and choose our reaction, instead of carelessly reacting reflexively.