8 Research-Backed Reasons To Start Meditating Today!
Written by: Kavata Kithome
Like most people in the world, I am often faced with challenges and find myself re-actively participating in life’s challenges rather than actively participating; this makes for a stressful and very unfulfilled life.
You see, living a life of constant reaction isn’t very good for your well being and overall health. In my teenage years, I lived with a family that was very devout and valued religion and prayer in times of challenges and difficulties. That sorta worked, but it was not enough; prayer and religion for the most part dealt with the spiritual part of things, but I found that I was still anxious and stressed.
This is where I found mediation to be very helpful.
Now six years later as a seasoned meditator, I may wholeheartedly insist that my practice has transformed my thinking and even my brain. If you’ve never meditated before, I can imagine you may be a bit of a skeptic, you may wholeheartedly doubt that its ability to help could possibly be true. It is completely natural and a good thing to want to know what’s happening in your brain and body.
Here are 8 things we know happen in the brain during meditation. So wherever you are on your meditation journey, don’t worry, because science has you covered.
#1. Elevated Levels Of Dopamine
Dopamine is also known as the reward or feel good chemical. This is because it is associated with things that bring pleasure, like meditation, food and sex. Studies have found that yoga nidra (a deeply relaxing meditation-focused yoga practice) created a 65% increase in endogenous dopamine release. More yoga, please!
#2. Increased Production Of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
Until recently, I didn’t know what gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) was. I learned that Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is a neurotransmitter in the brain that affects your nerves. This neurotransmitter gets a boost when you meditate and it is beneficial because lower levels of GABA are associated with higher levels of anxiety.
#3. Norepinephrine Levels Drop
Norepinephrine (NE) is another neurotransmitter involved in anxiety. Studies have shown that if you compare meditators with non-meditators, people with a regular practice had lower levels of NE in their blood.
#4. Changes In The Networks Of The Brain
Do you find yourself easily distracted? In this day and age when there is so much that could pull away your focus, a meditation practice may be a great way to practice attention and disengaging from distraction. Studies have shown that people with meditation experience have increased connectivity between certain regions of the brain, such as those associated with distraction.
#5. The Amygdala Can Shrink
As you may know, the amygdala is the part of the brain associated with fear and emotion and plays a key role in the body’s stress response. In a study of over 150 adults, an eight-week mindfulness course led to a decrease in the participant’s amygdalae. We could all use less fear… imagine how much more you could do.
#6. Your Other Senses Will Get A Workout
Those that meditate often demonstrate an increase in gray matter in the parts of the brain responsible for feeling and hearing. This makes sense, because mindfulness is all about closing your eyes, filtering outside stimulation and focusing inward, all of which can enhance your other senses.
#7. You Can Create More Folds In Your Brain
A study by the National Institutes of Health showed that meditators had more folds in the outer layer of the brain. This folding (or gyrification) is known to boost how well the brain processes information.
#8. Lastly, Your Mind Can Look More Youthful
If nothing else convinces you to start meditating today, this might. The cortex is the part of the brain that shrinks as we age, but in one study, 50-year-old meditators appeared to have the same amount of gray matter in this region as a 25-year-old. To me, this seems like reason enough to start establishing a daily practice.
So, is meditation your brain’s best friend? If you ask me, I will tell you that meditation should be a part of your self-care practice to promote overall health and wellness. As you have read above, the science and research points to a resounding thumbs up to mediation. But really, there’s no way to know for sure until you try it out for yourself.
If you are just starting your meditation journey, check out my previous article here to help you take those first steps.
Thanks to Oprah and Deepak Chopra, you can start your journey right away, check out the 21-Day Meditation Experience, Hope in Uncertain Times. Now I have only one question for you – what are you waiting for?
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Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
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