meditation grows the brain

Meditation has become a buzzword and it seems that meditation has become a subtle cure ALL for everything and anything. But the followup conversation exploring why meditation is the best cure often falls short (like a bad tinder date kind of short). It falls short when we propose the question as to why we should skip getting "shit done" to get "sit done".  

This is because the mysterious magic of meditation isn't exactly easy to explain. I'm a neuroscience junkie (and graduate) and I struggle to break down what happens when we meditate to those who ask why I am an avid supporter for getting sit done over shit done. This is because even peak neuroscientist don't fully understand the brain. This means that they have even less of an idea of what happens when we meditate or how meditation changes the brain. And the brain does change when we meditate. It has been proven time and time again, through extensive research, that a consistent meditation practice (one that lasts 27 minutes to be precise, thank you Harvard) alters both the function and structure of our brains. 

Here are two ways a daily meditation practice changes the structure of the brain altering how we function in the world. 

1. Meditation increases our neural synchrony.

Neural synchrony is considered the neural correlate of consciousness

con·scious·ness //      kän(t)SHəsnəs //      noun

1. The state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings.

2. The awareness or perception of something by a person.

3. The fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.

I don't know about you, but I would rather increase my experience of consciousness through meditation then going out into the amazon to play with psychedelics. 

Increase neural synchrony or consciousness is a really important statement because decreased neural synchrony is related to severe psychosis and schizofrenia. 

2. Increases the cortical thickness of the temper-carietal junction. 

This area of the brain is associated with unity of self and body. When this areas cortical thickness is increased there is a greater self connection between their mind and body. Additionally the increase in mind body connection is related to a sense of compassion. Meditation literally makes us more compassionate. Meaning meditation isn't just something we do for ourselves but instead meditation could be seen as a social responsibility (something my meditation teacher says often). 

So the next time someone asks you why you meditate and instead of repeating the commonly known facts that meditation lowers anxiety and depression, increases greater self awareness, deregulates the nervous system and commonly increases those good juju feels... how about filling them in with some facts on how meditation doesn't just change how you function in the world but the structure of your brain. Maybe that will demonstrate that getting "sit done" is truly getting "shit done". 

 

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Ailey Jolie