How does meditation change the brain?
Studies show that regular meditation increases grey matter density in areas of the brain involved in emotion control. As a result, meditation improves concentration, memory, and empathy, regulates emotions, and helps us relate to others.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind on the tingling pulsation of your life force without distraction.
There are four types of meditation: Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. The purest form of Dhyana is Kundalini meditation, where you awaken your life force to your Ajna chakra and meditate over it.
Pratyahara is avoiding distractions. Dharana is concentration. Dhyana is a life force meditation. The ultimate goal of meditation is living one with the unified, almighty force.
Each type of meditation requires a certain level of concentration and focus.
I refer to Dhyana as meditation here.
How does meditation work?
Meditation is a great way to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, increase focus, and boost productivity. But how exactly does it work? What types of meditation exist? And what do you need to know about each one?
We’ve found that when we meditate regularly, we feel happier, calmer, and more relaxed. Our brains produce serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, and norepinephrine, chemicals that help us regulate moods, reduce anxiety, and cope with life’s challenges.
Our brains release these chemicals naturally during periods of deep sleep, but meditation triggers them at a deeper level. So meditation not only makes us happy, it changes our brains.
Your brain functions in four frequencies
Your brain waves influence how you think and act – and they do it in ways we don’t always understand. Four main types of frequency govern our brains’ activity. These different brainwave patterns determine what type of thoughts we experience and how we behave. They also play a role in everything from stress management to creativity.
The four types are:
Let me explain each type.
Beta waves are the most common type of brainwave activity we experience during our waking hours. They are also known as “beta” because they occur between 14Hz and 40Hz.
They are associated with alertness and engagement. Beta waves are present in the brain’s frontal lobes. They are often seen in people who are awake.
Beta brainwaves are very important for people who want to learn new things or improve their memory. Beta brainwaves are associated with learning, creativity, problem-solving, decision-making, and stress management. People with high beta brainwaves tend to be active physically and mentally.
High Beta waves are associated with emotional states of mind. For example, people with high beta waves are usually stressed out, anxious, or unfocused. Conversely, low beta waves indicate that someone is calm, relaxed, and focused.
People with high beta waves have trouble sleeping. It can lead to insomnia.
Alpha brainwaves are a relaxed state of mind. Alpha waves are more common when someone is asleep—your brain functions between 8 and 13 cps in the Alpha state.
To achieve alpha brainwaves, you must first learn how to relax. It will allow you to enter the meditative state where alpha brainwaves occur naturally.
During alpha waves, the brain is calm and relaxed. This state occurs naturally while sleeping with dreams, meditating, concentrating intensely on some work, and in a transcendental state.
Brain Alpha waves are associated with daydreaming, creative thinking, and relaxation.
What do alpha waves do to the brain?
The Alpha level of meditation helps our brains become more efficient. We learn better because we use fewer resources to process information. It means we can pay closer attention to details, remember things longer, and be more creative. Meditating also improves our memory retention and reduces anxiety.
When we enter the Alpha state, we enter a state of mind where we can access our subconscious thoughts. Our conscious minds are still aware of everything around us, but our subconscious minds aren’t distracted by external stimuli. So we can concentrate on what’s important.
This allows us to gain deeper insight into ourselves and others. We can observe our own emotions and those of others. And this gives us a greater understanding of life and the world around us.
We can also tap into our intuition, which is our sixth sense. Intuition is our unconscious awareness of what’s happening around us. It’s not rational thought; it’s just knowing.
Intuition helps to solve problems. For example, when driving down the road, we may notice a car parked across the street. Without consciously thinking about it, we may intuitively know that the driver is having trouble getting out of his vehicle.
Our intuition is helpful in everyday situations, too. For example, if we’re walking through a crowded store, we may instinctively avoid bumping into strangers. Or, if we’re talking to a friend who seems angry, we may intuitively understand that he’s upset because he feels rejected.
Alpha-level meditation helps us develop our intuition. For example, we can practice noticing subtle signs of emotion in others and train ourselves to recognize them.
Alpha brain waves (between 8 and 13 hertz) are a “bridge” between the external and internal worlds.
Theta waves are slow oscillations (4 – 7 Hz) during deep sleep. They’re associated with relaxation, creativity, and intuition. Meditation increases the amount of theta activity in the brain, which may be why meditators experience greater feelings of peace and happiness than non-meditators.
The brainwave patterns we experience during deep relaxation, sleep without dreams, or deep meditation is called theta waves. These are slower than alpha waves and occur when we’re relaxed and focused. Meditation increases the production of these slow-moving waves, which makes us feel calmer and more at peace.
Theta meditation helps us achieve inner calm and balance, which allows our minds to become more focused and creative. We can use this power to improve our relationships, solve problems, and create positive change in our lives.
When we practice the Theta level of meditation, we learn to observe thoughts and emotions without judgment. It leads to a sense of freedom and detachment, allowing us to let go of negative emotions and stress.
Theta waves may be responsible for some of our most profound experiences of spirituality.
Delta waves are the lowest frequency wave patterns observed during deep sleep. They’re associated with the most profound stages of sleep, including the most extended periods of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The brain functions at 0.5 to 3 cps at Delta frequency.
Our brains undergo massive rewiring and reorganization during these long REM sleep periods. This process is neuroplasticity, allowing us to learn and grow throughout life.
The brainwaves we experience when awake differ from those experienced during deep sleep. During deep sleep, the brain experiences delta waves, the lowest frequency observed. These waves are associated with the most profound states of consciousness.
When we meditate, our brains produce these delta waves. During meditation, the brain enters a state of deep relaxation where the body becomes still, and the mind focuses inward. It allows us to experience the most profound forms of peace and tranquillity.
Clinical research on meditation
The research behind meditation is gaining strength. For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that those who meditate regularly experience less anxiety. Another study at Harvard Medical School showed that people who practised mindfulness had lower cortisol levels—a stress hormone—than those who did not.
In addition to helping people cope with daily stresses, meditation can change the brain. For example, a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that participants who meditated experienced changes in the structure of the Amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotion. It suggests that meditation could help regulate emotions and reduce the activity of the Amygdala, thereby reducing the impact of perceived threats.
Greater Attention and Focus
Meditation helps you tune in to greater attention and focus. It improves your ability to concentrate and pay attention. And it makes you happier.
Meditation is about focusing on the pulsation of your life force. It is here and now without judgment or expectations. You can practice it safely at home once you awaken it through a Simplified Kundalini Yoga practice with a simple touch of a trained divine master.
We can improve our attention span simply by tuning into the present moment.
Ageing and Brain
Meditation helps maintain the health of your brain. A study published in Scientific Reports found that older adults who meditated had similar levels of grey matter as those who didn’t. “We know that meditation improves attention and memory,” says lead author Dr David Perlman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University School of Medicine. “We wanted to see whether it could improve the structure of our brains.”
The researchers recruited 20 healthy older adults aged 60–80 years old. Half took part in eight weeks of mindfulness training, while the rest served as controls. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure changes in the participants’ grey matter thickness. MRI scans revealed that the older adults who practised meditation showed increased cortical thickness in areas associated with visual perception, language processing, and emotion regulation. These regions are important because they’re responsible for maintaining cognitive function.
In addition to improving mental acuity, regular meditation might even extend life. In a separate study, researchers examined data from over 3,600 individuals, including 2,300 centenarians. Those who reported practising meditation daily lived longer than those who did not. “This is one of the most exciting findings I’ve seen in my career,” says Dr Perlman. “If you practice meditation daily, it gives you about three extra months of life expectancy.”
Structures and Neuroplasticity
Meditation creates physical changes in the brain. In particular, it increases grey matter volume and changes the brain’s structure, according to research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Researchers found that people who practised meditation had increased grey matter volume in specific regions of the brain’s left hemisphere compared to those who did not practice meditation. They also found that people who practised meditation had more excellent structural connectivity within the default mode network, a group of brain areas associated with self-reflection and social awareness. These findings suggest that practising meditation leads to neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change itself based on experience.
Neuroplasticity is an essential component of human development. This process allows us to adapt to different situations through learning and memory, allowing us to grow and develop throughout life. Studies show that we can learn something new every day; we just need to ensure we are exposed to enough information.
Chemical Helpers with Meditation
Meditation increases the production of serotonin. Serotonin plays a vital role in regulating our moods. We produce it naturally during sleep. But we also make it in our brains throughout life. When you meditate regularly, you release chemical helpers that help regulate your emotions. You feel less stressed, happier, calmer, and more relaxed.
Serotonin helps us focus, concentrate, and relax. And research shows that meditation makes it easier for us to do those things. For example, one study found that people who practised meditation had better memory recall than people who didn’t practice meditation. Another study showed that people who meditated experienced fewer stress symptoms than people who didn’t meditate.
When you meditate, you’re releasing serotonin into your body. It helps reduce anxiety, depression, anger, and fear. So next time you feel anxious or depressed, try some mediation. It could help you feel better.
Meditation changes the way your brain responds to distractions. A study published in Scientific Reports found that meditation alters the brain’s structure. Participants who practised meditation had thicker white matter tracts connecting different brain parts. It suggests that meditation strengthens connections between brain regions involved in attention, memory, emotion regulation and self-awareness.
The researchers believe this change could help people cope better with stress, anxiety and fear. In addition, it could improve one’s ability to focus and concentrate.
Meditation reduces stress levels. Research suggests that meditation can improve attention, memory and focus. For example, in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers found that participants who practised meditation had lower levels of cortisol — a hormone associated with stress — compared to those who did not practice it.
Meditation helps people relax and reduce stress. A study published in Psychophysiology found that meditation helped people feel less anxious and stressed out. Participants who practised meditation reported feeling calmer and having fewer negative thoughts than those who didn’t practice it.
Focus and memory
According to research published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, meditation can help people improve their ability to concentrate and remember things better. The study found that meditation helped participants perform better on tests designed to measure working memory capacity—the ability to hold information in mind while performing another task—and sustained attention. In addition, it improved performance on tasks measuring cognitive flexibility, such as switching between mental sets.
The researchers recruited 18 healthy adults aged 20–30 and asked each participant to complete three sessions over four days. During one session, participants practised meditation; during another session, they finished a control activity that involved reading about unrelated topics; and during the final session, they did both activities simultaneously. Participants had no previous experience practising meditation.
After completing the sessions, the researchers measured changes in brain function using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They discovered that meditation increased blood flow in areas of the brain associated with visual processing and spatial navigation, including the occipital lobe, parietal cortex, and hippocampus. However, it also decreased blood flow in areas related to emotional regulation, including the Amygdala, insula, and anterior cingulate gyrus. These findings suggest that meditation may increase awareness of sensory stimuli and decrease negative emotions, which could explain why it enhances memory recall and reduces distractions.
Anxiety and depression
Meditation helps reduce stress and anxiety. A 2019 review found that it could also help people suffering from depression and anxiety. Researchers looked at studies conducted over the previous ten years. They concluded that there is evidence to support the use of meditation-based interventions to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, pain, substance abuse, eating disorders, and chronic illness. They also noted that meditation programs are often associated with positive health outcomes such as lower blood pressure, improved immune function, and better sleep quality.
A 2019 review found that meditation helps relieve symptoms of depression and improve mood. In one study, researchers asked participants to meditate daily for eight weeks. Afterwards, those who had been depressed reported significant improvements in their spirit. Another study showed that meditation reduces anxiety levels among people with social phobia. And a third study suggested that meditation improves attention and concentration.
Researchers have also shown that meditation can help fight off stress and anxiety. One study found that practising meditation for just five minutes per day for three months resulted in decreased cortisol levels — a hormone linked to increased stress — and improved self-reported measures of well-being. Other research suggests that meditation can help combat feelings of anger and aggression.
Another study found that meditation can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Participants in the study were randomly assigned to either a control or training group. Those in the latter group practised meditation techniques twice weekly for 12 weeks. At the end of the program, researchers found that the meditation group experienced fewer depressive and psychological distress symptoms than the control group.
Meditation improves creative thinking. A study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that people who meditate are better able to think creatively. It turns out that open monitoring meditation is particularly effective at improving creative thinking.
The researchers compared three different types of meditation — focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness — and tested participants’ ability to solve problems under conditions of high cognitive load. They found that those who practised open-monitoring meditation performed best.
Open monitoring meditation involves focusing on one thing while simultaneously observing everything else around you. As a result, you’re constantly aware of what’s happening without being distracted by thoughts about anything else. This type of meditation is often used to help reduce stress and anxiety.
In addition, the researchers found that open monitoring meditation improved performance on tests of creative problem-solving. For example, people who practised open-monitoring meditation showed more significant improvement on tasks requiring divergent thinking — the ability to devise multiple solutions to a problem.
It suggests that meditation could be helpful for people to overcome impasses during brainstorming sessions.
Meditation is one of the most widely practised practices across cultures and religions. And it seems like it could help you become less judgmental. A study published in January 2018 found that people who meditate can better empathize with others — even those they don’t particularly know.
The researchers asked participants to complete a questionnaire about how much they agreed with statements such as “I am often irritated by other people,” “I tend to judge people harshly,” and “I find it difficult to put myself in someone else’s shoes.” Then, they gave the same survey to people who had been practising meditation for three months or longer and compared the responses.
People who meditated tended to agree with fewer statements, suggesting they were more empathetic overall. This effect was most substantial among people who reported having strong feelings of compassion toward others.
In another part of the experiment, the researchers showed volunteers pictures of faces paired with words describing positive or negative traits. Then, participants were told to imagine themselves in the person’s place and decide whether they wanted to hang out with them. Again, people who meditated performed better on this task, rating the faces as friendlier and showing more signs of emotional contagion — or feeling what others felt.
The compassion effect wasn’t limited to people who regularly practice meditation; people who engaged in other forms of contemplative activity, including yoga, tai chi, chanting, and prayer, also showed similar improvements.
So why does meditation make us more compassionate? One theory suggests that it trains us to focus inwardly, allowing us to see things from another person’s perspective. Another possibility is that it improves self-control, reducing the tendency to react negatively to frustrating situations.
The research proves that meditation might change your brain chemistry regardless of its mechanism. In a separate paper published earlier this month, scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the brains of experienced meditators and novice subjects. At the same time, they completed tasks designed to measure their ability to regulate attention and emotion.
Meditation helps us focus better while learning or memorizing something. Being exposed to new experiences enhances our memories of those things. We should all try to meditate daily.
More grey matter
Meditation is a practice where you focus your attention on one thing for long enough to make it easier to concentrate on something else. Studies show that meditation helps improve memory and reduce stress levels. For example, a study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that older adults with high blood pressure who practised meditation showed increased activity in areas of the brain associated with learning and memory. Researchers believe that the increased grey matter in the hippocampus could explain why meditation improves memory.
The study included 40 participants over 60 who had been diagnosed with hypertension. Half of the group began practising meditation while the other half did not. After six months, researchers measured the thickness of the subjects’ hippocampi, which are located near the front of the brain and play a key role in forming memories. They discovered that those who practised meditation experienced significant growth in the size of their hippocampi. In addition, the brains of the subjects who practised meditation had more substantial activity in the left hemisphere, which is responsible for language processing and reasoning. The study suggests that meditation might help improve cognitive function in older adults.
When we are stressed out, our bodies release adrenaline into our bloodstream. Adrenaline makes us feel like we’re ready to fight or flee. But when we experience meditation, our brains send messages to our bodies telling them to relax. As a result, our sympathetic nervous systems slow down, and our blood pressure drops.
The next time you feel anxious about something, try doing some simple breathing exercises. You don’t need anything fancy; just take a few deep breaths and count slowly to five. If your anxiety doesn’t subside, try focusing on one thing at a time. For example, say, “I am grateful for my health,” while thinking about how healthy you are. Or think about your favourite hobby.
Meditation helps to release fewer stress hormones from the Amygdala.
Temporo Parietal Junction (TPJ)
The TPJ is located behind our forehead and above our eyes. This area is responsible for processing social information. We use it to understand how others feel about us. In meditation, we learn to focus on ourselves and what we want out of life. Meditation allows us to become aware of our thoughts and emotions. As we become more conscious of our inner world, we see things differently—our perception changes. We start to notice the subtleties of life.
Meditation helps us improve because it teaches us to control our thoughts and feelings. It gives us insight into our minds and hearts. It makes us more compassionate. It helps us develop empathy. And it leads to greater self-awareness.
In conclusion, meditation has proven to be a powerful tool for improving our lives. We can calm ourselves down and clear our minds by focusing on our Kundalini Shakthi. Meditation allows us to become aware of our thoughts and emotions without letting them control us. Kundalini Meditation will enable us to change our perspective and live happier lives.
Contact a nearby SKY Yoga master and learn Simplified Kundalini Yoga.
I practice it daily. You can practise it, too.
Let me know if you need any help.
I am here to help you succeed.
Be Blessed by the Divine!