Keep reading for FREE
Meditation and mindfulness induce a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. Various studies demonstrate the practice can help relieve stress — as well as manage anxiety, reduce inflammation, and improve memory and attention, to boot. Such striking results have many doctors, across specialties, prescribing meditation just as they would an anti-depressant or blood pressure medication . But it remains unclear just how meditation confers so many health benefits.
Tibetan monks meditate for hours upon hours each week. Their devotion to their religious traditions makes them experts in the practice of meditation.
Turns out those experts have a lot to teach us about how sustained mindfulness affects the brain.
Bin He, a neuroengineer at Carnegie Mellon University, decided to look at the brains of Tibetan monks. In a previous study. He and colleagues saw that individuals with meditation experience were better able to control a computer cursor with their mind than those without it.
“We went to Tibet and measured activity in the brains of monks who had, on average, 15 years of meditation experience — between five and 35 years,” he said. “We then compared those results to native Tibetans who had never meditated before.”
He and his colleagues found that long-term, active meditative practice decreases activity in the default network. This is the brain network associated with the brain at rest — just letting your mind wander with no particular goal in mind — and includes brain areas like the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. What’s more, the longer a monk had been practicing, the bigger the reduction in activity the researchers observed.
“It seems the longer you do meditation, the better your brain will be at self-regulation,” said He. “You don’t have to consume as much energy at rest and you can more easily get yourself into a more relaxed state.”
There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done to understand the type and amount of practice required to get an effect — and it likely will be different for each person. And with so many ways to do so — from workshops to smart phone apps — Davidson says the best kind of meditation is simply the one that you are most likely to stick with.
“Think of it as a form of personal mental hygiene — almost like tooth brushing,” he said. “Humans didn’t evolve brushing their teeth twice a day. It’s a learned skill. Your brain is just as precious as your teeth. So, it’s important to take the time to learn a practice and stick to it.”
MORE LIKE THIS
Ready for the next level?
Read Like a Pro
Explore the World’s
Take Your Ideas
Just press play and we take care of the words.
No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.
2 Million Stashers
Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.
Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.
This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!
Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.
I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!
Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.
Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.
Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.
Read & Learn
Access to 200,000+ ideas
Access to the mobile app
Unlimited idea saving & library
Unlimited listening to ideas
Downloading & offline access
Claim Your Limited Offer
Get Deepstash Pro
75% OFF | 1-Year Pro Subscription