Changes to the Brain - Deepstash

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The science behind meditation, and why it makes you feel better

Changes to the Brain

Buddhists have meditated for literally thousands of years. Buddhists are trying to hack their own minds, to harness them.

Only in recent times have neuroscientists discovered that meditation changes the brain physically.

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The science behind meditation, and why it makes you feel better

The science behind meditation, and why it makes you feel better

https://io9.gizmodo.com/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-and-makes-you-feel-b-470030863

io9.gizmodo.com

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Key Ideas

Mindfulness Meditation

Practitioners of mindful meditation focus their attention on only one thought. The goal is to be firmly affixed to the present moment. This typically means concentrating on the breath - observing each inhalation and exhalation - and without consideration to other thoughts.

Changes to the Brain

Buddhists have meditated for literally thousands of years. Buddhists are trying to hack their own minds, to harness them.

Only in recent times have neuroscientists discovered that meditation changes the brain physically.

Health Benefits

  • Meditation improves attention. Studies show that 20 minutes a day are sufficient to get beneficial results.
  • Meditation reduces stress after eight weeks of training.
  • Meditation has also been shown to increase levels of empathy.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Mindfulness

... is a collection of practices aimed at helping us to cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment.

Meditation sharpens your attention

Meditation helps to counter our tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve attention.

Larger randomized controlled trials are still needed to understand how meditation might work with other treatments to help people manage attention-deficit disorders.

Consistent meditation

Long-term, consistent meditation mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more sustainable way.

  • Practicing meditation reduces the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors.
  • Mindfulness practices help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. 

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Reducing Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stres...
Controlling Anxiety

Less stress leads to less anxiety.

Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Promoting Emotional Health

Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

  • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
  • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.

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Meditation
Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body.
Concentration meditation

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. 

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. 

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns.

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Dopamine Functions

Dopamine is an important chemical messenger that plays several important roles in the brain and body:

  • It influences moods and feelings of reward and motivation: When&nbs...
Increase dopamine levels naturally

They are generally well regulated by the body, but there are a few diet and lifestyle changes you can make to boost your levels naturally:

  • Eat lots of protein
  • Eat less saturated fat
  • Consume probiotics
  • Exercise often
  • Get enough sleep
  • Listen to music
  • Meditate
  • Get enough sunlight
Mindfulness meditation

It is based on Buddhist traditions and it's described as "the non-judgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment."

Sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed, focusing on yo...

How meditation works
It  works through a combination of several distinct mechanisms:
  • Attention regulation. Focused attention for an extended period of time.
  • Body awareness. Paying attention to surroundings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
  • Emotion regulation. Learning to observe your thoughts and accept them without reactive judgment while refraining from the habitual response.
  • Change in perspective on the self. 
Altering the brain
Altering the brain

In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.

You can reap the benef...

Mindfulness meditation

It typically refers to a practice for training your attention. It is an awareness that comes through paying attention in the moment, but non-judgmentally.

It involves sitting down with closed eyes and focussing on feeling your breath go in and out. When your attention starts to wander, you take note and bring your attention back to your breath.

Reduced amygdala activity

Meditation shows reduced activity in the amygdala, our brain’s threat detector. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it sets off the fight-flight-freeze response.

In a study, after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes per day over just one week, participants showed reduced amygdala reactivity only while they were engaged in mindfulness, suggesting they need regular practice.

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Loving-kindness meditation

Also known as Metta meditation; the goal is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everything.
During meditation, practitioners send and repeat messages of loving-kind...

Body scan or progressive relaxation

The goal is to notice tension and to allow it to be released.
Practitioners start at one end of their body, usually their feet, and work through the whole. They might tense and then relax muscles or they might visualize a wave moving over their body to release tension.

Mindfulness meditation

It encourages practitioners to notice their surroundings without judgement, instead of dwelling on the past or future.

Mindfulness can be done almost anywhere, even in a grocery store, for example.

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