Let’s talk about the science, the question we would like to analyze here is “What happens inside our brain when we practice meditation?”
Mental health issue have always persisted in the human society since ages, but a lot of research have been carried out in last few year due to COVID-19. People now have an increased awareness about their mental well-being.
There are various kind of meditation out there but for our discussion we will stick to mindfulness meditation. Recall, mindfulness meditation is being aware of the present moment. This can come from focusing on breathing, body scan,… etc.
I am sure we all have heard the quotes that practise make a human perfect. Similarly, this rule applies to our brain. Practice makes the brain perfect. Our brain contains neurones (brain cells) that are transmitted and form neural connections between different parts of the brain. This neural networks grow in numbers and become stronger as we keep on practising meditation. Specially the connection to area of brain associated with positive feeling grows in number. Mindfulness meditation have showed increased in grey matter in certain parts of the brain, certainly the hippocampus, the part of brain that is responsible for memory and facilitating learning. (As cited in Boynton, 2020).
Mindfulness mediation teaches us to stay in the present moment, and it is quite natural that thoughts may arise but we just acknowledge them and go back to the practise. This does work in real life situation when we are not meditating, like we get negative thoughts we accept them and it’s easy to move to the positive side of things. Mindfulness mediation on regular basis has also shown reduction in the size of right amygdala, region responsible for stress, anxiety, and emotions (as cited in Stromberg, 2015). Hence, putting things in place, better relation to the positive part of the brain and detaching away from the negative part.
Meditation has been a highly researched area of science, and much research is still ongoing. One thing to note is that there is strong evidence that mindfulness is beneficial and that it facilitates positive changes inside our brain, but one size doesn’t fit all. It is important to keep in mind that practise is the key, as these changes aren’t evident overnight. As a result, as I always say, KEEP PRACTISING!