In today’s fast-paced world, it is more important than ever to occasionally slow down and practice mindfulness. The art of meditation is an ancient practice, proving to show many benefits in not only helping us find our inner calm, but also in positively altering our brain chemistry organically over time.
Meditation is an exercise of the mind, like fitness is exercise of the body. Through meditation, you are able to strengthen positive neural connections which helps in alleviating stress, maintaining brain health, and providing sustainable well-being. This is possible due to the process of neuroplasticity, which allows the brain to dynamically adapt over time. Studies show that by meditating consistently, the prefrontal cortex thickens, solidifying our decision making skills, concentration and awareness. Furthermore, it is shown that our empathy and compassion towards others also increase, allowing one to achieve a greater sense of happiness and meaningful connection with others. Through regularly practicing mindfulness, you can maintain a healthy brain.
When the prefrontal cortex is activated during meditation, various neurotransmitters are activated. These chemicals include serotonin and endorphins, known as happy hormones; cortisol, which reduces stress; and GABA, which provides a sense of calmness. These key brain chemicals work together to promote your overall brain health as you meditate.
Not only does meditation alter hormone and neurotransmitter levels in the brain, but the practice also modifies brain waves and electric impulses. Through the art of meditation, you will be able to control the energy you give to your surroundings. Practicing mindfulness can trigger your alpha brain waves, which are active when your body is relaxed. Consistent practice will result in increasing your focus when tackling time-bound tasks. Additionally, these alpha waves can result in an increase of gamma waves, which increase your levels of concentration.
In addition to all of the benefits mentioned above, meditation also has measurable effects on your brain structure. Meditation induces structural plasticity in your gray matter, which protects you against mood-related disorders; thickens your prefrontal cortex, which makes you a better decision-maker; decreases the volume of your amygdala, which helps to make you less angry and control your emotional reactions; and increases activity in your hippocampus, which improves memory and learning capability.
Overall, meditation has a myriad of positive effects on your brain. Your brain can reap the full benefits of meditation by introducing aromatherapy as you meditate. Take your favorite candle or essential oil diffuser, find a calm environment, and tune in to your brain to practice mindfulness.