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Meditation supports the Brain & Mental Health

Updated: May 30, 2022

Meditation and our Brain


Hey everyone and welcome to the many modes of meditation supporting our brain and meantlth health. There are many modes of meditation. I for one, thought you sit with your legs crossed…if you can cross your legs. Sit straight and hold your hand on your knees and close your eyes, listen to some soothing music with your eyes closed. Well…that is only part of it. After diving deeper into why mediation is so important, I came across several modes of meditation, which I am going to share with you.

Before we get started. Maybe you are like me from my opening statement. You may also feel this way about meditation. You hear the word “meditation” and you experience one or more of the following thoughts: sit quietly for 20 minutes. WHAT!? HECK NO!? NOT POSSIBLE!? Do I even have 20 minutes to do this!? Where will I find 20 minutes in my day to meditate? There is no way I can sit quietly for that long. Seriously, 20 minutes with no thoughts. Nope, not happening. How do people do it? My mind will not shut down. Nope…this is not for me.

A dose of honesty. I said all those statements and probably more. Maybe you have a few that I didn’t share. For most of us this is where our mediation voyage starts. Let's disembark this voyage of saying meditation is not for us and embark on a new voyage, saying to ourselves meditation is for me and it will be fun and easy!

What comes to mind this very moment as I am writing for you. The meditation scene from the movie Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts. You know the scene I am referring to if you watched the movie. (For me I’ve watched the movie a dozen times. Yep, slight detour…okay back to blogging) If I recall her meditation was for 2 hours. WHAT!? Yes, 2 hours. I will not do the scene justice. You must watch the scene. Oh my goodness the scene is too good not to share. And yes, I watched it a few times as I write. Here is the link for those who want to remember the scene and for those who have not seen the scene I am referring too. Enjoy! And I want to know…is this you!?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alyapidLB34


Okay...is this how you feel about meditation!?

Another dose of honesty: That was me! Yes, I was her! I have changed my tune about meditation. It happened over time, I practiced and learned about meditation, the benefits of meditation especially the effects on our brains.

A few quotes from the scene in the movie Eat Pray Love that are so good to remember when it is time to practice your meditation will find them throughout this piece.


“The meditation room is within”

 

What is Meditation


First, let’s define what meditation is: A practice that an individual uses to focus their mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.

How does Meditation effect the brain?

The brain, and how we’re able to mold it, is nothing short of amazing.

In our brain, meditation affects the:

-Lateral prefrontal cortex - responsible for emotional responses, habits, and logic.

-Medial prefrontal cortex - processes information related to you, like your future, your perspective, and feelings of empathy you have for others. Often referred to as the “Me Center.”

-Insula - monitors bodily sensations and involved in the “gut feelings” we all experience.

-Amygdala - the fear center that affects the “fight-or-flight” response.


As you can see meditation is important for our brain and mental wellness! Who knew!? I didn't at first, but I do now! These facts play a big factor in my daily meditation routine. But there is more!

 

Many Modes of Meditation


Meditation & Anxiety

The more you meditate, the more your anxiety decreases, because the neural pathways that link those upsetting sensations to the “Me Center” are declining. In other words, you’re more able to ignore intense feelings of fear, anger, and anxiety in general.

Meditation VS Mindfulness

The difference between meditation and mindfulness have been long debated because they’re very similar. The main difference between the two: Meditation is a term that encompasses the practice of acknowledging thoughts in order to self-regulate it. To achieve purposeful meditation, one must practice many techniques and tactics, one of which is mindfulness.


Mindfulness, in a nutshell, is the act of focusing on being in the present and being aware of your surroundings in a grateful manner, as often as possible.


Everyday Minfulness

You can practice mindfulness in many ways. You can be mindful of your food, giving it your full attention, noticing the smell, taste, and temperature as you eat it.

Practice with a piece of chocolate, let it sit, melting on your tongue. Take a moment to taste the sweet notes and flavors.

How many ways can you describe the chocolate?

Never too much mindfulness

Mindfulness creates space to let new information in and to allow us to see how it relates to what we already know. It’s a way to let go of all judgments and just exist.

Here are a few ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day:

Create new patterns - Try “if this, then that” messages for yourself. For instance, “if you see the office door, then take a deep breath” before you start your workday. Or, “if the phone rings, then sit up straight and take a breath.” Each intentional action will strengthen your brain and create healthy habits.


Wake up with a purpose - As soon as you wake up before you touch your phone, take three long, nourishing breaths through your nose and out through your mouth. Ask yourself what your intention is for that day based on what you need to accomplish. Is there any way that you can fit in some self-care to support those goals?


If you don’t love it, don’t eat it! Take your first three bites mindfully, experiencing the taste, texture, flavor, and aftertaste. Are you feeling true enjoyment from this food? If not, try something that brings you joy, and savor it slowly.