How To Increase Brain Power With Meditation
Meditation has been around for many centuries now but it has only relatively recently gained popularity here in the Western world. Every day more and more people are discovering the numerous benefits associated with practicing meditation. So if you would like to know how to increase brain power with meditation, read on….
What Is Meditation?
Traditionally, meditation was most frequently practiced within various different religions, as a way to alter everyday consciousness to reach a state of receptiveness to the teachings and goals of the tradition that was being taught. It is essentially a way of quieting the mind in order to reach a state of inner peace.
Benefits Of Meditation On The Brain
This is the amazing part! Scientists have been conducting extensive research on the benefits of meditation on the brain, and the results are pretty astonishing.
One of the most notable studies was carried out at Harvard University by a group of neuroscientists, headed by Sara Lazar, and published in the Harvard Gazette in January 2011. This was the first study of its kind to document changes in the brain’s grey matter over a period of time.
Sara Lazar enrolled 16 study participants to take part in this study. Using magnetic resonance images (MRI), the participants brains were scanned 2 weeks prior to the study. They then took part in an 8 week program of mindfulness meditation, after which their brains were again scanned using (MRI) technology.
One of the major things that happens to our brains as we meditate is that the brain slows down and stops processing so much information. The Beta waves in our brain usually indicate all the information that we are processing at any given time and these can be seen on an MRI scan.
When we stop processing so much information this results in a decrease of Beta waves. It was noted that Beta wave activity had
markedly decreased in all of the study participants. Looking a bit more closely, these were the areas of the brain where changes were most notable.
This is the area of the brain responsible for reasoning, logic, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness. It is the most highly evolved part of our brains. During meditation, the frontal lobe slowed down and basically went offline.
This is the area of the brain where we process all sensory information about the world around us, orienting us in time and space. During meditation, the parietal lobe completely slows down.
The thalamus is the gatekeeper for the senses, focusing our attention by funneling some sensory data deeper into the brain, and stopping other signals from going any further. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle.
This area acts as the brains sentry, receiving incoming stimuli and putting the brain on alert ready to respond. Meditating turns down the response to outside stimuli.
In addition to these findings, it was noted in previous studies that the amounts of grey matter in the brains of those who meditate is increased.
The following is a YouTube video taken in 2011, in which Sara Lazar explains the findings of their study.
Pretty great right! Just imagine being able to actually slow down the rate at which your brain ages!
Consider all of the other benefits as well that go hand in hand with a regular meditation practice. Like decreased stress, lower blood pressure, increased attention span, increased immunity and resistance to disease, improved brain function, improved sleep, feeling more connected, increased compassion and understanding, reduced ageing and the ability to appreciate life more. The list just goes on and on!
Study On Effects Of Meditation On Multi-Tasking
Another study carried out in 2012, by David M. Levy, Jacob O. Wobbrock, and Marilyn Ostergren, all from the Information School at University of Washington and Alfred W. Kaszniak, Dept. of Psychology, University of Arizona, set out to determine the effects of meditation on the multi-tasking behaviour of knowledge workers.
They formed 3 groups of human resources personnel. Each group had 12-15 people. They tested each group to establish a baseline. The test given was a relatively naturalistic and intentionally stressful one to test their multi-tasking abilities.
This group underwent an 8 week training course on mindfulness meditation.
The second group were used as a control group and received no training for the 8 weeks, after which they also underwent 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation training to establish if they also would yield the same results as the first group.
This group were given 8 weeks training in body relaxation.
They then re-tested all the participants using the same test as previous.
It was found that only those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as self-reporting less negative emotions after task performance, as compared to the other 2 groups.
Both the meditation and body relaxation groups showed improved memory for the tasks they performed.
They concluded that there is evidence that attention training through meditation improves aspects of multi-tasking behavior. Meditation may effect positive changes in the multi-tasking practices of computer based knowledge workers.
Types of Meditation
There are many different types of meditation. Here are some of the more well known ones:
When you listen to a teacher or an audio recording of the teacher’s voice and are guided through the meditation experience. Those
who are starting to meditate for the first time often find this type of meditation suitable for their needs.
This is when you focus on your breath or an object, like the flame on a candle. The idea being that if your concentration wanders, you return your focus to your breath/ object.
In this type of meditation you allow yourself to notice all the things that are going on around you, but you remain calm and do not react to them. This allows the meditator to become more aware of the energy flowing all around us.
This type of meditation focuses on your breathing and incorporates a body scan. You become aware of your breath and focus on taking deep breaths in and out. Then you scan your body from your toes up, releasing any tension and stress that you are holding on to.
This type of meditation can often be done while walking, washing or eating.
In this type of meditation you repeat a mantra or series of Sanskrit words silently to yourself. This is to help you to focus during meditation instead of focusing on your breath.
These are just a few examples of the types of meditation that you can do, but there are many more.
The following is an excerpt from the Dalai Lama’s book ” Contemplative Mind, Hard Science”,
” Until recently, scientists believed that after adolescence, the hardware of the human brain becomes relatively unchangeable. But new discoveries in neurobiology have uncovered a remarkable potential for changeability in the human brain even in adults as old as I am. At the Mind and Life Conference in Dharamsala in 2004, I learned of the growing sub-discipline of neuroscience dealing with this question,called “brain plasticity.”
This phenomenon suggests to me that traits that were assumed to be fixed- such as personality, disposition, even moods – are not permanent and that mental exercises or changes in the environment can affect these traits. Already experiments have shown that experienced meditators have more activity in the left frontal lobe, the part of the brain associated with positive emotions such as happiness, joy, and contentment.
These findings imply that happiness is something we can cultivate deliberately through mental training that affects the brain. The Buddha himself argued that if one wishes to avoid certain types of results, one needs to change the conditions that give rise to them. So if one changes the conditions of one’s state of mind (which normally gives rise to particular habitual patterns of mental activity), one can change the traits of one’s consciousness and the resulting attitudes and emotions.”
Boost Brain Power And Memory Naturally
One of the things that people don’t realize is that it’s not necessary to spend a long time meditating. A few minutes whenever you can fit it in can be very beneficial to you and your overall health.
It isn’t necessary to sit cross-legged either. You can meditate quietly while waiting in the car for the kids on the school run, for a few minutes in bed before you get up in the morning, while walking the dog or running on the beach, or even doing the dishes. It doesn’t have to be difficult, formal or hard to do.
It’s all about being aware of yourself and your surroundings, and just being in each moment as it comes to you. Have fun trying out different types of meditation. You will then find the ones that suit you and your lifestyle best.
I personally favor mindfulness as I find it quick and easy to incorporate into my busy schedule. I also enjoy guided and transcendental meditations when I have the time to fit them in.
Deepak Chopra together with Oprah Winfrey, regularly run a FREE 21 day Meditation Experience online.
Each day consists of a 20 minute session hosted by them both, and includes a Sanskrit mantra for you to focus on while you meditate. If you miss a session you can catch up, as you have 5 days to listen to each recording.
I truly enjoy these 21 Meditation Experience’s every time, and can personally guarantee that it is well worth your while to get involved and take part.
You can find out when the next 21 Day Meditation Experience is going to take place by signing up for regular email updates at
Another great place to check out is The Chopra Center, where you will find lots of resources in the form of wonderful informative articles, and also free meditations to listen to. Here is the link The Chopra Center
So go on and increase your brain power!
Love & Light to you,
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