During this month of stress awareness, we couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn't delve into meditation and its effects on the brain. We’ve broken down meditation into the verifiable studies and facts to see exactly why it is so consistently talked about and recommended for stress relief.
In a Washington Post interview, Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar breaks down how meditation affects the brain in a series of five sections, all related to maintaining healthy brain function.
This area of the brain focuses on learning, but it also has emotional regulators that are associated with self awareness and empathy. "Research confirms that as the cortical thickness of the hippocampus grows in volume through meditation, gray-matter density increases and all of these important functions are nurtured."
This part of the brain is connected with wandering thoughts and self relevance. So the larger and stronger the posterior cingulate is, the more focused and realistic your mind and sense of self is. With meditation's main focus being to focus on the present moment and let go of control, this part of the brain is exercised and made to be more dense.
This section of the brain is always busy regulating brain activity during essential functions included but not limited to sleep, facial expressions, processing sensory input, and basic physical functioning. During meditation, this part of the brain is worked and strengthened, as are all the resulting functions.
Temporo Parietal junction
The tempero parietal junction or TPJ handles our sense of perception. it helps us with compassion and the act of putting yourself in other people's shoes. Essentially, this part of the brain helps us be the kind of people we want to be! Meditations benefits to this part of the brain, as well as the general stress reduction
Unlike the other parts of the brain, this one actually shrinks with meditation- which is good! This section of the brain is responsible for fear, anxiety, and general stress. The smaller this section is, the less it dictates our flight or flight response. No wonder we feel so calm and refreshed after meditating!
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