Mindfulness Can Actually Change Your Brain

meditation practice

Studies have long shown that the brain can and does change based on our experiences. It makes sense that learning new things would cause us to think differently. As we grow and change as people, so does our brain and the way it functions. This is called neuroplasticity — lasting change in the structure and function of the brain.

Designed To Adapt

Lifestyle and behavior can play a big role in our brain’s development over time. It is the same reason mind games are encouraged as we age to keep brain function and learning on point. The brain is designed to adapt constantly.

Neuroscientists at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison determined that people can train their brains to change, and new ways of thinking about things can change the brain for the better.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation on a regular basis—by regular I mean you can start small with five minutes a day for a few weeks then gradually increase to 30 minutes a day—causes you to think more positively about life and to attain a sense of calm. 

Attain A Sense of Calm

The more people make meditation part of their daily lives, the more their non-meditative life starts to look like meditation, according to researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Studies have shown that the amygdala, the brain’s “fight or flight” center where much of our fearful and anxious emotions are located, decreases in brain cell volume after a mindfulness practice. The same research also shows that mindfulness practices strengthen brain functions like attention and concentration and decreases reactivity, giving us the ability to think more calmly about an event or situation. 

Harvard researcher Dr. Sarah Lazar gained interest in the topic of yoga, mindfulness and meditation and the impact on brain function after she took a few yoga classes to stretch her muscles. What she found was a greater sense of calm in everyday life. Her research, using MRIs and other brain imaging tools, found that it takes just eight weeks of mindfulness practice for 30 minutes a day to achieve lasting changes in the brain.

Create Measurable Change

Overall mindfulness can be a powerful tool for our brains when used on a consistent basis. It measurably changes our brains to take a step back and respond to situations with a clear head instead of a mindless reaction. Let’s not forget about all the other benefits mindfulness practice can have including stress reduction, lower blood pressure, and greater levels of happiness.

The psychologists at Wellness Psychological Services are uniquely and expertly specialized in helping you learn to understand and apply mindfulness skills to help enhance your well-being. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us for an appointment anytime.

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