Have you ever wondered what happens to your body or your brain when you sit down and try to meditate? Several studies suggest that meditation even in small doses can profoundly influence the remodelling of the brain.

It was not until recently discovered, what the scientists refer to as neuroplasticity- the ability of the brain to modify its connections and to form new synapses. In a recent study carried between meditators and non-meditators, it was found that the latter had more grey matter (a CNS tissue where cell bodies, dendrites and synapses lie) in regions of the brain such as the hippocampus that are associated with memory, learning and consciousness. This implies that meditators brains are better at controlling attention, making decisions, storing information and managing emotions. This can simply be achieved if you practice meditation. Focusing your attention on your breath and cultivating feelings such as self acceptance and love will immediately activate regions of your brain and you will feel more connected to yourself and the environment.

Other studies support that meditation can have a positive impact in the regulation of stress hormones. When we get stressed adrenal glands release epinephrine and cortisol in the amygdala, also known as the “fear centre”, a part of the brain that is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. This brain region is highly associated with depression and anxiety. Measurements of the levels of hormones such as cortisol, thyroid-stimulating hormone and testosterone during and after meditation showed that these are significantly lowered. In this way meditation helps the brain and the body to protect itself and to prepare for any stressful situation by practising calmness in the longterm. One of the aims of meditation is to accept and deal with all thoughts and feelings including the negative ones that you might be facing at the moment by simply closing your eyes and focusing on yourself. Our body and brain adapt and react on our behavioural patterns and it depends only on ourselves to change those. Perhaps the greatest potential of meditation is in the treatment of individuals suffering from hypertension. In developing countries, there are ongoing therapies based on several meditation techniques independent of any administered drugs.

While it is still an “unexplored” (in academic research standards) area, where further scientific studies need to be carried out efficiently and effectively in order to consider meditation as a therapeutic treatment, the benefits in the brain and body are widely known and accepted.

Anastasia Mallopoulou • BSc Biomedical Science at University of Sussex

Athina Tamaresi
Athina Tamaresi
Head Teacher INEA • YOGA

Yoga to me has been a wonderful journey, helping me divide my sense of self from my often busy mind and deeply, truly accept and connect with me as a whole. I teach to support and encourage people to connect with themselves.

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