Meditation is a growing part of the neurological research field. Techniques including MRI's and EEG's are used to measure the changes made to the body and brain through meditation. The top three reasons to add meditation to your weekly workout regimen are the release of serotonin, the rebuilding of grey matter and increasing concentration.
1) Bulk Up on Serotonin
In addition to healthy, many of us are seeking happiness. Happiness is found in a steady flow of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for a feeling of wellbeing. Working out your body regulates serotonin but going directly to the source has been found to be more potent.
According to the Journal of Neural Transmission, Meditation will increase serotonin and a whole panel of hormones that will decrease the “fight or flight response” while increasing feedback of the “rest and fulfillment response.”
The Dalai Lama states “It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short-term and the long-term for both yourself and others will come.” Meditating strengthens the brain to have a good attitude and bring about happiness.
2) Fast Results
All of us want fast results. According to Harvard, meditation rebuilds grey matter in 8 weeks. Grey matter is a tissue type that contains most of the brains functions such as perception, muscle movement, speech and more. Meditation is vitally flexing this tissue.
Harvard’s study included 30 minutes of meditation a day which yielded denser grey matter in the Hippocampus, the section of the brain active in learning and memory. Segments associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection also grew denser. All of these were monitored through MRI and spurred deeper research into the mechanisms of meditation is affecting.
3) Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together
Hebb’s Rule is a theory that describes the brain’s function similar to a muscle group. The electrical impulses that move through the neurons cause thought, bodily functions and even memories. As neurons are being used, they create connections that become pathways we know as mood, habit, and willpower. Pathways in our brain are created through repetition and can be altered.
None of us go to the gym and say its “focus muscle day” however, we can rewire our brain just as we retrain our body. Meditation is the practice of focusing on the self, removing external stimuli and homing in on subtle thoughts. If this was in your regimen once a week, you would notice changes in your physical workout as well. Increased focus, drive, and strength.
We use our brain to focus, think and more. Meditation is endurance training for the brain, making it strong to do all the work we can’t measure in reps, weight or maxing out.
How to Meditate
Meditation is a constant experiment. There is no one way to get into a meditative state. Many yogis suggest starting with a comfortable position then focusing on your inhale and exhalation. Counting breath length is a common way to start focusing on yourself. It is easy to lose concentration and begin thinking about other things. A good rule of thumb once your mind starts to wonder is to focus on the positive and when you stray from that, return to counting your breath.
Create the time to meditate. The research shows you can increase happiness, build grey matter and improve concentration. Don’t just take the research for face value, do your own. Don’t give up on meditation even when you feel there isn’t much coming from it. Remember, your brain exercise and health has goals and lulls just like your physical exercise does.
Build a better mind and body, they are connected and you will find further success by connecting them with exercise in motion and in thought.