Top of Mind
Something for Your Mind
By Crown Affair
Let’s talk meditation. Maybe you love it, maybe you can’t get into it, maybe someone told you to just meditate when you were anxious and it turned you off the entire concept. (It happens.) So many people talk about meditation and its benefits, but what does the practice actually do?
Though science is just starting to catch up with research and data, meditation has been around for centuries. The oldest documentation of the practice dates back to India 5,000 to 3,500 BCE depicting people seated with closed eyes. While practitioners have known for ages that meditation’s effects extend far beyond the obvious relaxation of the mind and body, studies are starting to explore possible links between meditation and improving attention, coping with illness and pain, and actually changing the makeup of our brains over time.
In a 2012 study conducted at the NIH, researchers compared brain scans from adults who meditate and those who don’t. They found the scans of those who had meditated for many years had more folds in their outer layer of their brains, which may increase their ability to process information. Research from the same year found that meditation affects the amygdala (where we process emotions) differently even when the person is not actively meditating at the time.
A recent Yale study found that meditation decreases activity in our brain’s “me center,” or default mode network (DMN). DMN is where our minds go when we’re not thinking, leading to worrying, ruminating, and focusing exclusively on ourselves. This also helps to decrease anxiety in the mind, which can have physical effects as well. Some have even claimed meditation helped them regrow hair quicker after stress-induced hair loss (see last week’s post on telogen effluvium for more), but that’s something you’ll have to try for yourself…
𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘢 𝘈𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪ć 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘜𝘭𝘢𝘺, ‘𝘙𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘛𝘪𝘮𝘦’ (1977)