The Role of Mindfulness in Neuroplasticity
Proponents of mindfulness meditation have long thought that meditation can actually cause physical changes in the brain; as it turns out, they were right! Mindfulness meditation can, in fact, change the brain through neuroplasticity.
Jessica Cassity (n.d.) writes this about mindfulness meditation and neuroplasticity:
“With meditation, your brain is effectively being rewired: As your feelings and thoughts morph toward a more pleasant outlook your brain is also transforming, making this way of thought more of a default… The more your brain changes from meditation, the more you react to everyday life with that same sense of calm, compassion, and awareness.”
The more mindful we become and the more we meditate, the more our brain adapts to this state as our default state. This is why mindfulness meditation has such a big impact on regular practitioners even outside of their dedicated practice time; they have taught their brain to be mindful, calm, at peace, and centered all throughout the day, not just when they are actively meditating.
Using Meditation to Promote Neuroplasticity
To learn more about the connection between meditation and neuroplasticity and to take advantage of the neuroplasticity that mindfulness meditation brings, check out this PDF from Harvard Health.
In it, you’ll learn about some recent studies on the subject and find guided meditations, yoga sequences, and other exercises that can help you gain the benefits outlined.
You can also watch a great TED Talk from Sara Lazar on how meditation can change the brain here.
Several areas of the brain actually become larger after meditation, such as the hippocampus and the fight-or-flight response system in the amygdala. The science behind meditation’s effect on the brain is enough to invite you, our reader, to take three cleansing breaths before continuing with this article!