Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is a common practice believed to help reduce anxiety and stress, as well as boost emotional well-being.  Researchers are looking into how the brain functions during meditation and whether certain techniques have different effects.

There are numerous meditation methods; mindfulness, mantra, and guided meditation amongst others.  But according to researchers, all techniques can be put into one of two groups, concentrative meditation and nondirective meditation.

Concentrative meditation as a technique that focuses on breathing or on certain thoughts, which in turn, block out other thoughts.  Nondirective meditation is described as a method that focuses on breathing or on a meditation sound. But during this practice, the mind can wander.

The studies participants had MRI’s while they were resting, while the practiced on nondirective meditation technique and on concentrative technique.

They found that when participants practiced nondirective meditation, they had higher brain activity in areas associated with processing self-related thoughts and feelings than when they were resting. But when subjects practiced concentrative meditation, their brain activity was nearly the same as when they were resting.

These findings suggest that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than concentrated mediation.  This area of the brain is at its highest level of activity at rest, so it’s remarkable that a mental task like nondirective meditation results in even high activity in this area of the brain than regular rest.

As well as its potential for reducing stress and boosting emotional well-being, meditation has been associated with other benefits, such as better sleep and even improvement of memory loss for Alzheimer’s disease.  So slow down and breath deeply.


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