Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, with roots in ancient Eastern cultures. This has grown in popularity in the Western world in recent years as a tool for relaxation and stress relief. However, its advantages extend far beyond simply calming the mind. Studies have shown that with regular practice, it can improve cognitive abilities in a variety of ways.
Effects of Meditation to Your Cognitive Abilities
1. Enhanced Memory
Memory is essential for many aspects of daily life, from recalling important information to remembering names and faces. Harvard Medical School researchers discovered that meditation can actually increase the thickness of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory. Hence, meditation can help improve memory by strengthening the neural connections in the brain.
2. Increased Creativity
Meditation allows your mind to relax and let go of external distractions, making it easier to think creatively and generate new ideas. This claim is supported by a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology which concluded that meditation can improve divergent thinking, or the ability to generate creative ideas.
3. Improved Focus and Attention
With so many distractions in our daily lives, it can be difficult to stay focused on the task at hand. But did you know that Buddhist monks who have been meditating for years have increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for attention and concentration? Regular meditation practice can help train your brain to stay focused and reduce the amount of time you spend being distracted.
4. Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can impair cognitive abilities such as memory and decision-making. However, studies have shown that as short as 8 weeks of regular meditation can shrink the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for processing emotions like fear and anxiety.Therefore, you can reduce stress and help your brain function optimally by practicing meditation.
5. Improved Decision Making
Studies have shown that people who meditate regularly have better decision-making abilities, which may be due to increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and decision-making.This means that when you meditate, you may find yourself making better decisions and avoiding mistakes.
6. Enhanced Emotional Regulation
A study conducted by the University of California discovered that meditation can reduce activity in the default mode network, the part of the brain responsible for self-referential thoughts and mind-wandering, resulting in better emotional regulation. As you reap this benefit of meditation, you’ll be able to remain calm and focused in stressful situations because you’ll have greater emotional control.
7. Improved Sleep
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, mindfulness meditation can improve sleep quality in older adults who are sleep deprived. Hence, meditating makes it easier to get the rest you require to perform well. You may find that you wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to face the day.