Strokes Of Insight: Brain Series EP 2: Meditation & The Brain

Leyth Hampshire
November 30th 2020

EP 2: How Does Meditation Affect Brain Health? 🧘🏽

I suffered a ruptured aneurysm in my basal artery in my brain. The basilar artery is part of the blood supply system for the brain and central nervous system. Never truly understanding why this happened, has allowed me to get very curious about neurological health. I have always been interested in the more alternative methods of holistic well-being. Methods that have been used for more like centuries and have proven the test of time. That's why today's episode is all about how meditation affects the brain.

If you reading this you are likely someone who has experienced or been curious about forms of meditations. So I won't bore you with the basics fundamentals of what meditation is. Fortney and Bonus (2012) called meditation "one of the most important components of any health plan. Its unique ability to elicit physical ease and mental stability provides a foundation for healing and directly influences one's ability to meet the challenges resulting from illness and chronic disease" (p. 1051).

Meditation can be practised in many ways, including, deep breathing, focusing on different parts of the body, walking meditation, mindfulness meditation, and Transcendental Meditation! There are so many ways to just tune out from the world for a bit and then tune into your mind and body. That is why this is so profound. Let me tell you more about the science behind it:

Firstly, the brain has various types of electromagnetic waves that are connected to different mental states or states of consciousness. In meditation we enter the THETA brain wave state, this state allows us to access creativity and calmness. This is also the state that when you driving and suddenly you realise you forget the last 5 minutes because you were so zoned out, that is the THETA brain waves. This means new brain cells (neurons) can be created and connections between neurons can grow. INSANE!

This great article by Psych Central speaks more to the science behind how the brain reacts to different states of meditation. Meditation is clinically proven to reduce stress hormones, slow down the process of ageing and also increase emotional resilience. What a drug ey!

If you are someone who is into bio-hacking your meditation, understand how you can reach states of meditation faster then this article by Ben Greenfield talks all about different tools you can use. I've been using to the Holosync App and found it does wonders to send me off to slumber.

The last physiological benefit I want to mention is a study that was done. During meditation, the physical body goes into a state of deep muscle relaxation while the person remains awake and vigilant. Immune function improves as well. Lopez and Snyder (2011) note, "Improvements in immune system functioning or reversal of immune suppression may be an important marker of such physiological substrates of health and well-being" (p. 603). This is literally saying how meditation can improve the immune system, damn...our Governments should be saying 'stay home, meditate, save lives'.

Finally, alongside the physiological benefits, I can't finish this article without mentioning some of the 'psychological and emotional' benefits. Understanding the Ego and how meditation can allow us to silence all that mental chatter, be more present and be more mindful. This great article by Paul Chek goes into the emotional benefits of meditation, as well as how it can be used for mental recovery. Also, if you're up for it, one of my favourite books is called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. If you haven't, I cannot recommend it enough. Neither can the 18,000 Amazing Reviews.

The Practise

Each week, I am going to include a section called "The Practise" where I give you some actionable tips for you to do.

Practising Mindfulness Meditation

To practice mindfulness meditation, follow these guidelines:

  • Find a comfortable posture that embodies wakefulness (such as sitting on a cushion or comfortable chair, walking, standing, or lying down).
  • Choose a time of day when you are fairly awake. If you are alert, you might want to close your eyes. If you are drowsy or tired, you might want to keep your eyes open.
  • Choose a time to meditate during which you will not be interrupted. Turn off all electronic devices.
  • Begin by taking two or three deep breaths.
  • Let go of thoughts of the past and future, and allow your body and mind to relax.
  • Breathe normally during meditation.
  • Do not focus on anything specific but instead be fully aware of and alert to what is going on in the present moment.
  • If thoughts, sounds, feelings, or physical sensations enter your awareness, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
  • Sit quietly for 30 minutes and observe your breath.

Also, relax more and play this binaural beats playlist. Binaural beat therapy is an emerging form of sound wave therapy. It is really relaxing and can help with sleep and focus. I tend to play the focus playlist when I am meditating or working, it helps me get into the zone.

Anyways, enough for today. Let me know how you get on and I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you think someone who may benefit from this then please forward it on. The healthier people in this world, the better the world will be. Until next time where I will start to dive into brain foods.

Thank you for reading! If you got this email forwarded to you, click here and sign up to the newsletter so you don't miss the next one.

Ciao for now,Leyth

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