You certainly have heard that meditation is good for you but perhaps you have questioned the validity? There are hundreds of scientific studies that show meditation has a plethora of benefits some of the recent studies are quite incredible such that it can alter deep-seated traits in our brain patterns and character.
Neuroscientists have tested if these effects of meditation are just momentary and they have brought something very surprising for us! There are some scientific studies that have proved that mindfulness practices such as yoga decreased the level of depression, high blood pressure and anxiety. A scientific study has been conducted in Belgium involving around 400 students. Through the study, it was concluded that the students that have participated in the mindfulness program reported a reduction in the level of stress, depression and anxiety (Filip et al.,2013). Another incredible study conducted in the University of California has further indicated that the meditation is not only effective in treating patients with emotion regulation and social anxiety disorder but at the same time, it further decreases dysfunctional beliefs and ruminative thinking (Ramel et al., 2004).
Gamma brainwaves play an important role in day to day functioning of the brain and thus meditation. Gamma rays not only assist with improving and maintaining memory, they further function in such a manner that they help a person stop feeling stressed and depressed. Our brain is made up of millions of cells and the brain waves with the highest frequency are called the gamma waves and hence are critical to understanding the functioning of the human brain during different emotional states. Moreover, it has been observed associated with a feeling of greater well-being and improved cognition. The researchers have indicated the meditative students-group displayed high-levels of gamma brain wave activity concluding that meditation has some astonishing effects on altering an individual’s mood, cognition and functioning of the brain. It has been demonstrated that yogis have also elevated gamma oscillations for meditation practice. Arare gamma pattern in yogis has been observed as the standard feature of their everyday brain wave activity. In yogis the gamma oscillations are far more prominent of their brain activity make up. Ordinarily gamma waves from, say, a creative insight, last no longer than a fifth of a second—not the full minute seen in the yogis. Yogis are people who practice regular yoga, meditation, breathwork and pranayama.
Our Bend it like Buddha yoga studio in Portugal holds sessions for daily meditation during our retreats and programs and plays a significant part in helping people feel relieved after their everyday tensed activities and situations. In our 200-hour teacher training, we meditate at least 2x a day for two weeks during the Vinyasa and Ashtanga teacher training program and students of our yoga school often feel these wonderful benefits after the first meditation class. People do not need to be experts to apply. We warmly welcome beginners and seniors to come learn how to stretch themind and body with us! Soon we will be offering online meditation training for beginners-stay tuned…
Those who have studied the benefits of Gamma waves claim that meditation practices enable better processing of information and have further supported the healthy functioning of memory. In our upcoming documentary Just Breath to be released spring 2019; several experts and scientists also discuss Gamma and the incredible benefits of meditation. Gamma waves are considered as providing a significant role in unlocking the information about brain health including individualssuffering from head traumas.
Richie and Antoine while studying the gamma brain state have discussed that, considering the electrifying data in EEG frequency, deficiency in gamma waves could host a number of issues (Goleman et al., 2018). A decrease in the number of gamma waves is an indication that the individual is increasingly prone to depression, impulse, stress or lack of focus.Fascinatingly meditation practices help to regulate mood and anxiety disorders and considered to be effective enough to treat anxiety and depression much like antidepressant drug therapy. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has indicated the practice of open monitoring meditation explaining that the meditators are more likely to attend a moment to moment – stream of stimuli and meditation, in this way, has helped in reducing their stress level and anxiety. Seated meditation increased grey concentration in the brain, especially in those areas that involve learning and memory, regulations of emotions, sense of self and having a perspective. In a nutshell, meditation provides at least a short-term performance improvement. Long-term meditation, on the other hand, enhances the ability to generate gamma waves in the brain, improves focus, attention and ability to work in stressful conditions.
At the Bend it like Buddha Yoga school we recommend beginners to start with seated meditation 5 minutes daily and working up to longer lengths (60minutes).
You can sit on a bolster or have your back against the wall, set your device-timer. Close your eyes, hands interlaced below your belly and focus your attention on each inhale and exhale. Some students find it useful to bring focus to a mantra, color or symbol if they find concentrating on only the breath is too challenging. Avoid the temptation in engaging with daydreams or random thoughts. Meditation is a wonderful mini holiday that you can do whenever you feel tired, for a “pick me up” or about to do an anxious activity or meditate anywhere and anytime.
You can also try guided meditations on YouTube.
Here is a meditation for forgiveness I created and just posted on YouTube:
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Filip, R., James, G., Gucht, K., J. Williams, G.,(2013). School-Based Prevention and Reduction of Depression in Adolescents: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness Group Program. Mindfulness.
Goleman, D., Davidson, R., Goleman, A., Davidson, A. and Staff, L. (2018). How Meditation Changes Your Brain — and Your Life. [online] Lion’s Roar. Available at: https://www.lionsroar.com/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-and-your-life/ [Accessed 14 Dec. 2018].
Ramel, W., Goldin, P.R., Carmona, P.E. and McQuaid, J.R., 2004. The effects of mindfulness meditation on cognitive processes and affect in patients with past depression. Cognitive therapy and research, 28(4), pp.433-455.