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The brain in meditation

During the holiday season we tend to run arround, making sure we do things to make everyone else happy.

As sweet as the thought of bringing cheer to our friends and family is, dont forget to take some time for yourself.

Giving is a wonderful and satisfying thing, but it also means that you apply that concept to yourself.

So lets talk about meditation.

Including meditation in your daily life has so many benefits, starting from making calmer desicions and not re-act out of frustration or pressure to simply feeling more in tune with your emotions and thoughts.

It is not possible to control our thoughts but it is very possible to be more mindful of the feelings we have in certain moments.

What acutally happends in our brain when we meditate:

In the first few minutes of meditation, your ventromedial prefrontal cortex lights up. When you start to meditate, your brain jumps from one thought to the next. One of the reasons for this “monkey mind” is that this part of the brain is always active—unless we learn how to activate other areas (which is what a regular meditation practice does).

Once you start to focus your attention, your lateral prefrontal cortex lights up. Whether that focused attention is on your breath, a mantra, chakras, or a soothing voice guiding your meditation, your lateral prefrontal cortex activates—and overrides the “me” thoughts in favor of a more rational, logical, balanced position.

Which helps you settle into your meditation. Even better, the more you meditate, the more active your lateral prefrontal cortex becomes—and the quieter your ventromedial cortex (the “me” center that has a tendency to catastrophize) gets.

After 8 to 12 weeks of meditating daily, your dorsomedial prefrontal cortex gets activated. This is a part of the brain that helps us develop empathy. It’s why the more we meditate, the more compassionate we become in life.

As we practice our asanas and pranyama towards the goal of sitting longer and longer in our meditation, without the flucations of the mind or the disruption of the physical body, we can introduce short daily meditations to include the practice of sitting still and going inward.

Personally I find that the practice of yin yoga gives us a soft introduction in a meditative state without the mind drifting off in the unconfortable corners where we are sometimes scared to face ourselves.

To keep this short, lets take a break every day and declutter our minds for the sake of our brains health (as well as the people arround us).

Why not give eachother the best christmas gift there is. Time.



Anatomical input by, Rebecca Gladding, MD, co-author of You Are Not Your Brain and Yogajournal

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