Does Meditation Make You Smarter?
Meditation is almost as old as human civilization. Whilst so many customs have been swept away with time, meditation has remained. Nowadays, it's a health-positive discipline you can find anywhere in modern life.
We know that meditating has many advantages, from relieving stress to supporting conscious decision making, banishing harmful habits, and improving our emotional awareness.
However, does meditation make you smarter - and could it be the key to living a longer and healthier life?
This guide will explain some of the science behind mindful practices and, specifically, why they might be the golden ticket to a lifetime of enhanced brain power.
How Does Meditation Impact Your Brain?
There are three components of mindfulness, all working together to provide the substantial health benefits of meditation.
Those components are:
While these are primarily emotional characteristics, they impact everything we do, say, believe, think, and feel.
Therefore, a meditation practice that enhances your intention, attention, and attitude will directly influence your brain function.
So - does meditation make you smarter? The answer is that it just might!
Enhancing Intelligence Through Meditation
Thousands of scientific studies have sought to quantify the impact of meditation and mindfulness on our brain function. Here are some core pieces of evidence that demonstrate how meditation may improve your coping mechanisms and brain function:
- Meditating thickens the prefrontal cortex, which deals with higher brain functions such as concentration and decision-making.
- Aging inevitably deteriorates our speed at which our brain processes information, but meditation supports a slower aging process, helping our minds work faster for longer.
- The brain is constantly changing, reorganizing due to variances in behavior and lifestyle. Which means neurons continually adjust to compensate for environmental changes - and we can direct those adaptations to our benefit.
- Mindful attention is like a muscle that gets stronger when it's used more often, allowing us to change our brain's shape as those nerve cells adjust.
Brain function can adapt in as little as eight weeks. A Harvard Medical School neuroscience study identified that meditators aged between forty and fifty had the same brain power as the average person in their twenties.
Why? Because they meditated regularly and maintained a healthy frontal cortex.
The Background Of Mindful Meditation
If you're wondering where meditation comes from, let's run through a brief history of this worldwide practice!
It's tricky to pinpoint the exact date meditation originated since scholars have contrasting opinions.
The complexity arises because meditation has been called many different names, such as:
- Dhyāna or Jhāna in Indian literature (mind training).
- Shou Jing in early Chinese techniques (guarding tranquility).
- Lasuach in the Torah (part of the Hebrew Bible).
We know that research indicates that some of the oldest written records referring to meditation practices were found in India, dating back to 1,500 BCE.
Although many of these meditation forms relate to religions, faiths, and belief systems, the beneficial effects of meditation are now found in many cultures and societies that don't have links to specific spiritualities or belief structures.
Although academics debate the exact origin of meditation, modern science strongly indicates that it can enhance our intelligence and allow us to better tap into our brains' powerful (and natural) abilities.
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