Contrary to the popular stereotype, meditation isn’t just for hairy, granola-loving hippies. In fact, the science is pretty conclusive: Meditation can significantly benefit all brains. Shannon Odell, Inverse’s resident neuroscientist, hung out with the founder of the New York Meditation Center for the day in order to find out more about all of these benefits.
One of the most prominent advantages of meditation is in memory and attention. Longtime meditators show increased performance in cognitive skills for focus-based tasks. Even among Alzheimer’s patients, just eight weeks of meditation showed significantly increased memory function and cognitive performance among subjects. So, if you’re finding it hard to remain focused on this video, maybe it’s time for you to take up meditation.
Meditation can also lead to an increase in the ability to emotionally regulate. While emotional regulation may sound easy enough on paper, in practice, it can be incredibly difficult and have a significant impact on your mental health. The practice of meditation, however, leads to greater control of activity in the amygdala — also known as the area of the brain that controls how we respond to potentially threatening situations — and in turn, the intensity of our emotions.
For beginning meditators, claiming to not feel anything is a pretty common line of thought. Studies have shown, however, that even when subjects thought nothing was happening, there was still significant brain activity. The act of meditation has proven that sitting still and trying to clear your head will ultimately lead to more positive effects on the brain.
It can seem difficult to get into the right mindset, but Michael Miller of the NYMC says that “noise is no barrier to meditation,” so don’t worry if you have loud roommates or live directly under train tracks. What’s important is learning how to meditate on a regular basis.
So turn down the lights, sit up straight, and join Shannon on this latest episode of Your Brain on (Blank) as she tries to better her noggin through the ancient practice of meditation.