Anatomy 101: Biology of the brain behind meditation

You should sit on your cushion to help your brain remain healthy as you get older, and boost memory and focus. Here’s how.

A beautiful young woman meditates in yoga asana Padmasana – Lotus pose on the wooden deck in the autumn park.; IMAGE SOURCE – Shutterstock / sandsun

Human beings are able to assess the past and plan for the future, which is the only superpower of those in the animal kingdom. Sadly, the development comes at an emotional cost— both regrets and fears, mostly due to the fact that they are not at present. Research shows that the more you wander (not present), the less happy you are. In reality, 47 percent of the time they wake is spent mentally on the journey.

Luckily, through meditation, you will gain consciousness of the moment. In two major science areas of study, Neuroimaging and Neurochemistry, recent developments allow us to see the observable changes in the brain that result from meditation and lead to better cognition and mood.


Current neuroimaging tools such as fMRI machines provide more accurate brain scans than ever before. Researchers can now study the long-term effects of meditation on neuroplasticity— a brain’s ability to form new associations, in particular as a reaction to learning or something different.

Much as exercise builds the muscles, meditation improves neuroplasticity. Meditation, asana, and pranayama are calming the brain to avoid atrophy and decay. Long-term meditators who exercise for as little as 10 minutes a day have shown positive effects.

The normal brain tissue decrease with ageing and strengthen cognitions and memory seems to be slowing meditation. Researcher Sara Lazar from Harvard found that meditators between the age of 40 and 50 have main structures like non-meditators in their twenties: gray matter rises in the cortex of the front, enhances focus, addresses conflicts and controls emotions. Meditation also affects the limbic system— a complex brain network that is responsible for actions, emotions, and survival instincts. The hippocampus thickens, strengthening your work memory and holding you grounded today. In the meantime, activity in the amygdala declines and fears the brain responds.


Your brain can naturally produce key chemicals which are synthesized in a laboratory by pharmaceutical companies. Serotonin, for example, improves control mood, wellbeing, appetite, sleep, memory, etc. Some antidepressants increase the usable levels of serotonin in your brain. Meditation has also shown that the levels of serotonin without the side effects are improved, making it a promising additional therapy. Measurable improvements in meditation neurochemistry include:

  • Increased brain alpha wave activity: Alpha waves are calm.
  • Increased GABA: Gamma aminobutyric acid provides more relief in the form of anxiety, tension and stress symptoms.
  • Increased serotonin: serotonin helps to control mood. Depression is associated with low levels of available serotonin.
  • Improved BDNF: the brain related neurotrophic factor is a neuronal health and neuroplastic protein. Yoga can improve BDNF levels, which can assist individuals with chronic pain or depression.
  • Controlled dopamine: Dopamine functions as a reward system of your body and dysfunction is related to addiction. Research suggests that meditation leads to better auto-regulation.
  • Increased cortisol: the stress hormone is cortisol. If your baseline increases and your rates are too high, inflammation and weight gain will result.
  • Less Norepinephrine: reduced norepinephrine or adrenaline in your body means fewer stress hormones.

Change Your Mind

Meditation changes the neuronal functions literally. Research shows that meditation can serve as a supplemental treatment for depression, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, cancer, cardiac disease and more. Better still, before they begin, it can help to prevent several problems. Meditation encourages optimal health and endurance neurobiology. It has been a test of time for some reason and why the literature on meditation in recent decades has increased exponentially: It works.

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