Neuroplasticity seems to indicate the role of mind, or consciousness, in providing the template on which our physical brain changes to reflect our intentions and perceptions.
Neuroplasticity is the general term for the ability of the brain to recover from injury, including the ability to generate new neurons and interconnect them with the rest of the brain. The brain has a remarkable ability to rewire and rebuild itself.
The practice of long-term meditation seems to influence the physical structures of the brain. In the brains of longtime meditators, as compared with novices, increased activity has been observed in regions associated with states of attentive focus. There is an area in the forehead (Brodmann areas 9 and 10 in the prefrontal cortex) that contains a larger volume of brain tissue in experienced practitioners. Mindfulness training is also correlated with a decreased volume in the amygdala, a brain structure associated with fear responses.
Research into the neuroscience of meditation reveals a wide range of emotional and behavioral benefits:
- stress relief
- reduced anxiety and depression
- improved immunity
- enhanced creativity
- increased intuition
- lower blood pressure
- better ability to maintain focused attention
- connection with a sense of oneness
Meditative techniques provide a means to intentionally quiet the mind and discover a stillness inside. Meditators report a broad range of experiences, and some are able to regularly connect with what they describe as the realm of loving oneness, either on purpose or quite unexpectedly.
Continue your daily routine of quiet contemplation. If your thoughts wander, allow them to exist without engaging, and return your attention to your breathing. Record any observations in your journal.