Did you know that your behavior can fundamentally change your brain…even heal and ‘rewire’ it to a surprising degree?
Not too long ago, experts were convinced that the brain was fully formed after childhood and gradually declined in our middle to later years. However, new research clearly shows that meditation and other forms of relaxation can not only change your state of mind, they can also radically restructure your brain.
For instance, meditation stimulates a high level of activity in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain - an indicator of positive mood. In general, meditators who show heightened activity in this area are able to quickly recover from negative stimuli. The overall impact of negative feelings is dampened so that they’re less likely to get rattled by powerful emotions such as anger, fear, shame or sorrow.
Regular activation of brain pathways strengthens neural networks - this is a fundamental premise of neuroplasticity. Clearly, meditative practices help strengthen neural networks of long-term meditators such that they’re able to sustain a sense of wellbeing even in stressful environments.
Meditative practices are also known to stimulate the anterior cingulate cortex, which controls attention. It another activates another area known as the insula, which controls internal awareness of one’s own body.
How is this helpful to you?
Being in tune with your body via interoception keeps you from damaging it with your emotions or lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise. Interoception has also been shown to develop a pleasant sense of being ‘in your body’ along with an increased awareness of so-called gut feelings and intuition and greater empathy with others.
In other words your lifestyle practices can rewire your brain, affecting how your mind works and the very quality of the thoughts you think.
While your brain function may deteriorate as you age, strategic approaches such as meditation and other relaxing practices can help to create new neural pathways and strengthen existing ones that deliver lasting, practical benefits for your long-term health.