Why are companies like Google and Twitter teaching their employees to meditate?
It’s because these savvy companies understand how the benefits of meditation can help lead to better business results. Google has been offering a free ‘practical real-world meditation’ program to their employees since 2012. And Twitter has a room in the middle of their office designated for people to do yoga and meditate.
According to Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, “Meditation is not a perk that makes this a nice, fluffy place to work. It makes you better, and it makes the company better. We really believe in the hard science aspects of it”.
There is solid scientific evidence on how the brain changes as a result of practicing meditation. These changes not only transform the size and structure of the brain but also create changes in your mind that have psychological and emotional benefits.
4 Ways Meditation Changes Your Brain
1. Increase Positive Emotional Response
Meditation reduces the size of the amygdala, an almond-shape set of neurons in the brain. The amygdala plays a key role processing our emotions, particularly those related to survival. By reducing the amygdala, our brain reduces our emotional reactions to negative experiences and thoughts.
Meditation helps with self-directing our mind to promote neuroplasticity. Our brain creates neural pathways so that we can adapt to our needs. Promoting Neuroplasticity will strengthen your brain’s capacity to deal with illness, injuries and adjust to new activities. The more your brain can adapt to changes the less tendency to focus on negative experiences.
Meditation increases the activity of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain helps us with decision making, planning and behaving in social situations. Increasing the prefrontal cortex strengthens your decision making and planning skills by reducing the tendency to pay attention to negative experiences. The more positive your thinking is, the better you become at dealing with the world and others.
In a recent study, evidence was found about Meditation being as effective as antidepressants for treating people with depression.
2. Increase Body Awareness
Meditation increases your self-awareness of what is physically going on in your body. It helps people be more aware of things like your breathing and heart rate as it strengthens the parietal lobe function in the brain. The parietal lobe is where we process and integrate information such as taste, temperature, breathing, heart rate and touch. Developing this part of the brain will make you more aware of when you heart rate increases and your breathing changes.
The parietal function relates to how you perceive and relate to the people around you. Developing it will help you become more aware of others, making you a more empathetic person. It makes you a more caring person.
3. Improve Attention and Memory
Meditation improves the size and blood flow to the cingulate gyrus. Consequently, will help you improve your attention. One of the functions of the cingulate gyrus is the ability to focus and pay attention. By increasing the blood flow in the brain, you will be a more attentive and focus person.
Meditation also decreases age-related deterioration of the hippocampus. With aging, there is an expectation that memory declines due to hippocampus changes. This part of the brain is primarily associated with memory forming, organizing, and storing. Meditation helps reduces brain deterioration and slows down cognitive decline.
4. Better Self-Concept and Connection with Others
Meditation affects the social functions related to the prefrontal cortex and the cingulate gyrus. As a result, you become more aware of the people around you. The relationships with other are better and more meaningful.
Meditation also reduces desires centered only on you and produces a more expansive sense of self.
‘The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this lifetime.’ – Songyal Rimpoche
These brain changes will make you a more attentive focused, positive person, that connects and cares about yourself and others.These benefits are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to studies about meditation benefits. Every day there are more scientists producing data to support the positive impact that it can have in our lives.