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How meditation rewires your mind for less anxiety and faster learning

by Erica Silvia

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It’s instilled in our nature to worry. We’re on the constant lookout for danger.

However, in the present world, having a hyper-vigilant mind doesn’t do us much good. It leads to a vicious cycle of anxiety and worry. Even though the answer is as straightforward as therapy yoga retreats, and simply practicing meditation regularly, not everyone takes full advantage of this built-in self-healing system.

In a study, it was concluded that there are about 40 million Americans affected by anxiety disorders. Usually, cognitive behavioral therapy and anti-anxiety medications or a combination of both and standard medical treatments for anxiety can be used to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. 

Therapy is an expensive and time-consuming procedure. Even though anti-anxiety medications are highly effective in controlling anxiety, they are not intended for long-term use as they are some of the most addictive substances. Moreover, if you’re under the constant struggle of dealing with your worries, you may be in search of a drug-free solution.

Latest research shows that meditation, in fact, works as well as the commonly prescribed anxiety medications. You can even train your brain to be less nervous, starting today! Even if you’ve never meditated before.

How does anxiety change your brain?

Anxiety doesn’t only just make you feel bad, but it also changes the function and structure of your brain. The hippocampus of the brain is considered to be the central controller of memory and anxiety decreases the size of the hippocampus. Consequently, it increases the size of the amygdala. The amygdala is that part of the brain which makes you more anxious and fearful because it is responsible for responding to fear.

Nonetheless, the release of stress hormones is triggered by an increase in anxiety, fear, and stress, causing an imbalance in neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are responsible for the communication of brain cells with each other.

How does meditation change your brain?

meditation in middle of nature

Meditation helps you relax! And this particular fact has been known to man for thousands of years. However, meditation does much more than just help you relax. Much like anxiety, meditation changes the function and structure of your brain too but more productively and healthily.

Mediating regularly does not only reduce the symptoms of stress but in the process also reverses the damage caused by anxiety. The changes can be measured and tracked with the latest neuroimaging techniques.

Over 18,000 studies of mindfulness meditation were sifted through in research from John Hopkins University, to determine the most effective ways of reducing anxiety. It was hence concluded that the most efficient way of reducing anxiety is meditation.

According to other studies, meditation is also beneficial for all kinds of mental disorders such as addictions, the bipolar disorder, the binge eating disorder, the attention deficit hyperactive disorder, depression, the agoraphobia, panic disorder, social anxiety, as well as cases of generalized anxiety disorder.

Here are the most powerful ways meditation improves your brain and mental well-being.

Meditation helps anxiety by breaking anxious thought patterns

stack of stones in river meditation concept photo

Anxiety consolidates our negative thought patterns, but a primary way in which meditation helps is that it can break them. Anyone suffering from anxiety is under a vicious cycle of anxiety, worry, and racing thoughts.

Meditation breaks that obsessive vicious cycle and prevents negative thinking from overshadowing one’s thoughts. Meditation reduces rumination and improves our control over unwanted and random thoughts while decreasing our tendency to worry.

Meditation alters the way our brain responds to stress

Meditation has the tendency to change the way our mind responds to stress, breaking the constant repetition. Moreover, the strong neural pathway is what makes it impossible for the stress pattern to break. Several bad habits are actualy easier to break than negative patterns in our mind.

Our brains are struggling with a million thoughts every day. Nevertheless, surprisingly, most of these thoughts are negative. However, fortunately, our minds have the endless capacity to alter. The phenomenon is termed as neuroplasticity.

Meditation trains the brain to think differently

woman in middle of nature meditating pink flower bush

Meditation trains our minds to view thoughts differently. It teaches us how to recognize the difference between worrying about the future and pondering about the past. Instead of worrying about all possible adverse outcomes, it shows you to understand the worrying thought and then letting it go, It does so by creating a thought pattern which trains your brain to be less anxious.

The risk factors for anxiety are yet to be determined, and no one knows for sure what causes anxiety. The established risk factors include your genes, emotional trauma, and basic personality type.

Nonetheless, there is evidence which shows that anxiety can be caused by prolonged stress brought on by an imbalance of the brain chemicals. Practicing meditation can help create an optimum balance of neurotransmitters. 12 minutes of meditation each day, makes one feel more focuses and relaxed.

Meditation increases the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter vital for happiness in your body which can instantly lift your mood. It reduced the level of cortisol which is a neurotransmitter that contributes in memory loss, sleep disorders, depression and anxiety, significantly.

Meditation improves brain health

A measurable increase in the thickness of the cortex, volume of the hippocampus and amount of gray matter is shown in people who meditate regularly. Moreover, the area of the brain responsible for stress and anxiety is the amygdala.

Meditation reduces the size of the amygdala, making it less reactive and reducing the amount of stress and anxiety. It increases the blood flow to the head, enhances neuroplasticity and improves neural connections between the different areas of the brain. It is a future-proof of preventing Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mental decline. Research finds that all sorts of meditation are helpful for improving brain health and reducing anxiety. You can find out if you are at risk for dementia via Brain test.

Last word on how meditation rewires your brain:

Meditation optimizes mental performance and mood. Moreover, it requires barely any effort and is considered as the most natural and most efficient way to tackle stress and anxiety. It improves performance and minimizes post-traumatic stress. Likewise, if you are under the constant struggle of dealing with your worries, you may be in search of a drug-free solution, in this case, which is meditation.

Looking for the best way to get started with meditation? A yoga and meditation retreat in a peaceful location is just what you need for a wellness restart. 

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