Fara Choi Ashimoto
Headington Institute, 2013.
Most people would agree that practicing meditation is good for you. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety, builds focus and concentration, and improves creative thinking. But how does practicing meditation physiologically change what’s going on inside of you, impacting your emotional, spiritual, and mental wellbeing? Take a look at what the recent studies are showing.
Habitual meditation has been shown to:
- Shrink the amygdala which controls our reaction to fear.
- Thicken the prefrontal cortex, the thinking and reasoning part of our brain.
- Enlarge the hippocampus which controls our memory, providing context for our emotional responses.
- Strengthen the posterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with our creativity, self reflection and self-awareness.
- Builds the temporoparietal junction, which manages our ability to be empathetic and emotionally intelligent.
- Reduce blood pressure.
- Boost our immune system.
- Help us handle pain.
- Improve our sleep.
- Prevent heart disease.
“It did to my mind what going to the gym did to my body — it made it both stronger and more flexible,” said Dr. Hedy Kober, a neuroscientist who who studies the effects of mindfulness meditation, which she has practiced for 10 years, at her lab at Yale University.
As an aid worker, you operate with abnormal levels of challenge which can drain your resources over time. Many of the benefits associated with meditation can help you build up these internal resources and stay resilient in your work. Knowing that meditation can reverse some of the negative effects of stress and trauma on our brains gives us yet another compelling reason to make meditation a routine part of our resilience plan.
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