WARNING: I am not a scientist. I am not a trained researcher other than that of educational content. I am not a doctor. The information below is my own perception of the research I have conducted. Thank you for reading with this in mind!
I always understood that the drinking age in the United States was determined to be 21 because the brain continues to grow until that age. So apparently, the law makers thought it would be adventateous for Americans to fully develop their brains prior to killing them one cell at a time. What a sad reality. Only to have a finite time to develop our entire brain although we may live a lengthy life. Also, to think of my brains growth being during a time I’d rather forget! Ages 15-21, I wasn’t always my favorite version of me. I think all of us from pre-cellphone eras are thankful our idiotic moments could not be captured forever. Phew.
What if this is not true? Actually, it isn’t true. It was just the truth at the time. Now we know our brain can continue to grow. We even can practice to build areas of the brain for which we choose. Just imagine you are in the weight room. You do arm curls to build your biceps. Science is now proving the impact that mindfulness and meditation tools and strategies have on different parts of the brain.
Here is a brief review of my understanding of the brain:
- The cortex is linked to attention control
- After a 3 month study of people practicing meditation, their cortex grew thicker
- Limbic System
- Limbic system is linked to processing emotions. It is also connected to: motivation, learning and memory as well as some emotions like pleasure.
- The 3 month study also showed a growth in the limbic system
- The amygdala is responsible for perception, emotions of fear/anger/sadness, and aggression
- This area is linked to depression and anxiety
- After an 8 week study on people meditating the amygdala shrinks
- The hippocampus is responsible for the consolidation of information in the brain and to create/from new memories as well as organize memories
- The hippocampus increases in thickness after mindfulness and/or mediation
Even in my very brief and rudimentary scientific study here, it is undeniable that mindful tools and specifically meditation can help us be better people!
If I can build a strong barrier of positive brain power while also shrinking my stress responders, duh! Yes please! This is how you go from being now to being happier. Or go from now to creating more positive memories. Or go from now to better attention and concentration.
This is the science behind the Second Arrow mission. “Empowering educational leaders through the instruction of mindfulness tools leading to retention, engagement, and efficiency of employees.” If I can keep stress at bay, I can concentrate better and be a more efficient and engaged employee. And due to decrease in reactionary negative emotions, I may be able to stay in the profession for longer without suffering a heart attack, stroke, or panic attack as have been real experiences of even my good friends in administration.
Further, science is showing other benefits for the brain through the practice of mindfulness and meditation.
- The ability for the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections.
- These connections are linked to experiences and even injury.
- This could mean that even after a negative experience, we do not need to retain the brains connection as a bad event. Or even more of a miracle sounding cure, after an injury the brain can support recovery through the use of mindfulness/meditation by building new synapse.
- Reducing Age Related Degeneration
- Improve Cognitive Functions
It isn’t too late! Get your brain to the gym today! Get a good workout in and build you cortex and hippocampus! You’ll even lose weight in your amygdala which is becoming my least favorite part of my brain!
I don’t mean to say “drink up” because the science of the 1980’s may have not been totally clear, but while enjoying your Moscow Mule tonight, consider adding mindfulness activities to your daily routine. Heck, you might live longer, concentrate better, and create positive memoires. Not a bad deal at all!
- New Scientist article by Caroline Williams
- Kripala Center for Yoga and Health
- Forbes article by Alison Walton
- EOC Institute
- Very Well Mind
- Psychology Today article by Dr. Rebecca Gladding
- and more…