avatarJulian Lufi

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How does meditation affect our brain and body?

This is the second post about meditation, but this time, we won’t talk about beginner things; we will dive deeper into understanding what meditation actually does and how it works. If you haven’t seen my previous post about a beginner’s guide to meditation, you can find it here:

https://readmedium.com/meditation-for-beginners-a-comprehensive-guide-to-kickstart-your-journey-to-inner-calm-7f7fa583922f

Today, we’ll explore what happens in the brain and body during meditation and how meditation induces changes in both the brain and body. We’ll discuss what you can gain from a meditation practice and how it can impact various aspects of your life, from sleep to mood, and enhance focus and other mental states useful for work and daily life.

Active areas of the brain and body during meditation and after

The prefrontal cortex, located at the front of the brain, plays a pivotal role in interpreting bodily sensations and making decisions based on that interpretation. It is interconnected with the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the insula, which collaborate to understand both internal and external bodily events. The ACC receives information from the amygdala and other brain regions and body parts, while the insula interprets signals from both the body and the external world. This neural network constantly communicates to discern internal and external occurrences. Mindfulness, a core aspect of meditation, involves being fully present, whether to internal or external stimuli. By focusing on the prefrontal cortex during meditation, third-eye meditation, thoughts and emotions become more prominent in our awareness. While this can lead to a disorganized and intrusive experience, practicing mindfulness of both internal and external stimuli can enhance our overall sense of well-being and happiness. This is the neuroscience of meditation..

Interoception and exteroception

Interoception encompasses all sensations we perceive at the level of our skin and inward. It involves being aware of internal sensations like heartbeat, temperature, and more. Interoceptive meditation encourages practitioners to turn their attention inward, focusing on subtle sensations and processes within the body. Techniques such as body scan meditation and breath awareness cultivate a deep connection with internal states, fostering emotional regulation and stress reduction. Observing emotions and bodily sensations without judgment enhances self-awareness and deepens understanding of one’s inner landscape.

Exteroception refers to the body’s ability to perceive and respond to stimuli from the external environment. It involves the traditional senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Exteroceptive meditation directs attention outward, promoting mindfulness of the surrounding environment. Practices like mindful walking and sound meditation heighten sensory awareness of the external world. By appreciating nature’s sounds and visual details without attachment, exteroceptive meditation enhances concentration, gratitude, and presence.

These meditation practices can shift our awareness along this continuum, enhancing interoceptive awareness for those more focused on the external world and vice versa.

Incorporating both interoceptive and exteroceptive meditation into your practice offers a comprehensive approach to mindfulness, fostering a deeper connection with your inner self and the external world. Each form of meditation provides unique insights and benefits, contributing to your overall well-being and mindfulness journey.

The impact of meditation

Engaging in a daily 13-minute meditation (though 5 or 3 minutes can also be effective), biased towards interoception, such as third-eye meditation or focused breathing, for around 8 weeks, can significantly improve mood, sleep quality, cognitive abilities, focus, memory and a huge number of other metrics. This practice positively impacts various aspects of your life, enhancing your overall well-being and mental clarity.

In conclusion, meditation has profound effects on our brain and body. By activating the prefrontal cortex and engaging in interoceptive and exteroceptive awareness, meditation allows us to become more present, attentive, and self-aware. Through regular practice, we can experience improved emotional regulation, stress reduction, enhanced focus, and a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. Whether you dedicate a few minutes or a longer duration to meditation, the benefits are far-reaching and can positively impact various aspects of our lives. So, why not start incorporating meditation into your daily routine and unlock the transformative power it holds.

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Meditation
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