Meditation has been used by civilizations for years to improve brain function and happiness. A lot of conversations have been going on about what activities really can affect the brain. However, many of them have proven that they can’t. In contrast with that though, meditation and mindfulness have shown that they really can change your brain.
Recently, we’ve seen that the ways in which your brain can be affected by these exercises can differ. A new study has found that different types of meditation alter different parts of your brain.
The People Involved
This new study was carried out by Max Planck Institute and its results were later published in Science Advances. Its participants were all aged between 20 and 55 years old. They each took part in 3 different types of training for 3 months each, for a total of 9 months.
At the end of each training, the researchers behind this study scanned the participants’ brains. They also compared the findings that they got of each group against one another.
The first section of the training was called the Presence Module and involved focused awareness meditation. During it, the participants learned how to focus their attention and control their breathing. Along with that, they also paid close attention to the sensations in their body at that time.
After that, participants then took part in the second training, the Affect Module. This section focused on enhancing empathy and compassion for others while working with partners. People involved with meditation practices know this as loving-kindness meditation.
Lastly, they took part in the Perspective Module. The main function of this section was to have the participants focus on their own thoughts without judgment and to gain a better understanding of other people’s perspectives. This is similar to open-monitoring meditation and mindfulness.
At the end of this study, researchers proved what they thought to be true from the beginning. Their results showed that training in each of these modules would increase the volume of different areas of the brain.
The Presence Module increased thickness in the areas of the brain linked to attention. The Affect Module increased thickness in the regions which affect socially driven emotions such as empathy. Lastly, the Perspective Module changed areas of the brain which help people to understand the mental states of others.
One of the authors of the study stated that “Our findings suggest a potential biological basis for how mindfulness and different aspects of social intelligence could be nurtured.” Along with that, they also spoke of how the “soft skills” learned through these training methods are becoming increasingly important.
We’re gradually learning more and more about meditation and mindfulness. Likewise, we’re finally starting to get scientific proof of its amazing benefits. People have been using meditation to train their brains for centuries. Now, we can see that those people really did have it right all along.
Do you know someone who enjoys meditation and mindfulness? Share this article with them to let them know that they’re on the right track.