Can mindfulness meditation actually change the brain?

Written by Sarah Davies

Registered Psychologist

Life isn’t always smooth sailing. Some days are overwhelming and difficult. It’s not realistic to live a stress-free life, but it’s possible and important to know how to deal with tough situations when they arise.

Mindfulness is a tactic to help tackle anxiety and everyday stresses. It can help to slow down your mind when it starts racing and it can sharpen your concentration skills. Here’s everything you need to know about this simple practice.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about being present and fully engaged with whatever you’re doing at that moment. It’s about being free from distraction or judgment and being aware of your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.

Why is mindfulness useful?

When you are faced with a difficult situation, knowing how to put mindfulness into practice can help give you a better chance of being non-reactive and responding in a more calm and effective manner.

Clarity, calmness and improved focus are some of the psychological benefits of meditation that can happen within the first few weeks of starting the practice.

Over time, you’ll start experiencing long-term benefits, which can include:

  • Enhanced memory and cognition
  • Heightened motivation
  • Improved communication
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Increased energy and stamina

Each individual is different, but consistency and commitment are key to seeing results and improvements.

How do you practice mindfulness?

In the beginning, practising mindfulness, especially in the form of meditation, can be a foreign concept for many people. However, the more you do it, the easier it will become.

Meditation is the training ground for learning mindfulness. At first you meditate to become familiar with the here and now for a limited period of time. Eventually, through regular practice you’ll be able to be present throughout the day, every day.

Does it really work?

It has been scientifically proven that regular meditation practice can actually change the shape of your brain by strengthening important areas and decreasing others.

Neuro-imaging studies have proven that after just 8 weeks of regular meditation, grey matter density in the brain has increased1. Grey matter is responsible for executive functions, such as emotional regulation, planning and problem solving.

The cortical thickness of the brain also increases2, which has an impact on your learning and memory processes.

The part of the brain that is in charge of how we feel stress, fear and anxiety, also known as the “flight or fight” centre can actually shrink2 with mindfulness practice as well.

With regular meditation practice, you have the chance to rewire your brain towards more positive thoughts and experiences long-term.

Supporting your health and wellbeing

Looking after your emotional and mental state is important to your overall health and wellbeing. Whether you are looking for information about mental health for yourself or a loved one, we’re here to help.

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Posted: Feb 07 2022


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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