Meditation’s impact on the mind

Meditation can have a huge positive impact in how we deal with the outer world and everything life throws at us. Compare this to the stressed state, which is known to damage the neural connections between the prefrontal cortex and the brain as a whole, and we can see why meditation is worth pursuing in its many forms.

We found a useful comparison between the two states on the Transcendental Meditation website which we thought it worthwhile to share here. If you want to find out  more about this type of meditation click here:

How stress damages the brain

Stress, pressure, fatigue, poor diet, alcohol, and drugs damage neural connections between the brain’s prefrontal cortex—or “CEO”—and the rest of the brain. When you are overtired or under intense mental or physical stress, the brain bypasses its “higher,” more evolved, rational frontal executive circuits—it starts using more primitive stimulus/response pathways. Consequently, you respond to daily demands without thinking; you make impulsive, shortsighted decisions. When the CEO goes “offline,” strong emotions, such as fear and anger, take over, adversely coloring your view of the world.

EFFECTS OF STRESS

Weak executive functioning

Tendency towards

  • Rigid thinking
  • Impulsive, reactive behavior
  • Shortsighted decision-making
  • Poor working memory
  • Distracted attention
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Unethical thinking and behavior

Stressed physiology

Tendency towards

  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Eating and sleeping disorders
  • Weak immune system

Imbalanced emotions

Tendency towards

  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Worries, anxieties, and fears
  • Shallow, divisive emotions
  • Unstable relationships
  • Depression

How meditation helps brain function

The stress-reducing, nonreligious Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique provides the experience of “restful alertness,” which reduces stress, strengthens communication between the brain’s prefrontal cortex and different areas of the brain, and develops total brain functioning. As a result, the TM practitioner displays stronger executive functions, with more purposeful thinking and farsighted decision-making. When the CEO is fully “online,” the emotional response to the world is more balanced and appropriate.

EFFECTS OF TM

Strong executive functioning

Tendency towards

  • Purposeful, flexible thinking
  • Nonimpulsive, proactive behavior
  • Farsighted decision-making
  • Excellent working memory
  • Settled, focused attention
  • No substance abuse or addictions
  • Ethical thinking and behavior

Healthy physiology

Tendency towards

  • Energy and vitality
  • Fit cardiovascular system
  • Balanced physiology
  • Strong immune functioning

Balanced emotions

Tendency towards

  • Self-confidence and secure self-esteem
  • Feelings of safety and peace
  • Compassion and empathy for others
  • Healthy interpersonal relations
  • Happiness and optimism