By Faye Martins
What is brain fitness meditation? A lot of focus is put on physical fitness but what about the brain? The brain is essentially the hardware of the soul, the seat of all thought and emotions. There are a variety of techniques that claim to improve brain health, but few of them deliver the results of meditation.
Meditation of all varieties yields great benefits for the health and longevity of the brain, but mindfulness meditation is particularly helpful in this regard. Daily mindfulness meditation may be used to prevent or reverse age related brain decline in addition to boosting baseline brain function considerably.
Studies show that those who meditate on a daily basis have much more gray matter than those who don’t. The gray matter of the brain is vital and functional, used for thinking, problem solving, recalling memories, and even emotions. Having more gray matter essentially means having more brain. What could be better than that?
The reason that brainpower reduces with age is because the gray matter shrinks as we grow older. The brain learns and grows by making new connections, and new connections are made every time we encounter something that we have never seen before. The brain is fed by encountering the new and novel but eventually everyone reaches a saturation point where nothing is really new anymore. This is natural and it is difficult to combat because the more you do something, the more familiar it becomes to the brain.
Brain Fitness Meditation in Practice
Scientists are still unsure as to why daily meditation has such a protective effect on gray matter. In the future, science may be able to explain the specific mechanisms behind this interesting phenomenon but until then, it’s good enough to know that the benefit is there.
When meditating, the most important factor is the length of the session. For meditation to be helpful for maintaining optimal brain function and focus, the sessions must be at least 20 minutes in length on a daily basis. With this in mind, it is very important to find the meditation method that’s right for you. Most people will be very satisfied with daily mindfulness meditation, but if one finds that they prefer transcendental or guided meditation better, it’s fine to stick with that. The main thing is to make it a daily habit.
Mindfulness and Brain Fitness Meditation
A basic mindfulness meditation technique is to sit quietly in a comfortable position. This could be on a mat or cushion, or in a comfortable chair. Take a few deep, calming breaths and then close the eyes. Let go of all thoughts and focus on the breath. Feel the breath travel in and out of the body, through the nostrils, down the windpipe and into the lungs. Feel the breath nourish and bring life to the body. Realize that each breath we take is a beautiful thing in and of itself. If the mind wanders during this practice, that’s okay. When you realize that the mind has wandered, gently pull it back towards contemplating the breath. Keep it positive and have patience with yourself. Sit and breathe for at least 20 minutes and then slowly come back to your external reality. This is the simplest form of meditating, but also the most popular. It’s very effective.
Another good mindfulness method to try involves sound. Using a recording of nature sounds, tranquil music or even the sounds of a city if one is able, close your eyes and focus intently on all the noises. Give them your utmost attention and try to hear every detail of each sound as it enters the mind. If an image is brought to mind by a particular sound, feel free to regard it for a moment and then release it. Do not let judgment enter in during this meditation. Once in a fully present and relaxed state, try to hear the silence under the sound. This can be difficult at first but given time, the silence will be heard. The silence is that which allows the sound to be; the unmanifested Source from which all things are brought forth. Once the silence can be both felt and heard, even noises previously judged as unpleasant such as horns, trains and sirens become a welcome reminder of the connectivity and oneness of all things. The great unmanifested Source which allows all those things to be is also contained within you. It allows you to be, and through that connection you are one with all things. In this state, there can be nothing but peace. Listen intently for at least 20 minutes, and then open your eyes.
After 8 weeks of daily meditation, significant changes will be made to the wiring of the