For decades, scientists believed that once we reached adulthood, our brain was incapable of any change beyond than the negative alterations associated with disease and aging. We now know that the brain is incredibly dynamic, with a potentially unlimited ability to change throughout our entire lifespan. At any age, new neural pathways can be created and refined, and our gray matter can actually be thickened. The brain’s plasticity is an infinitely precious quality that we can harness to move from habitual negative feelings states, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD – to an expanded experience of emotional wellbeing and happiness in our daily lives.
Meditation is one of the most powerful yet simple tools for altering the brain in many positive ways. There are numerous studies about the benefits of meditation in relieving stress and anxiety, improving sleep, and nurturing deep states of calm. Almost every week, new scientific studies are coming out showing more neurological benefits of meditation.
Here are just a few recent discoveries:
What happens in the brain during meditation?
The emotional effects of sitting quieting and going within are profound. The deep state of rest produced by meditation triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Each of these naturally occurring brain chemicals has been linked to different aspects of happiness:
Releasing Emotional Toxicity
While the ancient Vedic sages weren’t able to study the brain at the cellular level, they knew that meditation is a powerful practice for regaining inner calm and equilibrium. Ayurveda teaches that just as physical toxins, known as “ama,” can build up in our cells, we can also accumulate mental toxicity in the form of unresolved anger, fear, doubt, cravings, compulsiveness, and emotional upset.
In meditation, we go beyond the domain of negative thought patterns and “stuck” emotions, into the domain of pure awareness. We enter the silence in the mind that is not imprisoned in the past or fearful about the future. This silence is the birthplace of happiness. It’s the eternal now where all possibilities for creativity, love, and joy exist. And when you practice meditation on a regular basis, this present moment awareness expands into all your daily activities, allowing you to be a still point and remain centered even when life tries to intrude with all its inevitable ups and downs.
How to Receive the Full Benefits of Meditation
In our experience at the Chopra Center, learning meditation from a qualified teacher is the best way to ensure that you get the most from your practice. A teacher will help you understand what you’re experiencing, move past common roadblocks, and create a nourishing daily practice. We have a global network of certified Primordial Sound Meditation teachers throughout the world. Click here to find a certified instructor in your area. In addition, because we believe that meditation is a primary tool for health, wellbeing, and happiness, we offer instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation at every event and program.
Seduction of Spirit Meditation Retreat
If you are new to meditation or want to deepen your practice, we invite you to join us for Seduction of Spirit, led by Deepak Chopra. This is one of our most popular events, which has continued to evolve and transform for more than a decade. Learn more here >>
If you enjoy guided meditations, the Chopra center’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge™ is an opportunity for you to experience three full weeks of daily meditations from the comfort of your own home. Learn more here >>
So Hum Meditation
Here is a simple yet powerful practice you can try right now:
When you try this exercise, you probably will notice that just by focusing on the sounds So Hum, you sink deeper into relaxation as your mind quiets. You may also experience a few moments of complete silence.