Those of us who are into yoga know Meditation is a wonderful thing. Meditation is a quiet moment in savasana, at the beginning of class, or while you’re flowing through sun salutations. But what many of us don’t know is that meditation can actually help you hack your brain’s default mode.
According to “The brain’s default network: anatomy, function, and relevance to disease” the brain’s Default Mode Network is a series of regions in the brain that are activated during day dreaming, fantasizing, remembering things, trying to read social cues, or many other things that are required of a waking, but non-attentive, brain.
The default mode is considered the brain’s resting state. When your brain is focused on tasks (like writing an article about the brain’s default mode network), the default mode network deactivates.
An study recently published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews suggests meditation practitioners have structural changes in areas of the default mode network that are not present in non-meditation practitioners. The same study also found there is reduced activation of the default mode network in long-term practitioners.
Activating the Default Mode Network is correlated with an increase in self-perception, creativity, and relaxation.
The following video with Dan Harris explains a bit about the neuroscience of meditation. Harris is an ABC News Correspondent who turned to meditation after having a panic attack on air.
Fortunately for most of us it won’t be an on-air panic attack that tells us there’s something wrong. It could be overeating, a sugar addiction, outbursts of anger, recreational drug use, feelings of insecurity and distrust in our relationships, or a general depression.
But meditation can help change all that. Through meditating we can connect with our mind, and allow our Default Mode to activate. This can lead us to feeling more creative, more relaxed, and, according to Dan Harris, at least 10% happier.
New to meditation? Try this:
- Set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Sit in a comfortable position, back straight. Arms in a comfortable position. It doesn’t matter too much what position you’re in as long as you can maintain it for 5 minutes.
- Close your eyes and relax your face.
- Inhale deeply. Exhale completely.
- Repeat 3 times.
- Come to natural breath.
- Focus on your breath. Notice the rise and fall of your chest. On your inhale say to yourself, “Inhale.” On your exhale say, “Exhale.”
- If you find your mind wandering, acknowledge the thoughts, and then simply come back to focus on the breath.
- When your timer goes off, slowly open your eyes, and assess: do you feel calmer than when you started?
How often do you meditate? Do you feel it has made you happier? Let me know in the comments.