How Meditation Affects the Mind:
Let’s Mold This Mindful Muscle
There is a mindfulness program entitled: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which encompasses a plethora of helpful techniques that have shown great success in improving psychological wellness and reducing symptoms associated with a variety of psychological disorders! Research has shown that implementing these mindful practices improves learning and core-memory processing! It actually thickens the area of the hippocampus where each of these processes take place. (ergo: mindfulness actually molds your brain!) It restructures the physicality of the muscle over time, growing and adjusting in areas that count!
(Cited source for this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/)
Supplements for the Soul
John Hopkin’s posted a case study which assessed the relationship between mindfulness and meditation and its ability to reduce the symptoms of depression, hypertension, and pain. It concluded that through consistent mindful meditation practices, you gain a heightened sense of awareness which allows the patient to better cope with their symptoms! By reducing the impact of psychological stress, the more jarring symptoms of those disorders are lessened, allowing the patient to manage it more effectively.
(Cited source for this: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1809754)
Human Default Setting
Yale University performed a study on mindful meditation and how it impacted our default mode network. (DMN) Our DMN is a collective area in our brains where activity is increased while we aren’t focused on any particular thing or activity; think of it as a network that gently hums in the background while you’re dissociating!
During mindful meditation, the activity within our DMN network slows down! You might be asking yourself, “huh. What does that have to do with anything?” Well, when you’re not actively engaging in something, does your mind ever wander, or quickly bounce from thought to thought? Ours, too! Sometimes this can cause you to feel stressed or hypertensive. By decreasing the activity in the DMN network, you’re able to allow the mind recess and even combat that hypertension directly!
(Cited source for this: https://www.pnas.org/content/108/50/20254.short)
Grow That Gray Area
Over time, brain functionality can become imparied by a number of factors both externally and internally within the body. Mindful meditation can be a great tool to combat some of those internal factors like depression or anxiety. A study performed by UCLA found that people who meditate long-term had better preserved brain tissue than those who meditated short-term. Participants who meditated over 20 years consistently have more gray matter within their brains.
(Brain Blurb: the “gray” area references the passing of sensory information from our nerve signals to the brain!) This process showed the effectiveness of meditation as a whole on our “mindful” muscles!
Resources to Restore: Mindfulness of Cannabis Use
In our previous blog post, Best Strains to Strengthen Your Brain, we talked about some stellar strains you can implement into your meditation practices to potentially bring about total body relaxation or a placid frame of mind – both are ideal conditions for maintaining a status of mindfulness. Did you know that cannabis can play a big role promoting mindfulness off mat, too? Starting your day off to a wake & bake can get your mind settled and ready to begin the day! If you’re trying to get those creative juices flowin’ and pump yourself up for a full day ahead, cannabidiol (CBD) is a good catalyst for that. THC is more sedative and a great alternative to a chillaxed day snoozin’ on the mat like a lazy kitty cat.
Practicing mindfulness is promoting awareness of our external environments and what’s happening within our bodies and minds simultaneously. A lot of factors can deplete our energies – work, school, illness, stress; all are valid extensions of our time and emotions. It’s important to be mindful of when you’re in need of reallocating your energy back into yourself! Cannabis can play a big part in that, too. A little THC or a heady Indica strain can calm even the most frantic of brains. Sometimes we all need a little help grounding ourselves and navigating this entropic, but incredibly beautiful mess we collectively call life.
P5: Putting Practice into Play
In the final section of this micro-blog series, Putting Practice into Play, we’re going to light up a blunt, get our mats out, and put our knowledge of mindfulness into practice! We’re also going to review some basic meditation practices for our beginner bud buddhas.