Meditation Can Change our Brain

Waverly meditationDo you suffer with scatterbrain? Overwhelmed by your thoughts? Feel incapable of concentration or attention? Why not try meditation?

Recent findings in neuroscience suggest that meditation and mindfulness training not only changes our mind, but may also cause neuroplasticity in the brain.

Multiple studies by Harvard neuroscientists found three significant changes in as little as four weeks of meditation training. The first transformation was an increase in cortical thickness in an area of the brain involved with bodily attention and sensory awareness. Next, an increase in gray matter in brain regions involved in learning, memory, and emotion regulation were discovered. Lastly, found larger volumes in the hippocampus might account for meditators’ abilities and habits to cultivate positivity and retain emotional stability.

Additionally, a Danish research group found large differences in the medulla oblongata region of the brain stem. This area is known to contain autonomic nerve system structures such as respiratory and cardiac control. Changes to this area could explain why respiration and heart rates decrease with meditation training.

Although the cellular mechanisms underlying meditation training and its connection to neuroplasticity are not fully understood, a wide range of research has shown that observed differences are not confined to one area of the brain. Thus, meditation is a popular therapeutic method used to both improve psychological state and promote neuroplasticity. It can be self-administered, eliminates the need for transportation to a treatment facility and is a low cost activity.

There are many different types of meditation ranging from traditions steeped in religious beliefs to more westernized techniques that focus on breath and relaxation. To find the right type for you check out the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Five tips to help you get started!

  1. Sit Tall – Get comfortable seated in a lotus position or sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Straightening and lengthening your spine will help to increase your circulation and keep you alert.
  2. Start Small – If ten minutes seems overwhelming, begin with five. After a week, add one minute until you build up to 30 min at a time.
  3. Find a friend – Join a group online or take a course. Being accountable to a friend will help fight excuses.
  4. Practice makes perfect – The only way to improve is practice. Think of meditation as bicep curls for the muscles of your mind.
  5. Just breathe – Our minds have a tendency to analyze the past or project into the future. Focus on your inhaling and exhaling to help anchor the mind into the present.

WaverlyWaverly Wyld

Our Guest writer today, Waverly Wyld is a fourth year student at The University of Guelph-Humber.  She’s taking Kinesiology and she recently completed a placement with us at Aim2Walk.  Her hard work and drive to learn was outstanding and she was a great help to the team.  Thank you Waverly for your hard work and for sharing your knowledge about meditation. We’ve already started to implement more meditation into our clients protocol.

 

Best of luck to you in the rest of your school year and in your future with health care.

The Aim2Walk Team! 

Aim2Walk Client Progress: Naresh Gupta C5 Complete SCI

December 18, 2012, Naresh Gupta was in a serious work truck accident. He suffered a C5 complete spinal cord injury. This has left him bound to a wheelchair without the use of his legs and limited use of his arms and hands. July 9, 2014 Naresh started therapy with us at Aim2Walk. Naresh comes to the clinic four days a week for one hour as well he uses our Neurochangers gym before or after his hour session. Naresh has been a dedicated, hard working client and it shows with his progress. Already with less then 4 months with us and he’s able to hold his head up without a struggle, his hand grip has improved and he has noticed more feeling down his back. We’ve been working to improve his core strength with intensive one on one muscle training as well as walking on the  Lokomat, to help relearn a proper walking pattern.

This video below gives you an idea of some of the training Naresh does while at Aim2Walk.

Michelle Wolfe

Michelle’s Sweet Potato Hash

Sunday morning brunch is my favorite meal shared with family. After a long hard work week and possibly a late night Saturday, Sundays are often the day to sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast, early lunch, AKA: Brunch.

What’s on your brunch menu? My family usually sticks to the same thing each week, scrabbled eggs, english muffins, bacon and hashbrowns from a bag. Although I’ve tempted in the past to make something more “healthy” or different, we always end up resorting to the originals. However… my newest recipe “Sweet Potato Hash” may be a winner. Although my family finds the bag of hashbrowns much easier and quicker to cook, I have found grating the potato makes it just as quick and easy (and packed with more nutrients too). Mmm I’m already looking forward to tomorrow morning.

HashSweet Potato Hash

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatos

1/2 spanish onion chopped to your liking

1 1/2tbsp italian mix spices (or your favorite herb mix)

2 pinches red pepper flakes (optional if you don’t like it hot)

pepper and salt to taste

2tbsp grapeseed oil or butter

Instructions:

Heat up frying pan on medium with grapeseed oil. Wash the potatoes and grate with skins on. Add all ingredients to the pan. Flip/stir frequently and cook till potato is slightly crispy and brown.

(serves 4)

Enjoy!

Michelle Wolfe