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  • There are 80 to 100 billion neurons in a human brain, and every single one of them can form

  • thousands of connections with other neurons, leading to a complex network of hundreds of

  • trillions of synapses that enable brain cells to communicate with each other.

  • Psychologist Rick Hanson, describes it asLike a computer network built from five

  • hundred trillion transistors, each representing a “bitof information depending on whether

  • it isonoroff”.” Yet, despite the best efforts and findings

  • of modern neuroscience, the true functioning of our mind remains one of the greatest and

  • most fascinating mysteries. We know a lot about how our brain helps us stay alive, communicate,

  • and perceive the world around us. But this knowledge, however brilliant, continues to

  • change at an extraordinary pace and represents only a tip of a gigantic iceberg whose full

  • beauty is hiding well from our sight. Is it then preposterous to consider that something

  • as trivial as focusing our mind and breathing steadily for a short time every day could

  • have a profound effect on our well-being? Is it in our power at all to make changes

  • to our own brain?

  • The script for this video was written by Kristyna Zapletal, writer & coach for leaders and entrepreneurs.

  • You can find more about her and her inspiring articles in the description below.

  • Neuroscientists have been studying the effects of mindfulness techniques on our brains, with

  • some pretty compelling results. The introduction of Magnetic Resonance Imagining (MRI) into

  • clinical practice in the 1980s has resulted in substantial scientific advancement. Since

  • then, researchers have been able to measure the activity and changes in the individual

  • parts of the brain in humans. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical

  • School, uses the MRI technology to look at very fine, detailed brain structures and see

  • what is happening to the brain while a person is performing a certain task, including yoga

  • and meditation. According to her own words, Lazar herself

  • used to be sceptical about the lofty claims her yoga teacher had made about the emotional

  • benefits of meditations she should have expected to experience. When after attending several

  • classes, she indeed felt calmer, happier, and more compassionate, she decided to re-focus

  • her research on the changes in the brain's physical structure as a result of meditation

  • practice. CAN MEDITATION GENUINELY CHANGE BRAIN STRUCTURE?

  • In her first study, Lazar looked at individuals with extensive meditation experience, which

  • involved focused attention on internal experiences(no mantras or chanting). The data proved, among

  • others, that meditation may slow down or prevent age-related thinning of the frontal cortex

  • that otherwise contributes to the formation of memories. The common knowledge says that

  • when people get older, they tend to forget stuff. Interestingly, Lazar and her team found

  • out that 40–50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter in their cortex

  • as the 20–30-year-old ones.

  • For her second study, she engaged people who had never meditated before and put them through

  • a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training program, where they took a weekly class and

  • were told to perform mindfulness exercises, including body scan, mindful yoga, and sitting

  • meditation, every day for 30 to 40 minutes. Lazar wanted to test the participants for

  • positive effects of mindfulness meditation on their psychological well-being and alleviating

  • symptoms of various disorders such as anxiety, depression, eating disorder, insomnia, or

  • chronic pain. After eight weeks, she found out that the

  • brain volume increased in four regions, from which the most relevant were:

  • HIPPOCAMPUS: a seahorse-shaped structure responsible for learning, storage of memories, spatial

  • orientation, and regulation of emotions. TEMPOROPARIETAL JUNCTION: the area where temporal

  • and parietal lobes meet and which is responsible for empathy and compassion.

  • On the other hand, the one area whose brain volume decreased was the AMYGDALA: an almond-shaped

  • structure responsible for triggering the fight-or-flight response as a reaction to a threat, whether

  • real or only perceived.

  • Here, the decrease in gray matter correlated with changes in the levels of stress. The

  • smaller their amygdala became, the less stressed people felt, even though their external environment

  • remained the same. It proved that the change in amygdala reflected the change in the people's

  • reactions to their environment, not in the environment itself.

  • WHAT IS THE MAIN DRIVER OF CHANGE IN OUR BRAIN? Our brain develops and adapts throughout our

  • whole lives. This phenomenon, called neuroplasticity, means that gray matter can thicken or shrink,

  • connections between neurons can be improved, new ones can be created, and old ones degraded

  • or even terminated. For a long time it was believed that once

  • yourchild brainwas fully developed, the only thing you could anticipate for the

  • future was a gradual decline. Now we know that our everyday behaviors literally change

  • our brains. And it seems that the same mechanisms which allow our brains to learn new languages

  • or sports can help us learn how to be happy. Neuroscientist Lara Boyd from the University

  • of British Columbia points out that the human brain changes in three ways to support learning

  • of new things: 1. CHEMICALTransfer of chemical signals

  • between neurons, which is linked to short-term learning improvements (e.g. of a memory or

  • a motor skill). 2. STRUCTURALChanges in connections between

  • neurons, which are linked to long-term learning improvements.

  • These mean that the brain regions that are important for specific behaviors may change

  • their structure or enlarge. These changes need more time to take place, which underlines

  • the importance of a dedicated practice. And number 3. FUNCTIONALIncreased excitability

  • of a brain region in relation to a certain behavior.

  • In essence, the more you use a particular brain region, the easier it is to trigger

  • its use again. IS HAPPINESS A GIFT OR A DEVELOPED SKILL?

  • If we embrace the idea that our well-being is a skill that can be cultivated, then it's

  • obvious that meditation is simply a form of exercise tailored for our brain. While there

  • is not enough scientific data available to measure the benefits of a 5-minute versus

  • a 30-minute mindfulness session, the way in which our brain changes over time suggests

  • that we can actively foster lasting results with regular practice.

  • Scientists from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison define

  • well-being from the viewpoint of these 4 areas: SUSTAINED POSITIVE EMOTION

  • In a study that examined response to positive images, individuals with higher activity in

  • those brain regions linked to positive emotions reported a higher level of psychological well-being.

  • RECOVERY FROM NEGATIVE EMOTION There is evidence that mindfulness training

  • leads to greater resilience to painful stimuli. In this study, experienced meditators reported

  • the same pain intensity as individuals with little mindfulness experience, but less unpleasantness.

  • PRO-SOCIAL BEHAVIOR AND GENEROSITY Behavior that increases social bonds and improves

  • the quality of social relationships increases well-being. Research then suggests that compassion

  • can be cultivated with mental training. MINDFULNESS AND MIND-WANDERING

  • Mindfulness, defined as paying attention to the present moment without judgment, makes

  • people happier. A study where a smartphone app was used to monitor people's thoughts,

  • feelings, and actions showed that their minds were wandering approximately half of the time,

  • and while doing so they reported significantly more unhappiness.

  • We tend to blame our brain a great dealfor inability to remember, for making us feel

  • bad, for being slow… — as if it was a capricious ruler whom the rest of our body

  • needs to follow no matter what. We refuse to assume responsibility for our brain's

  • health and our mind's happiness. If we did, we could experience this phenomenal organ

  • becoming our loyal friend rather than an eternal enemy.

  • We understand that to be able to run a 10k race or to do 50 pushups, we should exercise

  • regularly. Yet we get put off when our brain doesn't yield results instantly. Like: “Hey,

  • I've meditated for 20 min and I still feel awful. What a new-age hype!”

  • The human brain is extremely plastic and establishes new neural connections daily. These intricate

  • networks, however, need to be reinforced and consolidated through our behavior, just like

  • a path through a forest needs to be walked, otherwise it will be grown over and eventually

  • disappear. Meditation can relax you and regulate your

  • emotions in the short term, but it can also change your brain permanently if you approach

  • it as a form of mental exercise. Any type of learning is a highly individual

  • process, with the common denominator being plain hard work. And science shows that if

  • we invest our effort into reprogramming our brains, it can truly guide us towards a better

  • life. Do you meditate? If so how does it make you

  • feel? And if not would you consider it after watching this? Comment and lets have a discussion

  • below. Thanks again to Kristyna Zapletal for the

  • script for this video. You can find more about her and her inspiring articles in the description

  • below.

There are 80 to 100 billion neurons in a human brain, and every single one of them can form

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B1 brain mindfulness amygdala structure human brain behavior

MINDFULNESS - The amazing changes you can make TODAY in your brain.

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/26
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