With the school year officially in swing, believe it or not, midterm tests are soon approaching. With an increase in assignments, papers to grade, and tests to take, stress levels are bound to increase as well. This year, instead of letting stress control our minds, let’s fight back. Mediation has been proven to relax and calm us down, but it also might be true that it can make us smarter as well. So this semester, let’s be smart and give mediation a try!
Meditation is often thought of as a way to relax and, indeed, through studies, Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School “found that his test subjects heartbeats and breathing had slowed [… and] found that meditation was helpful in stopping or slowing obsessive thinking, anxiety, depression, and hostility,” according to Psychology Today, a website dedicated to psychology.
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In addition, the informational website How Stuff Works explains that “FMRI scans have revealed that regular meditation also affects the actual structure of the brain. Researchers believe that memory, function, attention span, and focus all benefit from meditation”; plus, it is the perfect opportunity to unwind from your busy day. But how does our brain show signs of higher intelligence through meditation? Citizenduim, a general knowledge encyclopedia, explains that “In some areas of the human brain, gyrification [the wrinkly appearance of the brain] appears indeed to reflect functional development and thus to correlate with measures of intelligence.” Furthermore, a 2012 study published in the science magazine Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that “positive correlations between gyrification and the number of meditation years were similarly pronounced in the right anterior dorsal insula [the part of the brain that is involved in consciousness, emotion, and modifying homeostasis.]” The study found that those who mediated had a higher amount of “wrinkles” in their brain, which means those people might actually be smarter.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience points out that “given that meditators are masters in introspection, awareness, and emotional control, increases in insular gyrification may reflect an integration of autonomic, affective, and cognitive processes,” which may make those who meditate naturally smarter people. They do state, however, that “further research is necessary to determine the relative contribution of nature and nurture to links between cortical gyrification and meditation.”
Exploration of Consciousness Research Institute (EOC Institute) – a website dedicated to researching brainwave entertainment and meditation – explains that “Two key memory associated areas of the brain, the hippocampus and frontal brain lobe, both show significantly increased activity during meditation […causing] both long and short term memory capacity to increase.” So if you feel like your brain could use some extra help absorbing and retaining information, EOC Institute states “there are certain things we can do to improve our brain performance,” and meditation does seem to be one of them.
Verdict: Fact. Research has shown that meditation is linked with intelligence; however, more research needs to be done to further examine and explain the effects. Try incorporating meditation into your daily routine, not only will it help you relax but it might also give you a boost on your next exam.
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Would you practice meditation?
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