We all desire to have a healthy and well functioning brain with good memory. And while many of us are not good at remembering things, we tend to result to methods known to better the memory to help us with that area.
Meditation is among the popular techniques for improving various aspects of the brain, including memory.
We look at how it helps with that and how to get you started on memory improvement with meditation.
Brain Studies on Meditation and Memory
Lots of studies have been carried out to determine if and how meditation can boost the memory. And most of them have indicated that regular meditation brings some significant enhancement to the memory as well as other cognitive functions that increase the overall cognitive performance (1)(2)(3)(4)(5).
According to a study done by Sarah Lazar, a neuroscientist of Yoga and meditation in Harvard, together with her team, regular mindfulness based meditation and mindfulness training brings improvements to the hippocampus by increasing the cortical thickness. The hippocampus is associated with memory and learning (6).
Another study revealed that meditation increases the flow of blood to the brain, which strengthens the network of blood vessels in the cerebral cortex, a part of the brain that is linked to memory, learning and concentration.
Yet another mindfulness based study concluded that a few weeks of mindfulness training improves the capacity of the working memory and GRE performance and also reduces the wandering nature of the mind (7).
Researchers on meditation and the brain found that the numerous studies done on the brain have confirmed the ability of meditation to bring down the signs of brain degeneration, improving brain performance and making the long term memory together with the working memory function better (8)(9).
Overall, meditation has been shown to make noteworthy enhancements to the areas of the brain that are linked to memory, focus, concentration, attention and learning.
Popular Meditation Styles That Enhance Memory
There are many types of meditation out there which help better the life of the meditator in different ways. Some of these types have brought better results in boosting the memory compared to others.
Mindfulness meditation is one of them. This meditation style helps you be and remain in the present moment without making any judgments or opinions. It gives the platform to learn to be purely aware of what is happening in the present moment.
Studies have shown that doing this practice regularly may increase the density of the gray matter in the brain especially in the parts that are associated with learning abilities, regulation of emotions, perspective thinking, self-referential processing and memory processes (10).
Another form of mindfulness practice that has also been beneficial in this area is the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Working with MBSR for 2 months showed the ability to increase the cortical thickness in the hippocampus, as earlier mentioned.
Kirtan Kriya is another form of meditation that makes it possible for people to work on challenging tasks that are memory related without struggling (12).
This meditation combines finger movements and mantra that aim at helping the meditator improve their focus and direct their attention easily.
Other than bettering your memory, it is known to help with increasing blood flow to the brain and reducing stress, among many other benefits.
How to Get Started With Meditation
Beginning the practice of meditation is as easy as choosing the meditation you feel is the right one for you based on the list of benefits you are looking for.
After getting your right fit, you should then make an effort of learning how it is done and then be doing it regularly.
The secret of meditation is in maximizing the value of each session and meditating as often as you can.
Once you learn how to do your preferred meditation style, you should make a point of mastering it by practicing it frequently. Keep in mind that practice practice makes perfect.
Make meditation your new habit and add it to your daily schedule so that it becomes a serious exercise for you.
It is essential to make meditation part of your lifestyle if you want it to work for you. When you take it up as a habit, you will find yourself wanting to meditate more than you have set for yourself as you will start experiencing the benefits it brings and you will love them.
Many people start enjoying some of the benefits of meditation a few days or weeks into the practice. Although this differs from one person to another, some common benefits people get a short while after starting the practice include feelings of deep calmness, balanced moods, slight memory improvement, mental clarity and focus (13)(14).
Other long term benefits come with time. That is why you need to be patient and realistic as you start to meditate. You should not expect instant results.
Also, it is worth noting that meditation can be a little discouraging at first. You will have good as well as fairly okay experiences with your meditation sessions.
But if you see all the experiences as necessary occurrences for you to become better at it, you are going to have a smooth experience.
You can get started with guided meditation for your chosen type of meditation to help you learn to meditate while still having a full experience of the exercise.
In summary, meditation is an ancient tradition that has been practiced for centuries and its benefits have been enjoyed by those who took it seriously and got committed to it.
You should make meditation a habit of yours if you desire to see your memory improve as well as see other benefits of meditation.
It is all about choosing the right type of meditation for you, getting started with it right away and sticking to it. We wish you the best as you begin your meditation journey and hope that you will make it part of your life.