meditation and emotion processing

How Meditation Influences Emotional Processing Even After Meditating


We all desire to be in control of our emotions. We would all love to be able to manage our anger, sadness, anxiety, disappointment, and many other negative feelings, but that is not always the case.

Meditation has been found to help with emotional control during our meditation sessions, and even long after we are done meditating. On top of that, it helps us balance our emotions in the long term.

Here, we are going to direct our focus and attention on how meditation helps us with emotional processing even when we are not meditating, that is, after we are done with our meditation sessions and we are going about our day.

How Meditation Influences Emotional Processing Even When You’re Not Meditating

A study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience revealed that meditation has the ability to influence the regions of the brain associated with emotional and memory processing even when someone is not meditating (1)(2).

The study was carried out by a group of researchers who collaborated with the University of Arizona, Emory University, Massachusetts General Hospital, The Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, and Boston University.

They took a group of participants and randomized them to three activities, that is, Cognitively-based Compassion Training (CBCT), Mindfulness Attention Training, and a control group that took part in health discussions.

The Cognitively-based Compassion Training was aimed at getting participants to be more kind and compassionate while the mindfulness attention training was more of an eight weeks course to help them improve their level of attention and awareness towards their thoughts, feelings, and breath.

The control group for health discussions was only focused on talking about various health topics.

After that, some participants were taken from each group and they had brain scans through the fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine as they were shown photos that were meant to stimulate different emotional responses such as negative, positive, or neutral emotions.

The results showed that those who had taken mindfulness attention training and Cognitively-based Compassion Training had a lower amount of activity in the region of the brain known to process emotions and the memory called the amygdala, compared to those in the control group.

What This means

These results mean that meditation helped them to regulate their emotions despite them not meditating while their emotions were being provoked.

And the fact that the researchers were also keen on them during the brain scans to make sure they were not involved in any form of meditation during the scan shows that meditation can be a powerful tool for long-lasting effects of emotional control.

Meditation appears to be positively affecting the amygdala by modulating the amount of activity taking place there, which in turn makes the meditator calmer and more composed in the face of stressful situations.

Another study that looked into how the practice of meditation changes the brain concluded that it reduces the size of the amygdala and makes it smaller, which accounts for the improved ability to handle stress and other negative emotions in long-term meditation practitioners (3).

Moreover, another study that investigated the effect of brief mindfulness meditation on mood state and emotional processing found that this form of meditation does influence the intensity of positive and negative emotions, negative emotional attention bias, and emotional memory (4).

A Call to Meditation

Now that we have seen how powerful meditation actually is, it is high time for you to begin practicing it if you already haven’t. Meditation carries with it an array of health-improving benefits that literally transform your life and help you become more in control of yourself, in terms of thoughts, feelings, and even actions.

Getting started with meditation is not that hard. All you have to do is decide which kind of benefits you would love to experience and enjoy from meditation and then go through the various types of meditation available and choose the one you feel offers you the benefits and is in line with your beliefs, perspectives on life and traditions.

After that, you can begin working with it using guided meditation where you will be walked through your sessions by a meditation expert. You can start with 2 to 5 minutes of guided meditation and slowly increase the duration of your meditation sessions as you feel more comfortable with the practice.

Soon enough you will be able to do it on your own and maybe you will have started experiencing its positive effects in your life.

We wish you the best as you commence your meditation journey and if you ever need any help with it, please feel free to let us know in the comments section and we will be more than happy to give you a hand. 🙂


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