Inspiration – TED Talks: How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains

Meditation has been always noted to be very helpful with regards to your mental health. It helps lessen stress, anxiety and panic. I want to have various meditation exercises within my app for students to use when they feel any of these ways. Before I begin to look at different types of exercises, I want to learn the science behind why meditation is so effective. With this in mind, I’m back with another TED Talks video as a source of Inspiration. Sara Lazar speaks about the power of meditation and how it can reshape our brains. You can watch the video below.

Sara speaks about trying yoga for the first time after sustaining an injury. She noted that the teacher would make all sorts of claims, such as it increases your compassion & opens your heart and she rolled her eyes at first – but after a few weeks she realised these things were happening to her so she decided to do some research on both yoga & meditation.

She mentioned the scientifically validated benefits of meditation and yoga:

  • Decreased stress
  • Reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, pain, and insomnia
  • Enhanced ability to pay attention
  • Increased quality of life

The reason behind these benefits is through neuroplasticity – so basically whenever you participate in a behaviour over and over, it leads to changes in your brain.

They used MRI’s to look at the brains of people who meditate everyday against people who don’t and they could see differences in their brains. They also got people who have never meditated before to meditate for 8 weeks and checked the differences in their brain before and after. Areas that are used for learning, memory, and emotion regulation became bigger, also areas that are for perspective thinking, compassion and empathy were bigger too. There was a decrease in grey matter for the area in control of the “fight or flight” reaction –  and it’s worth noting that the change in the grey matter in this area correlated with the change in stress. People were still in their stressful jobs, dealing with stressful situations but ultimately felt less stress because this area had gotten smaller – all because of meditation.

This talk was insightful and I learned about both the benefits of meditation and also the science behind these benefits. It’s clear, even from just the benefits, that meditation is basically an essential component of coping with and managing your mental health. This talk really showed me that meditation exercises should be a feature of my app as it will be extremely beneficial to the students who use it.


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