THE POWER OF MEDITATION and Focused Concentration

As human beings trying to make our way in this world we all require a very important skillset that is learning FOCUS and CONCENTRATION. In whatever field of life we work in, and especially as doctors taking care someone’s health we require utmost concentration to perform surgeries , see patients in the OPD and analyze each patients differential diagnosis. At every stage of life both professionally and personally we require concentration in everything we do. Concentration is a practice where an individual uses techniques= such as mindfulness or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity= to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. MEDITATION is one such super key to developing concentration and hacking into a flow state. Lets see some data below,

An eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital determined that meditation actually rebuilds the brain’s grey matter in just eight weeks. It was the first study to document that meditation produces changes in grey matter over time. Scientists noted an increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

Participant-reported reductions in stress which was correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. The study also showed activation the amygdala(left) when participants were watching images with emotional content before learning meditation . After 8 weeks of training in mindful attention meditation (right) note the amygdala is less activated after the meditation training.

After 8 weeks of training in mindful attention meditation note the amygdala (role in anxiety and stress) is less activated after the meditation training ; The grey matter in hippocampus responsible for learning, memory, compassion and introspection is increased in density.

The Brains of Meditators Produce More Beneficial Rhythms

In a recent study published in the neuroscience journal Brain Research Bulletin, it was shown that the brains of people who meditate had elevated alpha rhythms. The brain has five different wave frequencies: Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, and Gamma.

In your normal waking consciousness, you are in the beta state. In this state you are fully awake and alert. However, too much time spent in the beta state can lead to excess stress, worry, and anxiety.

The alpha state has been associated with extreme focus, relaxation, learning, creativity, and peak performance. With higher alpha wave activity comes better focus and awareness. Meditation elevates alpha rhythms in the brain.

Imagine having the mental ability to ‘turn down’ stress or decrease pain.

By training the mind to focus on a certain stimulus for a period of time, it allows you to amplify positive feelings and decrease negative ones. This in and of itself is a profound benefit with the ability to change the way you see and interact with the world. In a world filled with stress and worry; meditation presents a safe way to force the maximum limit higher making us impermeable to stress.

Another beneficial effect shown in this study was that the group that meditated was better able to recall new facts and pieces of information. Alpha brainwave patterns have been associated with super learning and creativity. Highly creative people have been shown to have ‘bursts’ of alpha brainwaves when they have good ideas.

Hacking into a flow state/Focused state of mind :-

Most of us have never been taught how to focus. The entire concept that focus and concentration is a skill set that must be practiced in order to develop has almost never been taught to us. Just like we work out any muscle in our body in order to make it strong and powerful , our mind also requires a daily dose of working out to prepare itself for periods of concentration and focus.

Some steps that can be taken in order to develop this are

  1. Remove distractions . Our brain loves to get distracted. If we let it get distracted easily we will never really learn to focus into a flow state. The more we practice staying focused on our goals the better we will get at being focused ; the more we practice distractions the better we will be at getting distracted. We get good at whatever we allow ourselves to practice.
  2. STOP and Hack Akrasia – Akrasia is a lack of self control or state of acting against one’s better judgment. Practice will power and self control. Again the more we use it and practice will power the better we will get at it.
  3. Set clear goals everyday and check them out once they are done.
  4. Learn Speed Study/reading techniques- Active recall, Spaced repetition, listening to study music (Classical Baroque=60 beats/min)
  5. Meditation-Sharpen the saw of concentration and focus using meditation techniques to increase the power of your mind.

Dr.Sneha K Jayaswal

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