I have found my memory has definitely improved, especially my memory of what I have read which is good news because I found that quite challenging at university. I also remember conversations more vividly. My mind seems to be focussing on the relevant things rather than the distractions it sometimes gets caught up in.
Sean, teacher, Essex
Stress and the brain
We live in an information age, where we are constantly bombarded with information. If we don’t find a way to develop our processing capabilities, we will find ourselves ever more overwhelmed.
The fact is, stress inhibits our short-term and long-term memory functions, and especially our ability to remember facts and figures.
And that’s not all. Living a busy, modern life creates stimulation within the nervous system - and over-stimulated thinking, which makes it harder to concentrate.
The two areas of the brain that play the biggest roles in memory function are the cortex and the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for inputting data into storage, and accessing it as and when required - much like the keyboard and mouse functions of your computer. The cortex is more like the hard drive - the place where all your memories are stored.
When we are stressed, the steroid hormones that are released inhibit the birth of new brain cells in the hippocampus and the growth of new processes in pre-existing brain cells of the cortex. The unfortunate result is reduced memory capacity and recall.
How can Vedic meditation help?
When we meditate, the hippocampus stops shrinking under the stress response and actually starts growing to its fullest potential.1 At the same time, the cortex becomes much more active and actually starts growing thicker.
To continue the computing analogy, Vedic meditation not only de-frags our hard drive, it builds more memory in and gives us an upgraded processor and user interface!
Put simply, your access to, and storage of, memory improves when you meditate.
With meditation we reduce our responsiveness to stress stimuli, which means less frequent shut-downs of critical functioning, such as long and short term memory.
What’s more, Vedic meditation creates greater brainwave coherence. The regions of the brain associated with learning and concentration become more active and our abilities improve significantly.
We also benefit from the formation of new connections between brain cells - also known as neurons. The vastly expanded brainwave coherence that comes with this technique gives us greater access to the deep reservoirs of information that can be found within our sub-conscious.
Simultaneous to this, due to the calming effects of the meditation, we experience less excitation of the nervous system, resulting in less trivial noise in the mind.
As a result, we are better able to concentrate on important tasks, without having to strain.
The less scattered our nervous impulses and the more coherent our thinking, the more capable we are of processing lots of information and stimulus simultaneously, allowing us to stay on-task even in the face of multiple demands.
Not only does stress interfere with functions such as attention, memory, organisation and integration but prolonged stress actually kills brain cells and shrinks the brains main memory structures.
William Stixrud, clinical neuropsychologist at George Washington School of Medicine
What's the proof?
Practise of Vedic meditation significantly increases ‘field intelligence’. This is associated with greater clarity of thought, improved memory, greater organisation of the mind and other valuable developments.2
This practise has also been demonstrated to improve short-term memory3 and working memory.4