Boost your brain with exercise, breathing and meditation
Sadly, our brain peeks in our twenties and at the tender age of thirty our memory, attention and focus start to decline. We don’t really know why, but scientists postulate that it might be because the brain is less able to formulate new connections or easily modulate the weight of connections between nerve cells. New research brings to light the encouraging findings that we can improve brain function through brain exercise, pranayama breathing and meditation.
What happens to our brain function and, specifically, our memory after thirty?
Short term memory diminishes after thirty
It is our short term memory, rather than our long term memory that is affected after thirty. We can remember a first kiss or a cheeky skinny dip with a handsome lover in our teens but might not be able to remember what we had for breakfast that very morning. This could be for a couple of different reasons. Firstly our brain might actually shrink as our brain cells begin to function less efficiently and start to die. Secondly the connections made in our brain might diminish in their capacity. Thirdly, neuro-chemical transmitters have problems as we age.
Despite the gloomy prognosis after a certain age, it is believed that mental (and physical) exercise, pranayama breathing and meditation can boost brain function to enhance memory, attention, focus and our general well being.
Boost your brain function with mental exercise
It is recommended that you stay mentally active to protect your brain. According to Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry and aging at UCLA, college graduates have a lower risk of developing Alzheimers. They have found a huge correlation between educational status and cognitive function, supporting the use it or lose it school of thought. His look, snap, connect method of brain exercise might be helpful in recording your memories more effectively. Look is about focusing your attention on any one thing. Snap is about taking a mental snapshot of the moment, event or thing. Connect is about linking up a series of mental snapshots for a visual representation of what you’re trying to remember. This brain training can reduce everyday memory lapses.
Neuroscientist Ottavio Avancio from Columbia University has discovered that learning and remembering are dependent on how active we are. The use it or lose it school of thought seems to be supported by those researching in the field. It seems to be equally important that we enjoy what we are doing, If you don’t, you’re less likely to be involved and therefore less interested. This results in lower engagement levels and therefore reduces our ability to record and remember things.
Training our brain to focus attention and consciously record our memories could be a key to boosting our brain function and memory after thirty.
Boost your brain function with pranayama breathing
According to Suzi Grant in her book Alternative Ageing (pg. 206) pranayama breathing increases your intake of oxygen to give you life, energy and a sharp brain. By inhaling through alternate nostrils, you send the breath to each side of the brain, balancing alternate hemispheres. Left brain functions are logic, language and figures. Right brain functions are creativity, imagination and intuition. This practice is known as neuromuscular integration and means that you are integrating more mind and body to generate greater clarity and energy.
Pranayama breathing can play a key role in boosting brain function by improving clarity, focus and energy.
Boost your brain function with meditation
Recent research shows meditation does boost health and well-being as has been thought for hundreds of years. Studies conducted by Richard Davidson, Harvard University graduate, found that meditation seems to alter the ratio of gamma waves to alpha and beta waves by thirty times. Gamma waves play a role in attentive focus, alpha waves play a role in relaxation and beta waves play a role in normal waking consciousness. The increased ratio of gamma waves shows that meditation can effectively help us to engage better in our day to day lives.
Not only this, meditation is also a key factor in increasing amounts of gray matter in certain parts of the brain. In 2014 Eileen Luders found that those who had long term meditation experience had more gray matter in areas of the brain responsible for emotion and response control. In addition, they had more gray matter in the thalamus region, an area thought to be responsible for an enhanced sense of focus. These findings helps us develop a clearer understanding of why those who meditate seem to be more positive, experience greater emotional stability and display more mindful behavior.
Meditation is therefore a key tool in boosting brain activity and helping us lead more engaged lives.
Exercise, breathing and meditation are effective in boosting brain function
The use it or lose it school of thought is the key to mindful engagement in our daily lives. Mental exercise can help boost our memory. Breathing can help boost our energy, vitality and mental sharpness. Meditation can help us to mindfully engage more efficiently in everything we do. It is possible to train our brain and improve brain function after thirty.
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