Human knowledge is constantly evolving and changing, yet most of us believe scientific theories to be fact rather than working understandings of a topic.

But they are theories, and our understanding of ‘what is’ continues to change. These are always difficult times, because long-held beliefs enforced by scientific dogma are, for many people, difficult to adjust or relinquish. Anger and disbelief are common reactions, no matter how thoroughly an old theory is disproven. Just think back to when we discovered the Earth was round, not flat, or that Earth was not the center of the universe — the Catholic Church went so far as to persecute and even put to death scientists and ‘free-thinkers’ who opposed them.

Fast forward to today and, fortunately, much has changed. Although several industries that we rely upon are plagued by corruption, fraud, and disinformation, some would argue that it’s not as bad as it used to be, as evinced by the scientific study of concepts once deemed to be spiritual ‘nonsense’ by the community, like meditation, or non-material science.

Over the past few years alone, a wealth of scientific data has outlined the many benefits meditation can have on our biology, furthering strengthening the scientific validity of the mind-body connection.

For example, an eight-week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation can literally rebuild the brain’s grey matter in just eight weeks. It’s the very first study to document that meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter. They also released a study showing that meditation can have a significant impact on clinical symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study showed that elicitation of the relaxation response (a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress) improves symptoms in all these disorders. It was also recently discovered that meditation creates a distinct network of anti-aging genes and improves cellular health.

This time, new research from the UCLA School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology has shown that long-term meditators have younger brains, with higher concentrations of tissue in the brain regions most depleted by aging. The study found that meditation can protect against the decline we normally see occurring through old age and keep our brains young.

According to the study, “On average, the brains of long-term meditators were 7.5 years younger at age 50 than the brains of non-meditators, and an additional 1 month and 22 days younger for every year after 50.”

Pretty remarkable, isn’t it? Some showed a brain that is a full decade younger.

The study used brain imaging data from a previous study that had examined the impact of meditation on cortical thickness. To compare the brains of meditators aged 50 and over to the ones of non-meditating controls, they went through the data. Both groups included 22 women and 28 men with an average age of 51.4 years. Meditators had close to 20 years of meditation experience on average, though experienced ranged from 4 to 46 years.

A press release by the university explains further:

It is important to note that this study relied on estimates of brain change based on age and not actual values. Although these findings are consistent with prior research that detected significant differences in brain structure among meditators compared to non-meditating controls, results of the present study are inferential, and do not answer questions regarding how many years of meditation are necessary to attain this effect, or whether structural brain change directly corresponds to cognitive, behavioral, or psychosocial functioning.

The authors conclude by hypothesizing several different explanations for the results they observed. Firstly, meditation could be stimulating growth in neural structures and promote increased connectivity and efficiency within neural networks. Secondly, it buffers the brain and nervous system against the deleterious effects of chronic stress, which may reduce pro-inflammatory response, stimulate telomerase activity, and inhibit age-related brain change”

This is precisely why these practices are being introduced into the workplace and at school.

These current findings can now be added to a long and growing list suggesting that meditation (along with other mindfulness-based practices) does wonders for our biology, and is another great example of how, sometimes, we don’t need scientists to validate something that is clearly already known. This isn’t the first time ancient wisdom has been validated by modern science, and it certainly won’t be the last.

How to Meditate

A common misconception about meditation is that you have to sit a certain way or do something in particular to achieve the various benefits that it can provide. All you have to do is place yourself in a position that is most comfortable to you. It could be sitting cross-legged on the floor, relaxing in a chair, or lying down in a bed — it’s your choice.

Another common misconception about meditation is that you have to “try” to empty your mind. One important factor I enjoyed reading from the study mentioned above is that participants were engaged in “non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.” When meditating, you shouldn’t try to “empty” your mind. Instead, try to let your thoughts, feelings, and whatever emotions you are experiencing at the time flow. Don’t judge them and don’t attach to them; just let them come and go and recognize that they are transitory.

I also believe that meditation is a state of being/mind more than anything else. One does not have to sit down for half an hour and “meditate,” so to speak, in order to reap the benefits of it, or to be engaged in the practice itself. One can be engaged in meditation while walking, for example, or while preparing for sleep. Throughout the day, one can resist judging their thoughts, letting them flow until they are no more, or just be in a constant state of peace and self-awareness. Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way to meditate.

Watch: Increase Your Conscious Awareness

“You will have to understand one of the most fundamental things about meditation: that no technique leads to meditation. The old so-called techniques and the new scientific bio-feedback techniques are the same as far as meditation is concerned. Meditation is not a byproduct of any technique. Meditation happens beyond mind. No technique can go beyond mind.”

– Osho

That being said, partaking in the style of meditation that involves actively sitting down, breathing, and concentrating on quieting your mind or on a specific intent can be particularly helpful.

Ream more articles on meditation from Visual Meditation by clicking here.

This article was originally created and published by Collective Evolution.

Did you know that the words literally change your brain?

Words are powerful. So much that a single word can cause irreparable damage. On the other hand, words can heal wounds from decades before. What we speak can work both sides of the coin, you see, and so words should never be dished out haphazardly. We underestimate the power of words, really we do.

Honestly, it goes a little deeper than that. Words can, over time, make a physical change as well. Words can change your brain, changing physical regions of the mind and widening pathways of information! Bet you didn’t know that, now did you?

So there are positive words and negative words, each with a monumental power to change your entire life. Whether you fail epically or succeed in the same manner is all up to which words you choose to say. Let’s talk about these opposite influences for a moment, shall we.

First, let’s talk about positive words

It’s not always easy to be positive or think positive, but when you do, you may notice how different you feel afterwards? You might feel energized, hopeful and even more sociable toward others. Even when the situation isn’t savory, being positive can help keep your focus on a logical solution. Being positive actually looks beyond the present situation even when life isn’t going so well and it helps you look at the bigger picture.

Words of this nature help to breed respect, active listening and problem solving, all of which are imperative to making proper decisions. Positive words can increase cognitive reasoning and areas in the frontal lobe can become stronger. Positive words are also responsible for activating motivational regions of the brain. See, there are many changes which occur according to what you say.

Negative words change your brain too

Unfortunately, the world is more familiar with negative words. Stress from day to day life causes us to sometimes lose sight of the end goal and we bend to our weaknesses. We are changed by these negative emotions in ways we could never imagine. Like positive words, negative statements have the power to alter our physical mind.

Words spoken in a negative manner block neurochemicals which normally provide stress management. For instance, the amygdala (the fear center), has an increase in activity due to an increase in these stress hormones. These hormones block the reasoning process which usually keeps us functioning normally.

In the book, Words can change your Brain, by Andrew Newburg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman one sentence says it all.

A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

Now that you have an idea how words can change your brain, let’s use our positive thinking to look at that big picture I spoke of earlier. Words not only cause transformations; they cause permanent changes which leave deep imprints on the brain’s structures -these imprints can widen the neural pathways.

Neural pathways are where our thoughts travel. If you want to understand what these pathways are, then picture highways, roads or dirt paths. Since we know that neuroplasticity allows changes in the brain according to life experiences, neural pathways can absorb the same changes and form according to the imprint. So that leads back to repetition. Anything done over and over will surely have a lasting effect on the human mind.

Aristotle says,

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

I could say so much more, but I think you’ve got the picture. You must pay attention to what you say because your words determine everything you will ever experience. Yes, it depends on you! Choose your words carefully and create thought habits that will prove beneficial for your brain. After all, we are what we say we are.

References:

Most of the times we resist change, instead of embracing it and see at what places may lead us.

I am a creature of habit. So it stands to reckon that I do not like change. Sometimes, however, change is the only solution. You can resist change, but this doesn’t always work, even when you’re wrapped from head to toe in your own comfort zone. You see, some things are just destined to evolve, and every one of us are prone to shrinking away from time to time. Even small changes can feel monstrous. What we want to know is why.

Why we resist change

The word comfort zone sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Yeah, we all have one of those. Unfortunately, our comfort zone can inhibit us from the unknown. This is not good. So why do we resist change so much?

Neuroscience has a few answers for that. For instance, the left prefrontal region is more associated with resiliency or allowing new things happen to us in life. On the other hand, the right side of the prefrontal region lights up when we are trying to avoid something, the same region works with negative emotions.

Some studies have shown that the brain can detect change as a threat. According to neuroscience, the ability to change depends on the condition of neuroplasticity within the brain, so it’s not like we don’t have the potential. But there is uncertainty and possible danger involved with doing things in a different manner, and the brain recognizes this as well. Could it be that we are experiencing that well-known ‘fight or flight’ mode?

Who is most resistant to changes?

Those in leadership are always subject to changes, and loss of control can be especially challenging. A transfer in positions can sometimes be devastating to someone who has held leadership for a long period of time. It comes with the territory, to be honest. Some changes of this nature can come as a complete surprise as well.

Changes which come as surprises can be the worst. When there is no warning, the brain automatically chooses ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’. It’s by instinct and the animalistic impulse to protect itself against something crashing onto the scene. Sometimes these sudden changes can be confusing and cause deep chaos to our routine.

Physical symptoms can arise during dramatic changes -namely sudden headaches, rapid heartbeat and even shaking hands. It’s truly astonishing to witness the effect of a sudden change upon some individuals. Although this may seem abnormal, it’s common to witness such effects when there is no warning as to what is about to occur. These things can be devastating in special circumstances.

The fear of change

Questions may also arise as to whether or not you can work with the changes. If you perceive any difficulties, you may also resist change out of fear. You may find yourself wondering if you are even capable of completing the new tasks, meeting the new people or living in a new location -this can occur in so many areas of life and this leaves multiple questions about how to cope with the differences.

There is a factor that everyone should also consider when changes occur. Whatever you endure not only affects you, but it also has a ripple effect, which in turn changes things in the lives of those you know. If you are interested in shifting emphasis from the right prefrontal to the left, then you must remember to be forgiving with yourself. Sometimes, your resistance will win and that’s okay. It’s a process, after all. In ways, you can look at it like a contrast, as the failures of resistance make the changes all the more beautiful when achieved, even smooth in some cases.

So don’t resist change!

Acceptance of change simply means the willingness to adapt. First off, you have to realize that some changes are just a part of life and cannot be avoided. The positive side of this inevitable truth is that some alterations can actually improve your way of life, even if you don’t’ understand the present circumstances. Even though you may feel trapped by the demands, if you try to have a different perspective, these changes can reveal a sense of freedom in other areas of life. You can even go as far as to create a few changes just to challenge yourself.

And if you remember that doing things in a different way has the ability to strengthen your character, it will not seem like such a monster and you will not have to resist change. As change has negative ripples, it can also have positive waves that influence great promotions. You never know to what places change may lead you. It will certainly help if you pay more attention to the bigger picture than how the details affect only you! Sometimes selfishness is the real reason you resist change.

Find someone who has endured many changes and pay attention to their attitude. Are they always angry and resentful or do they seem stable minded and strong? You will want to learn from someone who has taken away positive aspects of their ever-evolving life in order to feel confident about what you are experiencing. Remember, change can be good! Give it a shot!

References:

Is it actually true that we can form a new habit in just 21 days?

Everyone knows about the “power of habit.” Whatever we do or think, is dominated by the firing of our brain synapses between neurons (brain cells) that “lead” communication within the brain. When a behavior, action or any pattern repeats continuously, a network of neurons created on the specific (or thought or action patterns).

As a result, these firings make the behaviors seem “natural”. For example, the move-set of morning awakening (eg. tooth brushing-coffee-cigarette), is practically instinctive, automatic. One action triggers the next.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, in the 1950s began to observe a strange pattern among his patients. When he would perform an operation – like a nose job, for example – he found that they needed about 21 days to get used to seeing their new face. Similarly, when a patient had an arm or a leg amputated, Maltz noticed that the patient would sense a phantom limb for about 21 days before adjusting to the new situation.

These observations led Maltz to think about his own period to adapt to changes and new behaviors, and he noticed that it also took himself about 21 days to create a new habit. Maltz wrote about these experiences and said “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”

At 1960, Maltz published this quote and other thoughts on the behavior change in his book Psycho-Cybernetics. The book went on to become blockbuster best-seller, selling over 30 million copies.

At the following decades, through various self-help “gurus”, the people started to forget that Maltz said “a minimum of about 21 days” and shortened it to “It takes 21 days to form a new habit.”

So, what is the answer?

 

How Long Does it Take to Develop a New Habit?

Phillippa Lally is a health psychology researcher at University College London. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Lally and her research team decided to figure out just how long it actually takes to form a habit.

The study examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person chose one new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.

Some people chose simple habits like drinking a bottle of water with lunch. Others chose more difficult tasks like running for 15 minutes before dinner or do 50 sit-ups after the morning coffee. At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers analyzed the data to determine how long it took each person to go from starting a new behavior to automatically doing it.

The answer was that, on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.*

In other words, if you want to create a new behavior, it will probably take you from two months to eight months

Another interesting point that researchers found, is that not performing the behavior always, ie if lost some days, do not substantially affect the process of habit formation.

How to Manage the Formation of New Habits

Let’s see how to handle the issue of forming new habits, to not get discouraged:

First, there is no reason to give up if you try to do something new and see that it doesn’t become a habit within the first weeks. As mentioned, supposedly gets more. Prefer the slow and long path and focus on repetition.

Second, it’s not necessary to be perfect. Making a mistake or missing 2-3 days has no measurable impact on long-term results.

Third, prefer longer timeframes. Developing new habits is a process, not an event. You should like the whole process and embrace it. this will help you to commit yourself making small incremental improvements.

In conclusion, if a behavior is repeated often enough and for a long time, these neural pathways will increasingly grow and form your new habit! The human brain is a very adaptive “machine”. All brains are different, and the formation of new habits based on aspects of the experience and personality of the individual.

*Even though the study only ran for 12 weeks, the researchers were able to use the data to estimate the longer timelines (like 254 days) to form habits.

References:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/form-a-habit.htm

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/02/how-long-it-takes-to-form-a-new-habit/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/forming-new-habits_b_5104807.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/

What if I told you that you are the creator of your life? You are the master of your own reality! Would you believe me?

Some of these may sound familiar to you: “I am not successful/happy because of my partner/my parents who did not give me the right start in life; I’m too old to do what I want to do; I do not have the right resources to succeed…

Excuses… We are hiding behind them, hoping that some kind of ‘secret’ will save us. We keep on visualizing our ideal life, without taking any actions towards it.

If you leave that comfort zone of yours, who knows, you may fail… or you might succeed! You are afraid; consciously or not, you sabotage your own happiness. But why? What’s behind these fears and self limiting beliefs that are holding you back from living your dream? Why after reading all those self help books, studying those getting-rich-quick formulas, attending several seminars and workshops are you still living that mediocre life?

Let me share a secret with you. A secret behind any universal law. A secret that is not a secret anymore, because it is behind all realities in this universe.

This information will (hopefully) wake you up, and you will be brave enough to take responsibility of your own life! Because the only war you need to win in this life, is the war against yourself!

Let’s start with Albert Einstein. He wrote:

Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get they reality. This is not philosophy. This is physics.

Quantum physics supports his theory and proves to us that the universe – everything that surrounds you, everything you see and smell, and you yourself – is made of atoms. Those atoms can be split into protons, neutrons and electrons. When we zoom in, we’ll find quarks. Those small particles are submissive to our brain waves.

As Einstein wrote, EVERYTHING is energy. Even your thoughts. And this can be recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG), showing how your brain waves change frequency depending on positive or negative thoughts.

Your thoughts have a direct influence on your physical body as well. Modern science has proven what effects positive or negative emotions have on our wellbeing, success and even happiness. Depending on your emotions, you take a decision, which leads to a certain result in your life.

Just think about the influence of your thoughts on those tiny particles which our entire world is made of! Amazing, isn’t it? So remember, the result you have now in your life started with a thought!

Nikola Tesla said it best:

The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence. To understand the true nature of the universe, one must think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.

Awareness is the first step to mastering your reality. Did you know that only 4% of your choices is made by using your conscious mind? The rest are unconscious choices. Just think about it! That’s why mindfulness is such a popular word these days. It forces you to switch off the autopilot and observe.

Do you look around sometimes and realize that your current life is not the life you’ve been dreaming of? That it’s not how you imagined it to be?

Our subconscious mind is in control of our life, but it’s also a mind of habits. That’s why it’s not easy to change the way you think and stop those negative emotions, feelings, beliefs that control your life.

So here it comes to the neuroscience! Modern neuroscience has proven that all our emotions (fears, doubts) are nothing more or less than neural connections, which you once have created (probably unconsciously) in your brain.

But that also means that you can create new neural connections – better and more positive ones. That will help you create your new life, where you will be in control over your habits, where you will have the right perspective on life, where you will be happy in the relationships and where you will live your dreams instead of chasing them! That is called neuroplasticity.

So, wake up! Become aware of your thoughts, because like attracts like. Take control of your emotional state and train your brain! Remember that in life it’s all about Quantum Physics and Neuroscience. Understanding those laws gives you this great power of creating your own reality!

Related: What Is Reality?

This article was originally posted on learning-mind.com and used here with permission.

About the author

Yulia Stark is the author of the self development book “Master your Reality”. A book that not only inspires people to live their live to the fullest, a life without regrets, but also shows how to leave the mediocrity behind and finally live the life of your dreams! Yulia just loves Public Speaking, where she can inspire people to be more aware. Her life credo is: “The best way to predict your future is to create it”  (A. Lincoln)