Ever wonder what your body is going through when you deliberately shut it down for 10 to 20 minutes during a nice, solid bout of meditation?
Believe me, you're not alone, girl.
Those deep breathing exercises you're instructed to do during meditation aren't just for show.
As you sit still and demand your mind to calm the f*ck down, your psyche is actually undergoing some major positive changes.
Here are five things that happen to your brain not before or after, but exactly while you're meditating.
Cortisol is a hormone your body releases when you're stressed, so if your cortisol levels are low, that means you are #TooBlessedToBeStressed.
A study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health involved 30 medical students who had their blood tested to measure their cortisol levels before meditation.
After four days of mindful meditation, their blood levels were checked again. The findings revealed that the average level of cortisol significantly lowered post-meditation.
When you're meditating, your brain produces theta and alpha waves.
Theta waves usually occur when you are in your deepest phase of dreamless sleep.
Alpha waves occur when your mind is in an idle state, like when you're daydreaming.
This means that, though you are awake, meditation induces brain activity that happens when you are either in your most relaxed state, or when you are sleeping.
That is honestly beyond incredible.
Like, think about it: Even though you're technically awake, your brain is so ridiculously relaxed, it produces activity as if it you're freaking asleep.
I'm sorry, but you cannot tell me meditation is not a gift sent down from the heavens.
After all of that, you are in an ultimate relaxed state.
This is basically what people mean when they say that they feel “zen.”
You feel light, and free from worry -- you feel happy.
And you can thank good ol' dopamine for those positive vibes.
Dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter, is released into the body during pleasurable situations.
Meditation, my friend, is indeed, a very pleasurable situation.
The gray matter in your brain is located in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is crucial for learning and memory.
Gray matter can also be found in other parts of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and reflection.
In a 2009 study published in the journal NeuroImage, Eileen Luders, a researcher in the Department of Neurology at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, compared the brains of 22 meditators and 22 non-meditators of the same age.
Her results showed that the meditators had more gray matter in regions of the brain that are imperative for attention, emotion regulation, and mental flexibility. Luders believes increased gray matter can help people process information more efficiently and make more mindful choices.
It's safe to say, with all of that goodness listed, as you wipe your mental slate clean, your brain is literally re-configuring it self.
Your cortisol levels are lowering, gray matter is increasing, and alpha and theta waves are flowing.
Honestly, your brain sounds like a kickass, naturally high work of art.
So continue breathing in deep, and exhaling anything that doesn't serve you.
Your mind is undergoing a major glow-up!