Meditation may significantly improve our physical and mental health. But it's not as easy as it looks. Imagine it: you're sitting there, trying to let go of every thought and just be. But then, you start thinking about what you're going to have for dinner and whether you paid your phone bill, etc., etc.
So, how do we achieve optimal awareness when our thoughts won't leave us alone? Some brain-boosting nootropics for meditation may help.
Below, we will highlight the benefits of meditation and practical steps to help you let go. Then, we'll discuss some of the brain functions that are involved in meditation. Finally, we'll talk about some of the nootropic brain supplements that may help you achieve and sustain that elusive Zen state.
The Origins and Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is the act of letting go of all thoughts and memories in order to achieve full awareness of the present. Its purpose is to help us achieve self-transformation on various levels by allowing us to disconnect from our thoughts.
Where did Meditation Originate?
Experts generally agree that it originated over 5,000 years ago in Eastern Asia. It was first documented as a practice by the Vedas of ancient India around 1,500 BCE.
Now, it's obvious that meditation has benefits. Otherwise, why would it still be so popular after thousands of years? Below, we'll get into what those benefits are and how you might go about unlocking them.
What are the Benefits of Meditation?
Humans have a lot to gain from meditation. For one, it's an amazing tool for anxiety and stress relief. But it can have many other benefits as well. It has even proven to help relieve symptoms for those with ADHD<1> and inflammation caused by stress.<2> Here's what we've found.<3>
Meditation's many positive effects may be attributed to the calm yet attentive self-awareness it provides. It involves different variations of breathing and focusing in order to separate ourselves from nagging thoughts, stimuli and emotions.
But there's one primary reason it is so beneficial: Meditation can literally change the structure of our brains.
How Meditation Changes Our Brains
Studies have shown that consistent, prolonged meditation creates changes in the amygdala, the hippocampus, and possibly the insula in human brains. These changes affected self-reported capacity for learning, memory, compassion, introspection, and self-awareness in meditators after just eight weeks.
In addition, meditation alters our individual brainwaves. When we meditate, we reduce the number of beta waves in the brain. Beta waves are associated with processing information. Then, our brain replaces beta waves with alpha waves, which are associated with mental clarity and harmony.
But if you're having trouble slipping into a deep meditative state, you may miss out on these positive changes in brain structure. Thus, you should figure out which style of meditation works best for you and if you need any extra help.
Different Styles of Meditation
There are several different styles of meditation that can change our brains for the better. Below, we've listed and explained some of the most common.
Focused or Presence Meditation
Focused or presence meditation involves choosing something to focus on intently in order to let go of thoughts. Your focus can be on anything involving your five senses. For example, paying attention to the breath is common in meditation.
You can also focus on objects in the room, smells, or sensations. This process of consistently bringing your focus back to that sense whenever you lose it can have positive long-term effects on the brain. Specifically, it increases cortical thickness in prefrontal regions in the brain.<4>
Mindfulness or Perspective Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is meant to open the mind. Specifically, it's meant to help create an all-encompassing awareness of our surroundings without any clearcut concentration.
During mindfulness meditation, we are supposed to simply observe our own and other's thoughts from an outside perspective and without judgment. Ultimately, it's meant to help increase our understanding of other viewpoints and increase social awareness.<5>
Loving-Kindness, Metta or Affect Meditation
Being more kind can make us more satisfied with our lives, according to research.<6> Thus, this type of meditation is meant to increase empathy and compassion by focusing on sending and receiving love. It includes silent repetition and focusing on mantras of kindness in order to mentally send altruistic energy to others.
Movement meditation's purpose is to align the body with the soul. Yoga and Tai Chi, for example, are considered movement meditations. However, you can technically turn any array of conscious movements into a meditation. No matter what you do, the point is to stay present and resist distracting thoughts, emotions and stimuli while you move.
Tips for Meditation
While there are various different meditations styles, there are also general steps you can apply to all practices to reach a more focused, relaxed state.
1. Silence your phone.
Before you start meditating, silence your cell phone. There's nothing more distracting than getting a text message or phone call in the middle of trying to separate yourself from the outside world.
2. Set the mood.
Next, get your meditation space ready the way you like it. This could mean lighting candles and dimming the lights, clearing the clutter around you, or getting out into nature, depending on your practice.
3. Do a mild body warmup.
If you can't sit still or relax, a little warmup might help increase circulation for relaxation. Try moving your body in whatever way feels good. This could involve swaying the arms and hands back and forth or doing some yoga poses. Sometimes, all the body needs is a bit of movement to settle it down.
4. Make yourself comfortable.
Discomfort can be distracting during meditation. If you're getting ready to meditate, get comfortable. It doesn't matter whether you plan to meditate outside or inside, on the grass or on a mat. Consider bringing a cushion for the ground outside or sitting on a pillow on your mat.
Can Nootropics Help Us Meditate?
There are several different brain functions that impact meditative brain states. Some nootropics work by activating brain chemicals while others protect the brain from stress and anxiety. Here's how it happens.
Brain Functions Associated with Meditation
Specifically, some nootropic brain boosters can activate alpha wave, acetylcholine and/or NGF production. Others may moderate the level of stress hormone we experience in response to stimuli.
Activating Alpha Waves
Those who meditate regularly have shown to have more alpha waves throughout their brains than those who don't. Alpha waves are associated with higher concentration and less response to stimuli. Thus, nootropics that help produce alpha waves may also help us meditate.
Acetylcholine and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) Production
Acetylcholine is a brain chemical that "enhances attentional processing and spatial orientation" in the brain. <7> In other words, it and chemicals like it may improve our focus and help rewire our brains faster in reaction to meditation.
Nerve Groth Factor (NFG), then, helps implement this rewiring. As such, nootropics that support the production of acetylcholine and NGF may help with meditative brain changes.
In addition, cortisol is the stress hormone released in reaction to stressors. Some nootropics can help by stopping this stress hormone from releasing. Ultimately, this can reduce stress reactions to thoughts, emotions and stimuli to help us concentrate during meditation.
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for Meditation
If you've tried everything and still can't seem to separate from your thoughts, what do you do? Well, Mind Lab Pro®'s all natural nootropics may be exactly what you need to quiet your nagging thoughts and emotions. They may be able to isolate brain chemicals, functions and waves to create less stress and more concentration during meditation. We'll get into the specifics below.
Keep in mind that there isn't enough research to show direct proof of nootropic benefits for meditation. But below, we've created a list of Mind Lab Pro®'s natural nootropics whose functions mimic those necessary to maintain a relaxed yet focused meditative state.
L-Theanine has proven calming effects on the brain. It's an all natural nootropic that can be found in your favorite green tea. Actually, meditative monks have been using it for thousands of years to help induce focused relaxation for meditation. L-Theanine's effects have been described as "mindful alertness".
Technically, L-Theanine increases Alpha wave activity in the brain, similar to what meditation does. It also reduces heart rate in response to stress. <8> Thus, it may really help us slip into that deep state of thought-free awareness meditation is meant to bring about.
Citicoline is known to support the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine in the brain. For more introverted or introspective people, acetylcholine speeds up the brain's ability to process information and retrieve stored information by increasing Alpha waves.
For more extroverted or outgoing people, dopamine is what fuels their brain speeds. Thus, citicoline may have positive effects on both introverts and extroverts seeking a meditative state.
PS may help activate acetylcholine production and slow down the release of cortisol. Thus, it may help with meditation by enhancing mental processing and focus, reducing stress and widening our awareness. This may make it easier to slip into a deep, meditative state.
Lion's Mane Mushroom
Lion's Mane is a mushroom that activates the production of Nerve Growth Factor, which helps rewire the brain. Thus, it may help speed up brain changes in reaction to meditation (plasticity).
In addition, a lack of NGF has been associated with mood issues. Thus, Lion's Mane Mushroom may help balance the mood by increasing NGF in people who lack it.<9>
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime Pine Bark Extract is a nootropic that may relax blood vessels and increase blood flow to the brain for the tense meditator. It does so by supporting the delivery of oxygen and glucose to the brain. This oxygen and glucose then provides energy, activates brain chemical production and helps with cognition.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT)
NALT is a nootropic that may help mreduce the brain's negative reactions to stress hormones. This could be perfect for the stressed out meditator.
NALT may also enhance the brain's mental processing and activate brain chemicals like dopamine to improve concentration and cognition. This natural brain booster may work even better when stacked with Rhodiola Rosea.
Rhodiola Rosea is an herbal nootropic that may strengthen the brain's resistance to long and short-term stress. It can help by maintaining acetylcholine and other brain chemicals. Thus, it may be perfect for someone trying to let go of stressful thoughts and open their mind for meditation.
The best thing about Rhodiola Rosea is that it can provide the same positive effects of stimulants like caffeine without the negative side effects. Combined with citicoline, it may be the perfect stack to help us reduce stress and fatigue while slipping into concentrated relaxation.
Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for meditation help support focused relaxation while reducing reactions to stressful stimuli.
The first Universal Nootropic™, Mind Lab Pro® is made to counteract stress, brain fog and mental fatigue while enhancing focus and cognitive processing. As such, it may be the perfect supplement to help optimize the brain functions associated with a deep meditative state.
- Bueno VF et al. Mindfulness Meditation Improves Mood, Quality of Life, and Attention in Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 2015 Jun 7.
- Rosenkranz MA et al. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation.
- Meditation: In Depth. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Lazar SW et al. Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport. 2005 Nov 28; 16(17): 1893–1897.
- Valk SL et al. Structural plasticity of the social brain: Differential change after socio-affective and cognitive mental training. 2017 Oct 4.
- Fredrickson BL, et al. Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Nov;95(5):1045-1062.
- E. Mohandas. Neurobiology of Spirituality. Mens Sana Monogr. 2008 Jan-Dec; 6(1): 63–80.
- Kimura K et al. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):39-45.
- de Azevedo Cardoso T et al. Neurotrophic factors, clinical features and gender differences in depression. Neurochem Res. 2014 Aug;39(8):1571-8.