Do you ever forget where you left your keys?
Or why you walked into a room?
Or maybe you can’t remember the name of that actor who starred in that movie you saw last week.
First off, you’re not alone. And let’s be real – the above scenarios can happen to anyone at any adult age.
Memory lapses like these are normal, and there’s no need to worry unless they become super frequent or start interfering with your daily life.
But – if you’re looking for a way to improve your memory and boost brain power, you may want to try meditation.
Meditation has been shown to offer a number of benefits for mental and physical health, including reducing stress, improving focus, and increasing self-awareness.
And recent research suggests that meditation may also help improve memory. But before we dive into the how, let’s take a look at what research has to say about the benefits of meditation for memory.
Does Meditation Improve Memory?
Studies have shown that meditation can help improve memory, both in healthy adults and those with memory decline. Here’s how:
#1 Changes Brain Size & Structure
Researchers have found that meditation can have a positive impact on both your brain’s structure and size. One study reveals that people who meditate have more gray matter in the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning — than those who don’t meditate.
More specifically, the increase in gray matter is proportional to the number of years a person has been meditating. In other words, the benefits of meditation for memory are cumulative and not instantaneous.
#2 Reduces Distracting Thoughts
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information, it’s no wonder that our memories sometimes suffer. Fortunately, there is a proven method to help improve memory recall and focus: mindfulness meditation.
Research has found that meditation improves short-term memory recall, as well as memory capacity by reducing distracting thoughts.
So next time you can’t remember where you put your keys, try taking a few minutes to meditate. It just might help sharpen your mind – and reveal the location of your keys.
#3 Gives More Room to Process Memories & Emotions
A recent study has found that meditation does more than just calm your thoughts and lower stress levels. It actually allows your brain to process more information than when you’re simply relaxing.
The study found that if you practice nondirective meditation — focusing on your breath or a sound, while allowing your mind to wander — you give yourself the space to process memories and emotions.
The results of this study indicate that your brain can actually function better after meditation, as it’s able to sift through memories and information more effectively.
#4 Slows Memory Decline
The impact meditation has on memory has also been studied in people with memory decline.
A small study found that meditation helps to improve memory in older adults with a preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease. The participants were assigned to either a beginner meditation or music listening program and asked to practice 12 minutes per day for 12 weeks.
The results? Both groups showed significant improvements in memory function and cognitive performance at three months.
And even three months after the intervention, the participants maintained or even improved their cognitive performance.
This study provides hope that meditation may be an effective intervention for slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and shows that meditation and music are powerful tools to improve memory.
Now that we’ve seen what the research has to say about meditation and memory, let’s take a look at how you can use meditation to improve your memory.
How to Use Meditation to Improve Memory
#1 Find the Right Technique
The first step in using meditation to improve memory is finding the right technique for you.
There are a lot of different meditation techniques available, so it may take some trial and error to find the one that resonates the most and provides the best results.
Some popular meditation techniques include mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, and visualizations. But these can be challenging for beginners, so it is best to start with a simple meditation technique like the body scan or a guided meditation.
Once you find a meditation technique that works for you, stick with it and practice regularly.
#2 Practice Regularly
Anyone who has ever tried to meditate daily knows that it can be difficult to keep up a consistent practice. Life always seems to get in the way, and it can be hard to find the time to sit down and clear your mind (yes, even if it’s a 5-10 minute practice).
But the single most important thing is to be consistent in your meditation practice. Like with any skill, the more you meditate, the better you will become at it and the bigger the benefits.
Even if you fall off the horse, it’s totally worth getting back on one day at a time.
If you’ve been struggling to make meditation a part of your daily routine, try:
- Setting a regular time for meditation
- Setting a reminder on your phone or calendar
- Making it a priority until it becomes a habit
#3 Start Small
If you’re just starting out, start with small sessions and gradually increase the length of time you meditate for each session. A good goal to aim for is 15 minutes per day, but studies show that even 13 minutes hit a mark when you’ll start noticing significant improvements.
But even if you can only spare a few minutes each day, that’s way better than not meditating at all.
Our favorite piece of advice: make it a doable micro-step – seriously, any meditation is better than none at all. And as you get better at meditation, not only will you find that it becomes easier to sit for longer periods of time, but you’ll also start to really notice the benefits.
#4 Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life
Living a mindful life doesn’t necessarily mean you need to set aside hours for meditation, practice Tai Chi, or buy a fancy yoga mat (although, those are all fantastic and they do help).
There are simpler and easier ways to include mindful activities into your daily life, which is especially important when starting out.
Making a commitment to be more present can start with something as basic as taking a few deep breaths before you check your email or the news in the morning. Breath-focused meditation can work wonders.
Or, as you’re going about your day, take a few moments to really pay attention to the sensations you’re experiencing – the taste of your coffee, the sound of raindrops falling on the ground, or the feel of your clothes against your skin.
New research suggests that mindfulness can also help to improve memory. The study found that participants who took a four-week mindfulness course showed improvements on a memory task, compared to those who took a creative writing course.
The mindfulness group also saw an increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus. And it’s all due to “proactive interference” — which is when your past memories get in the way of your ability to retrieve more recent information.
All in all, the more you cultivate mindfulness, the smoother it’ll be to bring meditation into your daily life. And it’s 100% worth it.
To help you ease into a mindful lifestyle, here are 10 mindfulness activities and exercises worth trying.
Increase Your Memory Power Through Meditation
Memory is a precious gift, and we should all do what we can to protect and enhance it.
And we’ve shown that meditation improves memory by:
- #1 Changing the brain’s structure
- #2 Giving more room to process memories and emotions
- #3 Reducing distracting thoughts
- #4 Slowing memory decline
You can use it to enhance your memory by following these simple tips:
- #1 Find the right technique — there are many different meditation techniques, so find one that resonates the most with you
- #2 Practice regularly — consistency is key when it comes to meditation, so make sure to set aside some time each day to practice
- #3 Start small — gradually increase the amount of time you meditate each day, until you’re up to 15 minutes or more
- #4 Incorporate mindfulness in your daily life — cultivate mindfulness in all aspects of your life, not just when you’re meditating to amplify its effects on your memory
It’s amazing what a little daily meditation can do for your memory and overall brain power – not to mention your overall well-being. We hope these tips have inspired you to give meditation a try and commit to a consistent effort.