Health and Fitness

Does Meditation Increase Brain Power?

Research shows that meditation can increase your IQ. Scientist, Siegfried Othmer carried out research on participants using a type of meditation called brainwave training. The participants showed an average IQ increase of 23 percent. What is more, a follow-up study that was done twelve months later showed the effect was lasting. 

Two Types of Intelligence

There are two types of intelligence and these are fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is the ability to reason, learn new things, think abstractly, and to be able to demonstrate problem-solving skills. With this type of intelligence, it’s not about how much you know; it’s about having the ability to be innovative, aware, creative, and visionary.

Crystallized intelligence, on the other hand, is about how much you know.  It’s having the ability to make use of skills, information, and experience. This type of intelligence usually increases with age because it is characterized by knowledge acquired from experience. 

It’s both of these types that make up what is referred to as general intelligence as both fluid and crystallized intelligence are intertwined. An example is when fluid intelligence is used to think about a  problem where you need to apply reason and logic. The solutions that you think of then get stored in your long-term memory which becomes part of crystallized intelligence. 

Intelligence Over Time

Crystallized and fluid intelligence changes throughout your lifespan, with certain cognitive abilities peaking at different points.

Research suggests that fluid intelligence peaks at around the age of forty, whereas, crystallized intelligence peaks at age sixty or seventy.

Improving Intelligence

There are things that you can do to improve your intelligence. For instance, to increase your crystallized intelligence you could read more books and factual information, listen to podcasts, and learn a new language. By learning and frequently testing what you have learned, this information should get stored in your long-term memory. Over time this will increase your knowledge. 

As for fluid intelligence, it wasn’t until recently that scientists realized you could do much about this. It was once believed that it was pretty much set in stone, although now new research suggests that you can improve this type of intelligence with brain training.

Brain training typically involves someone focusing on a working memory task. This type of memory involves holding small amounts of information in the mind temporarily while completing a cognitive task. Researchers found that when people took part in brain training activities, their reasoning and problem-solving skills also improved. This is good to know because it means you have the capacity to improve your general intelligence.

How does Meditation Increase IQ?

Meditation slows down your brain activity, giving it the opportunity to reorganize itself as well as increasing its plasticity. By simply, focusing on your breath, favorite mantra, or relaxing music, you give your brain the chance to have a rest. What is more, you don’t have to be a meditation expert to reap the benefits.

A study which was published in Consciousness and Cognition showed that you can start to reap the benefits after just four days of meditation. In this study, participants meditated for twenty minutes a day, and after four days they showed significant improvements in their cognitive and memory abilities. Some of the participants did ten times better on a working memory task which shows impressive improvements in fluid intelligence. And this is the same type of intelligence that was once believed to fixed.

Meditation also helps to relieve stress and improve mood, so it’s a great activity for your mind. 

In addition, research shows that meditating for a minimum of fifteen minutes in one session is best to get the most out of it. There are some people who meditate for hours, however, that amount of time isn’t required to get the aforementioned benefits. It’s more about frequency than quantity.

What is Brainwave Training?

This is the type of specialized neurofeedback meditation that was used in Siegfried Othmer’s study where participants’ IQ increased by an average of 23 percent. What’s interesting is that this neurofeedback mediation wasn’t devised to enhance intelligence; it was designed to alleviate stress and problematic symptoms. Especially in disorders such as PTSD, ADHD, Autism, epilepsy, and other conditions.

Brainwave training involves the subject sitting on a chair while electrodes are placed on various points of their head. They are then required to watch a video game or movie for around half an hour. As they do this they experience visual, auditory, and sometimes tactile feedback, which helps to heal the brain and make it work optimally. 

This type of treatment isn’t only sought by those with impactful symptoms; it is also sought by sports professionals too. The Italian soccer team did neurofeedback before they won the 2006 World Cup. 

Granted this is not the type of meditation that you can readily do at home because without the electrodes the movie or video game can’t be adapted to suit your brain function. However, you can practice other types of meditation such as mindfulness meditation, focused meditation, and mantra meditation. 

Mindfulness Meditation

This type of meditation is all about being present in the moment.

  • Start by sitting comfortably on a chair or the floor. Aim to keep your head, neck, and back straight but comfortable.
  • Set a timer. This will help to stop you from thinking about the time while trying to relax and focus on this meditation technique.
  • Now shift your focus to your breathing. Be aware of your belly rising and falling each time you inhale and exhale.
  • Notice your thoughts. You do not have to try to prevent thoughts from coming into your mind. Just merely observe that they are there while redirecting your attention to your breathing.
  • If you find it difficult to just observe your thoughts, that’s okay. Meditation does take practice. What is important is that you aren’t critical of yourself because you are trying. 

Focused Meditation

As the name suggests, this type of meditation is about focusing on your chosen target.

  • Start by focusing on something like your breathing. 
  • Sit in a comfortable position while allowing your body to relax. If you are sitting on the ground you may need to use a cushion to prop yourself upright. If you are sitting on a chair, be sure to sit on the edge of it with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Now focus on your breath or whatever focal point you have chosen. Now use all of your senses to experience your focal point. Draw your attention to your breathing and focus on your senses. What can you hear, see, feel, and smell?
  • If your mind starts to wander, don’t worry this happens. Just gently bring your attention back to your focal point whilst observing your senses.

It may take more than a few attempts to get the most out of this practice. Just like any new activity, practice makes progress. So don’t be put off if you find it difficult at first.

Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation can be particularly useful for those who experience intrusive thoughts. 

  • Start off by finding an area where you can sit down comfortably.
  • Now choose a mantra that you want to say out loud or silently in your mind. Just as long as it is simple to say over and over again. It could be the word ’peace’ for instance.
  • Now close your eyes and repeat your mantra. Try to focus on the sound of your own voice. If you get distracted just gently guide your attention back to your mantra.
  • Aim to do this for five to ten minutes to start with and then build up to twenty to thirty minutes.

Meditation can really change your life for the better so aim to make it part of your daily routine. You never know, it might just be the life-enhancing tool you’ve been searching for.


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