Countdown: Top 8 Brain Exercises – #4

In this 8-part article series, we are counting down the Top 8 Brain Exercises that you can easily engage in for boosting your brain health and overall well-being.


The information shared in this series is inspired from the book How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist by Andrew Newberg M.D. & Mark Robert Waldman.

This one is getting quite popular in the mainstream.

Can you guess what it is??

Here we go…….

Top Brain Exercise #4: Meditate

As you can see, this one is catching on. It made the November 2014 cover of Scientific American:

Meditation is a word that arouses a number of different images in people’s minds. From Tibetan monks sitting in solitude in a lotus position to a housewife laying still on a couch with an ipod and a pair of headphones.

Whatever image pops into your mind, know that in order for some practice to qualify as meditation, it must have this one essential quality at its core:

Meditation is the act of consciously steering your attention toward one single thing and keeping it there in an openly observant state without judgement.

Judgement is the act of attaching thoughts of meaning to what you are observing and causes the mind to become distracted and follow a trail of thoughts that lead it far away from the original point of focus. Meditation is about simply being present with one thing and not assigning any meaning to it. This process, done successfully, allows your mind to be still.


Meditation is also often referred to as a ‘contemplative’ state. (The word ‘contemplate‘ comes from the Latin contemplat- ‘surveyed, observed’ from the verb contemplari, based on templum ‘place for observation’.)

By staying in a contemplative (observant) state for 20 minutes to and hour, you affect your nervous system in such a way that you enhance your physical and emotional health with the release of neurochemicals that enhance pleasure and decrease depression like dopamine and serotonin.

Even 10-15 minutes of meditation has shown positive effects in cognition, relaxation, psychological health, reduced smoking & binge drinking behaviour, and even improved student’s test scores.

Some of the most successful business people in the world including Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett and Sir Richard Branson all meditate regularly. A little more research on your own might lead you to discover that, when it comes to the benefits of meditation, this is really just the tip of the iceberg.


Choose one thing to place your focus upon and simply be present with by observing it in a welcoming state of wonder and curiosity. Have no expectations for what happens next. Simply allow what is …to be.

You could light a candle and focus upon the flame. Simply observe it like a person with no memory – much like a new baby might observe it.

You could simply focus your attention upon your breath. Observe the sensation of the air going in and out of your body each time as though you were witnessing it for the first time.

You could also select a phrase that you find empowering or enlightening and chant it over and over while simply focusing your attention upon the sound of it and not the meaning.

It’s my humble opinion that the key to meditation’s effectiveness is finding a practice that allows you to enter into a simple state of pure awareness – no real thought, just a welcoming presence. Enter that 'Place for Observation'.

Please explore this in more depth for yourself and find a meditation practice that you’d enjoy doing every day.

It’ll likely add more years to your life and more life to your years.

Stay tuned… as the next article in this countdown series, reveals Top Brain Exercise #3 !


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Thank you for reading this right to the end!


© 2014 Trent Janisch –


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