Sunday, March 30, 2008

The science behind meditation

I've told you all about this research before but here's just a little reminder about how meditation actually affects the physical make up of the brain:
A University of Wisconsin-Madison research team placed 32 subjects, experienced or new to meditation, under a magnetic resonance imaging scanner and exposed them to sounds that evoke empathy. Sounds included a baby laughing, a woman crying, ambient noise in a restaurant.

The researchers discovered significant activity in the insula, the frontal portion of the brain that maps emotional response.

The study was part of an effort to uncover how meditation can change the climate of schools and prevent bullying and aggression in students. Neuroscientists have begun searching for clues that link meditation with improved cognitive function and immune response as well as with stress reduction. Mindfulness is also being investigated as a treatment option for disorders, such as ADHD and depression.

Harvard researcher Sara Lazar led a study that found mindfulness practitioners had thicker gray matter in the frontal portion of the brain responsible for attention and sensory processing. UMass Medical School researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn has documented meditation’s positive effects on patients with chronic pain and stress related disorders.
It's really important that we not give up, that we keep on meditating no matter what.


  1. You have excellent comments and insights on meditation. I would like to add that the first chapter of Martha Beck's The Joy Diet is another good piece of writing on how to meditate and why. The book is her attempt to explain ten practices one can engage in for more joy in life. She introduces them in the order of their importance and the first one is "doing nothing." She explains clearly and without strings what she means, why it is fundamental and its benefits.

  2. I have re-instated the blog you once commented on, Ellie. It is here:

    All the mediation-related entries are posted in a long single lone one now.


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