Meditation changes the physical structure of the brain and repairs decades of
damage from negative thinking. People - including those who practice
alternative medicine, refuse to accept this over and over again and continue to
seek supplements including antipsychotics and herbal potions instead.
Thirty years of daily meditation has saved my life.
Meditation changes the way your brain processes
Saturday, November 17, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A new study has found that those who participate in an
eight-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how their
brains function, even when they are not actively meditating.
Scientists and experts at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston
University (BU), and several other research centers, writing in the November
issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, said they also found
differences in effects based on the specific type of meditation participants
"The two different types of meditation training our study participants
completed yielded some differences in the response of the amygdala -- a part of
the brain known for decades to be important for emotion -- to images with
emotional content," said Gaelle Desbordes, PhD, a research fellow at the
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and at the BU Center
for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, corresponding author of
the report. "This is the first time that meditation training has been shown
to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state."
Current study supports previous hypotheses
A number of previous studies have been supportive of a hypothesis in the
scientific community that meditation training improves a practitioners'
Neuroimaging studies have found that meditation training tends to decrease
activation of the amygdala, the structure at the base of the brain known to have
a role in processing memory and emotion. However, such changes were only seen
among study participants who were actively meditating.
The current study, though, aimed to test the hypothesis that meditation training
could also produce a generalized reduction in amygdala response to emotional
stimuli, which can be measured by functional MRI - magnetic resonance imaging.
Participants previously enrolled in a larger study into the effects of two forms
of meditation, based at Emory University in Atlanta.
"Healthy adults with no experience meditating participated in eight-week
courses in either mindful attention meditation - the most commonly studied form
that focuses on developing attention and awareness of breathing, thoughts and
emotions - and compass meditation, a less-studied form that includes methods
designed to develop loving kindness and compassion for oneself and for
others," Science Daily reported.
A control group, meanwhile, took part in an eight-week course about health
Within three weeks of beginning the training and three weeks after completing
it, 12 participants from each of the three groups traveled to Boston for fMCI
imaging at a state-of-the-art facility. Brain scans were performed as the
volunteers were shown a series of 216 different images, or 108 per session, of
people in situations that depicted positive, negative or neutral emotional
The concept of meditation was not mentioned to participants during pre-imaging
instructions. Afterward, researchers confirmed that participants had not
meditated while they were in the scanner.
Participants also completed assessments of any symptoms of anxiety and
depression before and after the training program.
Healthy minds from healthy meditation
The brain scans of those in the mindful attention group after training showed a
decline in activation of the right amygdala in response to all images, which
supports the hypothesis that meditation can improve emotional stability and
response to stress.
In the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity also fell off in
response to positive or neutral images.
However, among those who reported practicing compassion meditation most often
outside of the training sessions, right amygdala activity showed an increase in
response to negative images, all of which depicted some form of human suffering.
Researchers reported no significant changes in the control group or in the left
amygdala of any of the study's participants.
"We think these two forms of meditation cultivate different aspects of
mind," Desbordes said. "Since compassion meditation is designed to
enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala
response to seeing people suffer."
Continuing, Desbordes added" "Increased amygdala activation was also
correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group,
which suggests that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial
for oneself. Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching
hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain
function, especially in the area of emotional processing."
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson found that meditation has a
profound and permanent impact on the brain, improving its capacities
for awareness and happiness.
on Dec 4, 2008
While the positive physiological effects of meditation (such as reduced
blood pressure, lower pulse rate and decreased metabolic rate) are already
widely accepted by the scientific community, there has been relatively
little research about the mental effects of meditation. This seems to
change, however, as modern brain research seems to have the necessary
scientific tools to show in an objective, scientific manner what
meditators have always felt subjectively: That meditation is a tool for
happiness and higher awareness.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have worked with Tibetan
monks to translate the mental experience of meditation into the scientific
language of brain waves, using EEG testing and brain scanning. The monks
were asked to meditate on unconditional compassion, a Buddhist meditative
practice which doesn’t require concentration on particular objects or
images but rather cultivates a state of compassion in the mind. There was
also a control group without any previous experience in meditation.
According to Richard Davidson, neuroscientist at the university’s
Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, the results
demonstrate that the brain is capable of being trained and physically
modified in hitherto unimagined ways.
The study also found that:
experienced meditators show high-frequency gamma waves associated
with higher mental activity, perception and consciousness.
The mental practice of meditation has an effect on the brain the
same way as learning physical activities such as golf or tennis do.
That is: The mere mental activity of meditation leaves an imprint on
the brain and these changes can be made visible through scientific
The human brain remains moldable throughout life: new connections
among brain nerve cells can constantly be grown.
Mental training can change the way our brains work.
These changes are likely to be permanent. The monks in the study
showed higher than normal gamma wave activity even before they were
The monks in that study showed much more and unusually powerful
gamma-waves than the control group consisting of volunteers without
previous meditation experience.
The higher the meditation experience, the higher were the levels of
gamma waves. Some experienced monks showed the most powerful gamma
waves ever to be documented in a human being. In the control group
without previous meditation experience, the increases in gamma waves
were only slight.
A more recent study by Sara Lazar found that meditation even increases
the size of the brain.
Happy through Meditation
Interestingly, the findings of this study were consistent with
Davidson’s earlier work in which he showed the left prefrontal cortex to
be associated with happiness and positive thought. In the present study,
brain activity during meditation was highest in just this area of the
brain. This seems to scientifically prove what meditators from different
spiritual traditions have known and experienced for centuries: That
meditation is a simple, yet powerful tool for achieving happiness.