Terminology[ edit ] The Chinese language has several keywords for Daoist meditation practices, some of which are difficult to translate accurately into English.
For many of us, accessing that settled, contented state is difficult to do in meditation. Meditation requires patience and—even more challenging for most Westerners—time.
So, why would you put yourself through the struggle? Quite simply, meditation can profoundly alter your experience of life. The current findings are exciting enough to encourage even the most resistant of us to sit down on the cushion: They suggest that meditation—even in small doses—can profoundly influence your experience of the world by remodeling the physical structure of your brain.
Until recently, this idea would have seemed absurd. In a study published in the journal NeuroImage inLuders and her colleagues compared the brains of 22 meditators and 22 age-matched nonmeditators and found that the meditators who practiced a wide range of traditions and had between five and 46 years of meditation experience had more gray matter in re-gions of the brain that are important for attention, emotion regulation, and mental flexibility.
Increased gray matter typically makes an area of the brain more efficient or powerful at processing information. Why are there differences between the brains of meditators and nonmeditators? Neuroscientists now know that the brain you have today is, in part, a reflection of the demands you have placed on it.
People learning to juggle, for example, develop more connections in areas of the brain that anticipate moving objects.
Medical students undergoing periods of intense learning show similar changes in the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for memory. And mathematicians have more gray matter in regions important for arithmetic and spatial reasoning.
Like anything else that requires practice, meditation is a training program for the brain. More and more neuroscientists, like Luders, have started to think that learning to meditate is no different from learning mental skills such as music or math.
This is where it gets interesting: It depends on what kind of meditation they do. Over the past decade, researchers have found that if you practice focusing attention on your breath, the brain will restructure itself to make concentration easier.
If you practice calm acceptance during meditation, you will develop a brain that is more resilient to stress.
And if you meditate while cultivating feelings of love and compassion, your brain will develop in such a way that you spontaneously feel more connected to others. Improve Your Attention New research shows that meditation can help you improve your ability to concentrate in two ways.
First, it can make you better at focusing on something specific while ignoring distractions. Second, it can make you more capable of noticing what is happening around you, giving you a fuller perspective on the present moment. Some of the most fascinating research on how meditation affects attention is being conducted by Antoine Lutz, PhD, an associate scientist at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, in collaboration with Richard Davidson and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin.
Their work has shown that concentration meditation, in which the meditator focuses complete attention on one thing, such as counting the breath or gazing at an object, activates regions of the brain that are critical for controlling attention.
This is true even among novice meditators who receive only brief training.
Experienced meditators show even stronger activation in these regions. This you would expect, if meditation trains the brain to pay attention. But extremely experienced meditators who have more than 44, hours of meditation practice show less activation in these regions, even though their performance on attention tasks is better.
This suggests that people can immediately enhance concentration by learning a simple meditation technique, and that practice creates even more progress. The researchers also looked at whether meditation training can improve overall attention.
A more dramatic example would be a car accident caused by your thinking about a conversation you just had and not noticing that the car in front of you has stopped. If you were able to reduce your attentional blink, it would mean a more accurate and complete perception of reality—you would notice more and miss less.
To test whether meditation reduces attentional blink, participants had to notice two things occurring in rapid succession, less than a second apart.
What explained this improvement? EEG recordings—which track patterns of electrical activity in the brain, showing precise moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain activation—showed that the participants allocated fewer brain resources to the task of noticing each target.Brain Pickings remains free (and ad-free) and takes me hundreds of hours a month to research and write, and thousands of dollars to sustain..
If you find any joy and value in what I do, please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good lunch. Consult your doctor first, whichever type of sleep apnea you have, before moving on to meditation or other exercises for yourself.
Simple Meditation for Sleep Apnea. Meditation and the Brain Essay Words | 7 Pages Meditation and the Brain When discussing the relationship of brain and behavior, the materialist view of human experience runs into conflict with the historically dominant religious accounts.
Relationship between the mind and the brain. Print Reference this. Published: 23rd March, Disclaimer: This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
You can view samples of our professional work here. Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique, such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state..
Meditation has been practiced since antiquity in numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Since the 19th century, it has spread from its origins to other cultures where it is commonly practiced in. Amy Gross has been practicing mindfulness meditation since l, sitting many retreats at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, including two 3-month retreats, and at Spirit Rock Meditation .