A Glimpse into the Meditating Brain

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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A Glimpse into the Meditating Brain

Post by Digger » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:47 pm

I came across an article on the internet called "A Glimpse into the Meditating Brain" by Bryan Williams, University of New Mexico:


I thought some here might be interested.

Conclusion from the article:

"Based on our review of the experimental findings, both past and present, what lessons might we be able to take away about the meditating brain? The first lesson may be a practical one for our health: Aside from calming our minds, the findings tentatively suggest that the practice of meditation may help slow the thinning of cortical tissue in our frontal regions that naturally occurs with age. If this is a genuine effect, then it seems to be associated with regular, long-term practice, so it may be useful to have a daily period of meditation as part of one’s health regimen. Thus, if you practice meditation on a regular basis, it may be beneficial in the long run to keep it up!

Another lesson we might be able to take away is one about deep meditative states. The limited research with advanced meditators suggests that these states, which tend to be subjectively different from the ordinary waking state of consciousness, may have a partial basis in activity at both ends of the brain wave frequency spectrum. Some deep states appear to be linked with slow frequencies associated with deep relaxation, low arousal, and the waking-sleep threshold, while others are associated with fast frequencies associated with complex cognitive thought processes. Due to the paucity of the research, there is little we can conclude at the moment, but with further work, what we learn about them can be potentially valuable for gaining a better understanding of the boundaries of consciousness that lie at the edge of the hard problem.

Lastly, we might be able to take away a lesson about cultural approaches to the human mind. For about 2,500 years, Buddhism has offered a spiritual means of personally exploring the inner self and contemplating the nature of the mind using techniques of deep introspection. At its heart, Western psychology shares this same focus of exploration and contemplation using empirical techniques. Even though they may take different perspectives, psychologists Roger Walsh and Shauna Shapiro (2006) have argued that there is much that the two disciplines can learn from each other. For example, the findings from psychology and neuroscience can aid Buddhists in more deeply exploring their first-person insights and mental states, while Buddhists can offer psychology and neuroscience a broader perspective on introspection and subjective experience, two things that are vital in linking the workings of the brain to mental behavior (Barinaga, 2003). The study of meditation is one way that this path of knowledge can be facilitated."
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Re: A Glimpse into the Meditating Brain

Post by Ben » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:52 am

Yes, and what we are witnessing at the moment is the convergence of Buddhist practice, neuroscience and psychology.
I think its particularly interesting and exciting. See also Cittasanto's thread on Samatha Meditation EEG Study and numerous threads on developments on neuroscience in this sub-forum and the health and wellbeing forum.
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“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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