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Meditation builds up the brain
Nature News ^ | 15 nov | Alison Motluk

Posted on 11/15/2005 2:20:30 PM PST by S0122017

Meditation builds up the brain

* 11:01 15 November 2005 * NewScientist.com news service * Alison Motluk

Meditating does more than just feel good and calm you down, it makes you perform better – and alters the structure of your brain, researchers have found.

People who meditate say the practice restores their energy, and some claim they need less sleep as a result. Many studies have reported that the brain works differently during meditation – brainwave patterns change and neuronal firing patterns synchronise. But whether meditation actually brings any of the restorative benefits of sleep has remained largely unexplored.

So Bruce O’Hara and colleagues at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, US, decided to investigate. They used a well-established “psychomotor vigilance task”, which has long been used to quantify the effects of sleepiness on mental acuity. The test involves staring at an LCD screen and pressing a button as soon as an image pops up. Typically, people take 200 to 300 milliseconds to respond, but sleep-deprived people take much longer, and sometimes miss the stimulus altogether.

Ten volunteers were tested before and after 40 minutes of either sleep, meditation, reading or light conversation, with all subjects trying all conditions. The 40-minute nap was known to improve performance (after an hour or so to recover from grogginess). But what astonished the researchers was that meditation was the only intervention that immediately led to superior performance, despite none of the volunteers being experienced at meditation.

“Every single subject showed improvement,” says O’Hara. The improvement was even more dramatic after a night without sleep. But, he admits: “Why it improves performance, we do not know.” The team is now studying experienced meditators, who spend several hours each day in practice. Brain builder

What effect meditating has on the structure of the brain has also been a matter of some debate. Now Sara Lazar at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, US, and colleagues have used MRI to compare 15 meditators, with experience ranging from 1 to 30 years, and 15 non-meditators.

They found that meditating actually increases the thickness of the cortex in areas involved in attention and sensory processing, such as the prefrontal cortex and the right anterior insula.

“You are exercising it while you meditate, and it gets bigger,” she says. The finding is in line with studies showing that accomplished musicians, athletes and linguists all have thickening in relevant areas of the cortex. It is further evidence, says Lazar, that yogis “aren’t just sitting there doing nothing".

The growth of the cortex is not due to the growth of new neurons, she points out, but results from wider blood vessels, more supporting structures such as glia and astrocytes, and increased branching and connections.

The new studies were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, in Washington DC, US. Related Articles

* If meditation is good, God makes it better * http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18725154.300 * 02 September 2005 * Does inner peace lead to longer life? * http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18624984.600 * 07 May 2005 * The colour of happiness * http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg17823965.200 * 24 May 2003

Weblinks

* Society for Neuroscience annual meeting * http://apu.sfn.org/am2005/index.cfm?pagename=home * Bruce O'Hara, University of Kentucky * http://ukcc.uky.edu/cgi-bin/phq?def=ukt&field=deptcode&value=102&field=name&value=O'Hara,+Bruce * Massachusetts General Hospital * http://www.researchmatters.harvard.edu/program.php?program_id=127


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy; Technical
KEYWORDS: attention; biology; brain; darksided; enhancement; meditation; newage; science; selfimprovement; ungodly
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1 posted on 11/15/2005 2:20:32 PM PST by S0122017
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To: S0122017

enlightening breaking news...


2 posted on 11/15/2005 2:21:32 PM PST by CharlieOK1 (Ideally pacifism would be great, but only if you've got an army of non-pacifists to protect you)
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To: S0122017
You didn't meditate before posting this in breaking news!
3 posted on 11/15/2005 2:22:06 PM PST by tiredoflaundry ("Yoot" - French for Muslim Rioters)
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To: tiredoflaundry

Hm, well i almost never posted before.

What is breaking news used for then? The article just appeared. Isnt that what 'breaking news' is? When a discovery is just made or announced?


4 posted on 11/15/2005 2:23:14 PM PST by S0122017
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To: S0122017

I like to meditate my brain with a couple single malts - or is that medicate oh I am sure it works the same way.


5 posted on 11/15/2005 2:24:08 PM PST by kentj
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To: tiredoflaundry

Does this meditation refer to the new age type of meditating? Christians usually don't consider time with God meditating as a Buddhist or Hinduist would.


6 posted on 11/15/2005 2:25:38 PM PST by Blue Highway
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To: S0122017

How do you give brain?


7 posted on 11/15/2005 2:26:18 PM PST by RichInOC (...somebody was going to ask...why not me?)
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To: S0122017

hmmm looks like someone forgot to meditate before writing that headline.


8 posted on 11/15/2005 2:27:02 PM PST by rattrap
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To: Blue Highway

A good question. I'm not sure but i presume simply sitting, relaxing and focusing on nothing.

So not the Christian style praying.


9 posted on 11/15/2005 2:27:52 PM PST by S0122017
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To: S0122017
Well unless it is something of National Importance...
10 posted on 11/15/2005 2:28:20 PM PST by tiredoflaundry ("Yoot" - French for Muslim Rioters)
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To: S0122017

The article doesn't really define what it means by meditating. Buddhist exercises? Christian meditation? They are entirely different. It would seem as if they should have described the meditative exercises.

Do you do a Christian meditation on the Passion, or do you imagine one hand clapping?


11 posted on 11/15/2005 2:29:04 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Blue Highway

I have no clue.


12 posted on 11/15/2005 2:29:28 PM PST by tiredoflaundry ("Yoot" - French for Muslim Rioters)
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To: S0122017

Hummmmmmmmmmmmmm.........


13 posted on 11/15/2005 2:30:39 PM PST by tbird5
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To: tiredoflaundry
Well unless it is something of National Importance.

Well sorry i thought breaking news was simply also for all news that was just in. Any way at least i got a lot of attention :) Not very positive but attention all the same.
14 posted on 11/15/2005 2:32:08 PM PST by S0122017
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To: tbird5

I prefer Simpson-style meditation...

Dooohhhhhhhhh


15 posted on 11/15/2005 2:32:09 PM PST by Bookwoman
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To: S0122017
Ignore the naysayers. You did well.

The Bible supports Meditation in Joshua 1:8 before Israel overtook the giants at Canaan: This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

16 posted on 11/15/2005 2:32:40 PM PST by IronManBike
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To: S0122017

My wife has been meditating daily for many years. I haven't. Her brain works better than mine does.


17 posted on 11/15/2005 2:33:32 PM PST by Savage Beast ("Oprah: The light that shines so gently on those who need it most." ~Sidney Poitier)
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To: S0122017

So scientists have found a religion they are willing to endorse? Interesting.


18 posted on 11/15/2005 2:33:57 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: S0122017
Where is the Einstein 'Brain' Cereal pic?
19 posted on 11/15/2005 2:35:04 PM PST by TRY ONE (NUKE the unborn gay whales!)
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To: Blue Highway

It's the New Age type. You will be shocked to learn just how many so-called evangelicals are into this these days. Seriously. If you have a teen, be very very attentive to what's being taught in Sunday School and at camp. You might have a mini-guru living in your midst.


20 posted on 11/15/2005 2:36:45 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: S0122017

Meditation helps you live longer too. Monks are some of the longest living human beings.


21 posted on 11/15/2005 2:37:13 PM PST by bnelson44 (Proud parent of a tanker!)
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To: S0122017
Explain this


22 posted on 11/15/2005 2:38:40 PM PST by irons_player
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To: IronManBike

Meditating on the law of God is not the same thing as emtying your mind of all thoughts so you can enter into "the cloud of unknowing" aka an altered state of consciousness. That, my friend, is just what Shirley MacLaine, Tom Cruise, and others do. Welcome to the New Age. It's really the old age of Hinduism.


23 posted on 11/15/2005 2:39:15 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: Blue Highway
Does this meditation refer to the new age type of meditating? Christians usually don't consider time with God meditating as a Buddhist or Hinduist would.

Probly! Christian prayer, meditation is so passe, so medieval, doncha know? Why study it?

I went to a Buddhist priory a few years back at an introductory meditation session conducted by some Jewish guy with serious sniffles and a dripping wet Kleenex, who decided some years earlier that he was gonna be a Buddhist monk. OK, fair enough. After the spoken introduction, he led the three of us novices to a darkened room for a half hour evening meditation. You kneeled in front of a wall on a pillow or cushion of some sort (this took place inside a former two story residence) and was supposed to think of nothing for thirty minutes. (I kept thinking of where I had seen the woman next to me before.) People, including this woman, arrived for this from outside as this was a twice daily ritual, like a Catholic mass, say. I left there somewhat disturbed by the emptiness and meaninglessness of the exercise.

Here's a somewhat relevant quote I just found on the net:

In 1997 Ratzinger called Buddhism an "autoerotic spirituality" that offers "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations." Hindusim, he said, offers "false hope," in that it guarantees "purification" based on a "morally cruel" concept of reincarnation resembling "a continuous circle of hell." At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church's main enemy.

24 posted on 11/15/2005 2:42:32 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("in the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: Cicero
The article doesn't really define what it means by meditating. Buddhist exercises? Christian meditation? They are entirely different. It would seem as if they should have described the meditative exercises. Do you do a Christian meditation on the Passion, or do you imagine one hand clapping?

There isn't any difference any longer. Go to www.innerexplorations.com and see what I mean. The mystics of the past are back, still not acknowledging that the practice is occultic. Ah...but they are "bridging the gap" between the east and west you see. They are coming together with eastern "brothers" who practice Buddhism and Hinduism. Doesn't that make you feel so warm and fuzzy? Hey, even scientists who generally hate religion like this stuff.

25 posted on 11/15/2005 2:43:23 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past

I thought New Age was paganism without the War gods and hunting gods traditonaly assocated with paganism.


26 posted on 11/15/2005 2:44:20 PM PST by John Will
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past
"Meditating on the law of God is not the same thing as emtying your mind of all thoughts so you can enter into "the cloud of unknowing" aka an altered state of consciousness. That, my friend, is just what Shirley MacLaine, Tom Cruise, and others do. Welcome to the New Age. It's really the old age of Hinduism."

?. Ok? Glad we agree?

27 posted on 11/15/2005 2:44:57 PM PST by IronManBike
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To: RichInOC
"How do you give brain?"

Via intellectual intercourse.

28 posted on 11/15/2005 2:45:19 PM PST by Uncle Miltie ("Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error. " - Mohammed)
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To: Revolting cat!

Interesting, Rc.


29 posted on 11/15/2005 2:45:41 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: S0122017

Small mistake:

Not from www.nature.com/news but from www.newscientist.com
Both are daily newsservices concerning science and research.


30 posted on 11/15/2005 2:49:14 PM PST by S0122017
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past
"Lift up your heart to God with a humble impulse of love and have himself as your aim, not any of his goods ... Set yourself to rest in this darkness, always crying out after him whom you love. For if you are to experience him or to see him at all, insofar as it is possible here, it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness." -- The Cloud of Unknowing

Note, this was by a Medeival British Christian Mystic.
31 posted on 11/15/2005 2:49:25 PM PST by DarkSavant (I touch myself at thoughts of flames)
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To: Brad Cloven

Oh, that's good. That's very good.

:-D )))


32 posted on 11/15/2005 2:50:07 PM PST by RichInOC (...the mind with the dirty man.)
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To: IronManBike
Oh, I'm sorry. Clearly you live by the old (true) definitions. Times they are a-changin'. Just be very very curious about everything your church teaches regarding prayer and meditation these days. The New Age version is running rampant in our churches. I am not kidding. I learned this the hard way. My son's youth group was all about studying movies as Scripture. I am not kidding about that either. It drove me crazy. So he went to camp one year where it was all about prayer and meditation. I was thinking, at least they aren't watching trashy movies all week. WELL....later I learn that they were doing this Buddhist meditation nonsense. I WAS SO MAD!!!!!

Our churches are in SERIOUS trouble.

33 posted on 11/15/2005 2:50:40 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past; IronManBike

I would venture that Christ, while on his 40 day fast in the desert, before he began his mission, might have meditated on a few different things, both with mind full and empty.


34 posted on 11/15/2005 2:53:46 PM PST by Rennes Templar ("The future ain't what it used to be".........Yogi Berra)
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To: RichInOC; S0122017
you guys must not be too in touch with current urban slang. "give brain" refers to an oral sex act. i was kinda taken aback when i saw the title of this article.

recently here in NYC, there was a rather large to-do when an advertising campaign on the side of city buses said, "read books, get brain."

it was attempting to increase literacy. the kids got it, the people who approved the campaign didn't. once the adults caught on, the ads were pulled rather quickly.

35 posted on 11/15/2005 2:59:26 PM PST by thefactor
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To: thefactor

I think I've actually seen it used in that sense before, but I wasn't thinking about it when I read the headline.


36 posted on 11/15/2005 3:02:28 PM PST by RichInOC (...the mind with the dirty man.)
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To: RichInOC

your tagline would seem to imply otherwise. i deal with urban kids daily so i hear that kind of sexual crap a lot. savage little punks if you ask me. but no one did.


37 posted on 11/15/2005 3:05:46 PM PST by thefactor
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To: S0122017
Reminds me of that Cheech and Chong routine:
"Say 'ohhhmmmm'"
"Ohhhmmmm"
"Ohhhmmmmmm ..."
"Oohhhhshhhi..."
38 posted on 11/15/2005 3:11:46 PM PST by manwiththehands
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To: DarkSavant
"Lift up your heart to God with a humble impulse of love and have himself as your aim, not any of his goods ... Set yourself to rest in this darkness, always crying out after him whom you love. For if you are to experience him or to see him at all, insofar as it is possible here, it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness." -- The Cloud of Unknowing Note, this was by a Medeival British Christian Mystic.

I think that's a bunch of unscriptural bunk.

39 posted on 11/15/2005 3:14:27 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past

It's discouraging. I've done quite a lot of research on Christian meditation and contemplation, and neither of them has anything whatever to do with Zen.


40 posted on 11/15/2005 3:14:48 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past

Oh yes, I almost forgot.

The meditation (at the Buddhist priory), was stopped after a long half hour by loud bells and then the allergic monk, played a harmonium or some other strange instrument (I didn't see it, since like everyone else I was staring at the dark wall), and the people, all of them white, in this multi-ethnic community, chanted some gibberish, which, I thought, none understood, if there was anything to understand. So that was my first and last experience with meditating on nothing. I was dragged to go there and never had a reason to go back or practice whatever I learned that evening.


41 posted on 11/15/2005 3:16:41 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("in the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: Blue Highway

Deep prayer is meditation. Real meditation (not just invented new age stuff) is not different than prayer.

It's called food for the soul. The daily bread that is just as important, if not more so, as bread for the body.


42 posted on 11/15/2005 3:17:44 PM PST by little jeremiah
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To: Cicero
Christian contemplation is zen, at least by today's definitions. And yes, it is very discouraging (understatement). I'm still in shock.
43 posted on 11/15/2005 3:18:52 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: S0122017

Real meditation is not blanking the mind (which can never be done, anyway). Traditional meditation involves meditating on God. That's what the ancient Vedas teach. There is no possiblity of ever successfully meditating on "nothing".

And just picking any old thing to concentrate on? Everyone does that all the time anyway. Can be called "obsessing"!

:-)


44 posted on 11/15/2005 3:19:51 PM PST by little jeremiah
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past

Actually the new age crapola (MacLaine and all that) is invented and bogus and has nothing to do with real Hinduism.


45 posted on 11/15/2005 3:21:35 PM PST by little jeremiah
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past

Christian contemplation is defined by writers like St. Augustine, St. Bonaventura, St. Teresa, and St. John of the Cross.

Things evidently started to go wrong around the time of Thomas Merton. I enjoyed his first books, including "Seeds of Contemplation," but he went off the rails. As you may know, he was killed by an electric shock in his hotel room while attending a Buddhist convention in Asia in the interests of ecumenism.

In fact I know one scholar who wrote an excellent book on the mystical poetry of Henry Vaughan, then got involved with LSD, and wrote a second book comparing Christian contemplation with acid trips. No, they are not the same.


46 posted on 11/15/2005 3:25:54 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: John Will
I thought New Age was paganism without the War gods and hunting gods traditonaly assocated with paganism.

Go to ShirleyMacLaine.com and you can see what it is. View her pages on mediation and you will get the basics of what so-called evangelical churches are into. Many Catholics do it too. Also Jewish Kabbalists. It's the cross-over spirituality you see. It's the "all paths lead to God" concept. You search for the divine within. Go to www.explorefaith.com and see how the Episcopals practice and define it. They are finding "god" within, just like Shirley MacLaine.

47 posted on 11/15/2005 3:25:57 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: Revolting cat!
At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church's main enemy.

Now he can as Islammm to the list.

48 posted on 11/15/2005 3:27:11 PM PST by i.l.e. (Tagline - this space for sale....)
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To: Revolting cat!

You're a great story teller, lol! Good that you didn't go back. It's a very bad practice.


49 posted on 11/15/2005 3:28:00 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The nastiness of evolutionists proves one theological point: human depravity..)
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To: little jeremiah

There is a certain sense of focus when Rita Rizzo leads the Rosary on EWTN.


50 posted on 11/15/2005 3:29:46 PM PST by i.l.e. (Tagline - this space for sale....)
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