Skip to comments.Meditation builds up the brain
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 OHara 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 OHara. 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 arent 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
* 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
enlightening breaking news...
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?
I like to meditate my brain with a couple single malts - or is that medicate oh I am sure it works the same way.
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.
How do you give brain?
hmmm looks like someone forgot to meditate before writing that headline.
A good question. I'm not sure but i presume simply sitting, relaxing and focusing on nothing.
So not the Christian style praying.
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?
I have no clue.
I prefer Simpson-style meditation...
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.
My wife has been meditating daily for many years. I haven't. Her brain works better than mine does.
So scientists have found a religion they are willing to endorse? Interesting.
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.
Meditation helps you live longer too. Monks are some of the longest living human beings.
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.
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.
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.
I thought New Age was paganism without the War gods and hunting gods traditonaly assocated with paganism.
?. Ok? Glad we agree?
Via intellectual intercourse.
Not from www.nature.com/news but from www.newscientist.com
Both are daily newsservices concerning science and research.
Oh, that's good. That's very good.
Our churches are in SERIOUS trouble.
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.
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.
I think I've actually seen it used in that sense before, but I wasn't thinking about it when I read the headline.
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.
I think that's a bunch of unscriptural bunk.
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.
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.
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.
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"!
Actually the new age crapola (MacLaine and all that) is invented and bogus and has nothing to do with real Hinduism.
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.
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.
Now he can as Islammm to the list.
You're a great story teller, lol! Good that you didn't go back. It's a very bad practice.
There is a certain sense of focus when Rita Rizzo leads the Rosary on EWTN.