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Understanding the Power of Meditation

sfn.org

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness induce a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. Various studies demonstrate the practice can help relieve stress — as well as manage anxiety, reduce inflammation, and improve memory and attention, to boot. Such striking results have many doctors, acr...

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Tibetan Monks

Tibetan monks meditate for hours upon hours each week. Their devotion to their religious traditions makes them experts in the practice of meditation.

Turns out those experts have a lot to teach us about how sustained mindfulness affects the brain.

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Bin He Investigates

Bin He, a neuroengineer at Carnegie Mellon University, decided to look at the brains of Tibetan monks. In a previous study. He and colleagues saw that individuals with meditation experience were better able to control a computer cursor with their mind than those without it.

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Bin he

“We went to Tibet and measured activity in the brains of monks who had, on average, 15 years of meditation experience — between five and 35 years,” he said. “We then compared those results to native Tibetans who had never meditated befo...

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Bin He Findings

He and his colleagues found that long-term, active meditative practice decreases activity in the default network. This is the brain network associated with the brain at rest — just letting your mind wander with no particular goal in mind — and includes brain areas like the medial prefront...

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Bin he

“It seems the longer you do meditation, the better your brain will be at self-regulation,” said He. “You don’t have to consume as much energy at rest and you can more easily get yourself into a more relaxed state.”

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Is there more to know?

There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done to understand the type and amount of practice required to get an effect — and it likely will be different for each person. And with so many ways to do so — from workshops to smart phone apps — Davidson says the best kind of meditation is simpl...

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Richard davidson

“Think of it as a form of personal mental hygiene — almost like tooth brushing,” he said. “Humans didn’t evolve brushing their teeth twice a day. It’s a learned skill. Your brain is just as precious as your teeth. So, it’s important to ...

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