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Are we morally obligated to meditate?

Reduced amygdala activity

Meditation shows reduced activity in the amygdala, our brain’s threat detector. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it sets off the fight-flight-freeze response.

In a study, after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes per day over just one week, participants showed reduced amygdala reactivity only while they were engaged in mindfulness, suggesting they need regular practice.

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Are we morally obligated to meditate?

Are we morally obligated to meditate?

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/1/10/21013234/meditation-brain-neuroscience-moral-obligation

vox.com

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Key Ideas

Altering the brain

In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.

You can reap the benefits if you practice meditation for half an hour a day over eight weeks.

Mindfulness meditation

It typically refers to a practice for training your attention. It is an awareness that comes through paying attention in the moment, but non-judgmentally.

It involves sitting down with closed eyes and focussing on feeling your breath go in and out. When your attention starts to wander, you take note and bring your attention back to your breath.

Loving-kindness meditation

Loving-kindness and compassion meditation involves cultivating a love for people who are suffering. Loving-kindness meditation can change your neural circuitry even faster than mindfulness meditation.

Typically, in loving-kindness meditation, you repeat certain phrases in your head, such as "may I be safe," "may I be healthy". After you wish these things for yourself, you wish the same things for people you love, and then you circle out.

Behavior changes

Loving-kindness or compassion meditation affects the brain by boosting the connection between the brain's circuits for joy and happiness and the prefrontal cortex that guides behavior.

Trying meditation

Among Buddhists, you’re likely to hear about “skillful” and “unskillful” means for minimizing suffering and maximizing the possibility for liberation.

The idea is that in order to lead a good life, you need to engage in certain self-cultivation practices. 

Not for everyone

Meditation is not for everyone. For some people, meditation can provoke intense mental distress of impaired physical functioning.

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Mindfulness

... is a collection of practices aimed at helping us to cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment.

Meditation sharpens your attention

Meditation helps to counter our tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve attention.

Larger randomized controlled trials are still needed to understand how meditation might work with other treatments to help people manage attention-deficit disorders.

Consistent meditation

Long-term, consistent meditation mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more sustainable way.

  • Practicing meditation reduces the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors.
  • Mindfulness practices help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. 

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Mindfulness Meditation

Practitioners of mindful meditation focus their attention on only one thought. The goal is to be firmly affixed to the present moment. This typically means concentrating on the breath - observ...

Changes to the Brain

Buddhists have meditated for literally thousands of years. Buddhists are trying to hack their own minds, to harness them.

Only in recent times have neuroscientists discovered that meditation changes the brain physically.

Health Benefits
  • Meditation improves attention. Studies show that 20 minutes a day are sufficient to get beneficial results.
  • Meditation reduces stress after eight weeks of training.
  • Meditation has also been shown to increase levels of empathy.
Reducing Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stres...
Controlling Anxiety

Less stress leads to less anxiety.

Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Promoting Emotional Health

Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

  • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
  • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.

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