Monday, May 10, 2010

The Brain and Meditation

Most people know that meditating, taking a break from a busy schedule and focusing on the now in a grateful mode, is good for them. A similar peace for me can be found in Nature or after a hard workout. But there is something special about meditation, when you can get into it, and you are in that altered state of being, much like when you awake or lie on the beach, and are half-asleep.

Scientists have been doing experiments on yoga and the brain. They have found that the brain continues to learn at a rapid rate into middle age, and may not reach its peak in young adulthood. If one practices focusing their attention on the breath or a mantra, the brain restructures itself. In the journal Neuro Image in 2009, Luger et al. published findings on how gray matter in the brain increases after meditation. The brain in these areas becomes more efficient or powerful. The brain can focus in other areas after mediation. Vispassana or reality now medication increases attention in the moment, and prevents times we are absent-minded and may have accidents, etc. This can save lives in areas such as surgery or driving!

Some studies showed a decrease in gray matter or activity in the amygdala, an area of the brain responsible for stress. A study by psychologist Barbara Frederickson et al. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that mediation increases compassion. We feel more connected as One.

She writes that the goal of mediation is not to get rid of or to obsess with unpleasant thoughts, but to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, and learn to move through or process them without getting stuck. it's about being real and expressing your emotions, while you also observe yourself, to me. Your thoughts and emotions can give you a clue as to who you are and what you want...but you want
to use them for that, and to be still underneath it all. Meditation, yoga and exercise are a part of that.

Information for this blog post was obtained from Kelly McGonigal's Your Brain on Meditation in Yoga Journal.

Disclaimer: None of the above information can be taken as a substitute for advice from a medical professional such as a physician.

My third book, Pocket Guide to Fitness, is available on,, and If you look up my name on those Web sites, you will find my other books The Boy in a Wheelchair and Life, Work and Play: Poems and Short Stories.

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