Proof Meditation Changes Your Brain!

Posted on March 31, 2008. Filed under: wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , |

meditation lotus Published March 25 in the Public Library of Science One, the study was the first to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to indicate that positive emotions such as loving-kindness and compassion can be learned in the same way as playing a musical instrument or being proficient in a sport. The scans revealed that brain circuits used to detect emotions and feelings were dramatically changed in subjects who had extensive experience practicing compassion meditation.

The scans revealed significant activity in the insula — a region near the frontal portion of the brain that plays a key role in bodily representations of emotion — when the long-term meditators were generating compassion and were exposed to emotional vocalizations. The strength of insula activation was also associated with the intensity of the meditation as assessed by the participants.

“The insula is extremely important in detecting emotions in general and specifically in mapping bodily responses to emotion — such as heart rate and blood pressure — and making that information available to other parts of the brain,” says Davidson, also co-director of the HealthEmotions Research Institute.

Activity also increased in the temporal parietal juncture, particularly the right hemisphere. Studies have implicated this area as important in processing empathy, especially in perceiving the mental and emotional state of others.

“Both of these areas have been linked to emotion sharing and empathy,” Davidson says. “The combination of these two effects, which was much more noticeable in the expert meditators as opposed to the novices, was very powerful.”

The findings support Davidson and Lutz’s working assumption that through training, people can develop skills that promote happiness and compassion.

“People are not just stuck at their respective set points,” he says. “We can take advantage of our brain’s plasticity and train it to enhance these qualities.”

The capacity to cultivate compassion, which involves regulating thoughts and emotions, may also be useful for preventing depression in people who are susceptible to it, Lutz adds.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

As a certified meditation teacher I have long held the belief that daily meditation, even just 15 mins a day, can change your health, there is proof that it can help with heart disease and here is a new study proving that we can change our brain too. Relieving depression with just 15 minutes a day sure beats taking antidepressants.

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