Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain. Buddhist and meditation teacher Tara Brach leads a Vipassana meditation group at the River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda.
(Andrea Bruce Woodall/The Washington Post) Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was one of the first scientists to take the anecdotal claims about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and test them in brain scans. What she found surprised her — that meditating can literally change your brain. She explains: The Torus, Spiral of Life Meditation. 7 Signs You're Evolving on the Mindful Path to Awakening. According to Buddhism, mindfulness is a path to awakening.
But just what is it that we’re awaking to, or awakening from? While there are many ways to define and describe the term “awakening,” one might say that what we’re awakening from is the mental suffering that goes along with greed, delusion and hatred. Awakening can also be described as an awakening into love, compassion, peace and wisdom. Awakening as a Practice The path of awakening is a practice, and as such we find ourselves beginning again and again and again – in each and every moment. We must also remember that often times, the greatest learning experiences come when we find ourselves falling off the path, so to speak. TWEETSuffering is part of the natural ebb and flow of this mindful path to awakening and these times of suffering often provoke the most profound investigation. If we approach these times with a true sense of openness and curiosity, we’re provided with rare opportunities to evolve along the path of awakening.
Harvard Study Shows Meditation Actually Builds Brain Cells. A team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital demonstrated that meditation builds brain cells and increases gray matter in the brain.
The researchers used magnetic imaging (MRI), and found that meditation produced physiological changes in the brain’s gray matter. They noticed thickening in some areas of the participants’ brains after only eight weeks of meditation. This research was published in 2011 and it was the first documented proof that meditation can cause physical changes to the brain. This research was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the NIH.
The participants in the research spent eight weeks doing a mindfulness meditation program. The group had weekly meetings. Ness Meditation: How to Do It. Mindfulness meditation practice couldn’t be simpler: take a good seat, pay attention to the breath, and when your attention wanders, return.
By following these simple steps, you can get to know yourself up close and personal. Click here to enlarge the instructions. Find a good spot in your home or apartment, ideally where there isn’t too much clutter and you can find some quiet. Leave the lights on or sit in natural light. You can even sit outside if you like, but choose a place with little distraction. At the outset, it helps to set an amount of time you’re going to “practice” for.
Take good posture (see instructions above with actor Sandra Oh above) in a chair or on some kind of cushion on the floor. When your posture is established, feel your breath—or some say “follow” it—as it goes out and as it goes in. Compassion meditation reduces 'mind-wandering,' research shows. The practice of compassion meditation may be a powerful antidote to a drifting mind, new Stanford research shows.
Compassion meditation focuses on benevolent thoughts toward oneself and others, as the researchers noted. It is different in this aspect than most forms of meditation in the sense that participants are "guided" toward compassionate thoughts. The research article, "A Wandering Mind is a Less Caring Mind," was recently published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. "This is the first report that demonstrates that formal compassion training decreases the tendency for the mind to wander, while increasing caring behavior not only towards others but towards oneself," said James Doty, a co-author on the study, Stanford neurosurgeon and the founder and director of Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.
"Mind-wandering" is the experience of having your thoughts not remain on a single topic for long. Enhancing mindfulness Mind drift not always problematic.
Meditation for Beginners (video) Learn to meditate in 6 minutes with this video from ABC News anchor Dan Harris and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg.
A lot of us might think of trying meditation, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Thankfully, the folks at Happify teamed up with Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg, to take us through the basics. Mindfulness meditation consists of three simple steps: take a good seat, pay attention to the breath, and when your attention wanders, return. But the wandering part can be difficult to handle.
"The whole game is to notice when you've gotten lost [in thought] and to start over," says Harris. [Photo Credit: Dollar Photo Club]
Jon Kabat-Zinn - Body Scan Meditation - GUIDED MEDITATION. 799299d6-a987-4ed7-80e5-c177dc73a128.