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Meditation Health Benefits: What The Practice Does To Your Body

Meditation Health Benefits: What The Practice Does To Your Body
We hear it all the time: Meditation can improve our creative thinking, our energy, stress levels and even our success. Prominent artists, businessmen and politicians cop to the practice. Would it work for you? "It did to my mind what going to the gym did to my body -- it made it both stronger and more flexible," said Dr. Studies show that meditation is associated with improvement in a variety of psychological areas, including stress, anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders and cognitive function, among others. For one thing, it changes our brain. "Think of the end of a neuron as a hand, with thousands of 'fingers,'" said Dr. Want to learn more? This story appears in Issue 47 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, May 3. Related on HuffPost: Related:  Neuroscience & the Benefits of MeditationNeuroscience & Consciousness

Meditation Found To Increase Brain Size « Great Human Capital People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don’t. Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input. In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. That’s intriguing because those sections of the human cortex, or thinking cap, normally get thinner as we age. Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being,” says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. The researchers compared brain scans of 20 experienced meditators with those of 15 nonmeditators. Controlling random thoughts Slowing aging?

The Enormous Promise of Psychedelics for Sustaining Health, Happiness and Sanity April 26, 2013 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. A researcher in a suit and tie strolls past with a graduate student in rainbow leggings and a red bandana. Lagging behind are Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and a gaggle of dinner attendees who hover around Doblin in hopes that they might share a few words with the man of the hour. It’s nearing midnight when the crowd finally dissipates and Doblin can be sequestered for an interview. “MAPS was founded based on adjusting to a major failure,” Doblin says. “I knew that there was going to be a crackdown because it was already being sold both as a therapeutic drug, and also some people were selling it as ecstasy,” he says. Doblin and fellow therapists formed a non-profit group called Earth Metabolic Design Laboratories (EMDL) to bolster awareness of the therapeutic use of MDMA.

The 'thinking cap' that could unlock your inner genius and boost creativity By Fiona Macrae Updated: 07:39 GMT, 30 September 2008 There is a theory that the spark of genius lurks hidden within all of us. Now scientists are developing a 'thinking cap' that could turn that theory into practice and unlock the amazing potential of the human brain. The device uses tiny magnetic pulses to change the way the brain works and has produced remarkable results in tests. Wearing the hairnet-like cap for a few minutes improved artistic ability and proof-reading skills. If the technique is perfected, the device could be marketed as a cap slipped on to boost creativity when inspiration is low. The Australian experiments are inspired by savants, people who, like Dustin Hoffman's character in the film Rain Man, have amazing skills or talents despite a severe mental disability. Some have mind-boggling calculating skills or 'internal calendar' that can almost instantly work out the day that any given date fell on. Around 10 per cent of people with autism are savants.

Morning Routine: How Waking Up Earlier Can Help Weight Loss Being slimmer could be as simple as waking up early for some morning sunshine, US researchers suggested on Wednesday. A small study of 54 volunteers showed that the leanest ones did not necessarily eat better or exercise more than the rest. They simply were exposed to more bright daylight earlier in the day. The findings by Northwestern University researchers are published in the journal PLOS ONE. "The earlier this light exposure occurred during the day, the lower individuals' body mass index," said co-lead author Kathryn Reid, research associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "The later the hour of moderately bright light exposure, the higher a person's BMI." Participants' average age was 30. Morning light was found to have an influence on body mass, regardless of a person's physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age or the season. "The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon," she added.

Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in eight weeks Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain's grey matter. "Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day," says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study's senior author. "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."

The Vagus Nerve and the Healing Promise of The Sudarshan Kriya Frank Huguenard, Staff WriterWaking Times At the center of our bodies resides a long, sinewy nerve that extends all the way from our medullas down through our chests to beyond our stomachs. This nerve, known as the Vagus Nerve, happens to be at a most fascinating intersection, not only between our two physical nervous systems (our central and autonomic nervous systems) but also between our conscious minds and subconscious minds. As such, it also acts as a bridge between our gross bodies and our subtle bodies. And it’s a nerve probably 99% of the population have never heard of nor even have a clue where it’s located. Research indicates that a healthy vagus nerve is vital in experiencing empathy and fostering social bonding, and it is crucial to our ability to observe, perceive, and make complex decisions. Automated Habit Formation Our consciousness’s natural tendency is to compartmentalize tedious tasks so that the brain can focus on higher priority activities. Dr. Effect on Depression

The Neuroscience of Imagination Albert Einstein said of the theory of relativity, "I thought of it while riding my bicycle." Anyone who exercises regularly knows that your thinking process changes when you are walking, jogging, biking, swimming, riding the elliptical trainer, etc. New ideas tend to bubble up and crystallize when you are inside the aerobic zone. You are able to connect the dots and problem solve with a cognitive flexibility that you don't have when you are sitting at your desk. Aerobic exercise clears the cobwebs from your mind and gives you access to insights that are out of reach when you are sedentary. What is happening to the electrical, chemical and architectural environment of our brains when we exercise that stimulates our imagination and makes us more creative? Many scientists believe that the creative process springs as much from the subconscious as it does from a conscious thought process. The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition .

Organize your mind to organize your life The brain was not designed to focus on more than one thing at a time. The connection between disorganized minds and unhealthy habits is compellingBefore you can focus your attention, you must tame negative emotionsExercise, deep breathing or meditation, and a good night's sleep all help mentally Editor's note: Margaret Moore (aka Coach Meg) is the co-author of "Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life." She is the director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital and the founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation. (CNN) -- If there's one big lesson I've learned over the past decade while training thousands of health and wellness coaches and coaching many clients, it's this: An organized mind enables full engagement in a health-giving style of life. The kind of organization I'm talking about is not decluttering your office or home, or purchasing the latest app to organize to-dos and projects. We know that disorganization is not just a problem of ADHD sufferers. Dr.

Meditation found to increase brain size Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office Sara Lazar (center) talks to research assistant Michael Treadway and technologist Shruthi Chakrapami about the results of experiments showing that meditation can increase brain size. People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don’t. Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input. In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. “Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being,” says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. Controlling random thoughts

Scientists Declare: Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Science leaders have reached a critical consensus: Humans are not the only conscious beings; other animals, specifically mammals and birds, are indeed conscious, too. It may have seemed obvious to you and me that Fluffy and Fido are aware of their own existence and are not simply biological machines. You may also take it for granted, when you stare into the eyes of a chimpanzee, that you're seeing a self-aware being. And that when the whale you helped to free from being tangled in fishing gear proceeded to swim around the boat giving you high fives, she was saying thank-you. But scientists (especially those who make money through experimenting on captive animals) have been very cautious in coming to this conclusion. Finally, however, the official decision was reached in late night discussions two weeks ago during the prestigious annual Francis Crick Memorial Conference . The group didn't attempt to define what consciousness actually is. Read the full declaration here . ShareThis

10 More Common Faults in Human Thought Humans This list is a follow up to Top 10 Common Faults in Human Thought. Thanks for everyone’s comments and feedback; you have inspired this second list! It is amazing that with all these biases, people are able to actually have a rational thought every now and then. There is no end to the mistakes we make when we process information, so here are 10 more common errors to be aware of. The confirmation bias is the tendency to look for or interpret information in a way that confirms beliefs. The Availability heuristic is gauging what is more likely based on vivid memories. Illusion of Control is the tendency for individuals to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes that they clearly have no influence on. Interesting Fact: when playing craps in a casino, people will throw the dice hard when they need a high number and soft when they need a low number. The Planning fallacy is the tendency to underestimate the time needed to complete tasks. Bonus Attribute Substitution

Men who are narcissistic may be at higher risk for more health problems - latimes.com Unhealthy narcissism was linked with higher cortisol levels in men in a… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…) Men who are narcissists may be at risk for some health problems, since they could have inherently higher levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol even when they're not under pressure, a study finds. Cortisol, which is released by the body when it's under duress or going through an intense activity, can have some benefits--lending an energy surge, helping the body burn fat, and boosting memory. But too much cortisol from chronic stress can have deleterious effects, such as higher blood pressure, lower immunity and higher levels of abdominal fat. Researchers tested the saliva of 106 undergraduate students (79 women, 27 men) twice in a lab setting to check their cortisol levels. The authors noted that more research is needed to determine why men who are narcissists have higher cortisol levels compared with women. The study was released Monday in the journal PLoS One.

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