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Meditation Changes Your Brain

A Neuroscientist Explains How Meditation Changes Your Brain

Do you struggle, like me, with monkey-mind? Is your brain also a little unsettled, restless, capricious, whimsical, fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, or uncontrollable? That’s the definition of “monkey mind” I’ve been given!

If you need more motivation to take up this transformative practice, neuroscience research has shown that meditation and mindfulness training can cause neuroplastic changes to the gray matter of your brain.

A group of Harvard neuroscientists interested in mindfulness meditation have reported that brain structures change after only eight weeks of meditation practice.

Sara Lazar, Ph.D., the study’s senior author, said in a press release,

“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.”

To test their idea the neuroscientists enrolled 16 people in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course. The course promised to improve participants’ mindfulness and well-being, and reduce their levels of stress.

Everyone received audio recordings containing 45-minute guided mindfulness exercises (body scan, yoga, and sitting meditation) that they were instructed to practice daily at home. And to facilitate the integration of mindfulness into daily life, they were also taught to practice mindfulness informally in everyday activities such as eating, walking, washing the dishes, taking a shower, and so on. On average, the meditation group participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day practicing some form of mindfulness.

Magnetic resonance images (MRI scans) of everyone’s brains were taken before and after they completed the meditation training, and a control group of people who didn’t do any mindfulness training also had their brains scanned.After completing the mindfulness course, all participants reported significant improvement in measures of mindfulness, such as “acting with awareness” and “non-judging.”

What was startling was that the MRI scans showed that mindfulness groups increased gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum. Brain regions involved in learning and memory, emotion regulation, sense of self, and perspective taking!

Britta Hölzel, the lead author on the paper says,

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”

Sarah Lazar also noted,

“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.”

*Source: Themindunleashed.org Credits: This article was originally featured on MindBodyGreen

A Neuroscientist Explains How Meditation Changes Your Brain.

Meditation Changes Your Brain

Co-Creation

“How wonderful, O Lord, are the works of your hands!
The heavens declare Your glory, the arch of the sky displays your handiwork.
In Your love You have given us the power to behold the beauty of Your world robed in all its splendor.
The sun and the stars, the valleys and the hills, the rivers and the lakes all disclose Your presence.
The roaring breakers of the sea tell of Your awesome might, the beast of the field and the birds of the air bespeak Your wondrous will.
In Your goodness You have made us able to hear the music of the world.
The voices of the loved ones reveal to us that You are in our midst.
A divine voice sings through all creation.”
~(A Jewish prayer based upon Psalm 104)

Co-Creation

I will not fear

Thomas Merton, a Roman Catholic Trappist monk would have been 100 years old today. When I was a teenager, I read his The Seven Storey Mountain. The book strongly influenced my life, career path and my faith decisions.

This prayer is from that book. It’s offers a very unique glimpse into the inner prayer life of one of the most spiritually contemplative mystics of the 20th century.

Over the years, I’ve used the prayer often and offered it to many along their paths…survivors grieving the loss of a love; addicts struggling with recovery or sobriety; prisoners seeking forgiveness; depressed and fearful souls searching for hope…

You might pray it often:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
~Thomas Merton

I will not fear

One Day

“One Day”

Sometimes I lay
Under the moon
And thank God I’m breathing
Then I pray
Don’t take me soon
‘Cause I am here for a reason

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around because…

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

It’s not about
Win or lose
Because we all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent
Blood-drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging

In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy but don’t let it faze you no way (no way)

Sometimes in my tears I drown (I drown)
But I never let it get me down (get me down)
So when negativity surrounds (surrounds)
I know some day it’ll all turn around because…

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

One day this all will change
Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate

One day we’ll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun
Singing songs of freedom like
One day

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

One Day