Meditation and the brain pdf free,positive and negative thinking videos,pranayama yoga nyc - PDF 2016

07.06.2014
Researcher and neuroscientist at Harvard, Sara Lazar, have found that your brain structure changes noticeably after less than 8 weeks of meditation. Meditation has been found to increase the brain size a€“ larger volumes of grey matter specifically – in the right orbito-frontal cortex, left temporal gyrus and significantly larger volumes in the right hippocampus.
These areas are especially important in tasks associated with attention, emotional regulation and mental flexibility.
The hippocampus is essential in forming long-term memories, by consolidating short-term memories. Test subjects taking part in an 8-week program of mindfulness meditation showed results that astonished even the most experienced neuroscientists at Harvard University. Sue McGreevey of MGH writes: “Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. Receive Our Free Report on The 5 Emotional Triggers, as we take you into a deeper understanding Meditation, Breathing, Chakras, and Healing.. The goal of this work, according to author Britta Holzel, of Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School, is to “unveil the conceptual and mechanistic complexity of mindfulness, providing the ‘big picture’ by arranging many findings like the pieces of a mosaic.” By using a framework approach to understand the mechanisms of mindfulness, Holzel and her co-authors point out that what we think of as mindfulness is not actually a single skill. The authors specifically identify four key components of mindfulness that may account for its effects: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self. On the most fundamental level, this framework underscores the point that mindfulness is not a vague cure-all.
Practicing some technique that allows quieting the mind and stilling the body has been a fundamental part of most spiritual traditions. It was until very recent times that science began to look into the veracity of such claims and attempted to understand both the physiological as well as the psychological effects that such practices have on those who practice those techniques. In an effort to compile the most important findings from such research, and increase our acceptance and understanding of the positive effects that meditation has on our body and minds, Dr Shanida Nataraja published a book called, The Blissful Brain. Dr Shanida Nataraja has a BSc (First Class Hons.) in Human Science and Neuroscience and a PhD in Neurophysiology, both from University College London. SuperConsciousness recently spoke with Dr Shanida Nataraja, about the most recent scientific findings on the connection of meditation and the brain as well as the implications that such understanding could have on healthcare, education and our spiritual development.
SuperConsciousness: How did you become interested in doing research on the relationship between meditation and the brain?
Dr Shanida Nataraja: I grew up in a household in which meditation was very much part of everyday life. SC: There is a large variety of meditation techniques and names given to these techniques, and for someone who is not familiar and just beginning to explore meditation this can be a bit confusing. SN: Meditation, irrespective of the form it takes, has a number of defining characteristics. SC: What are the most relevant findings that science has discovered in regards to the effects of meditation on the brain? SN: There are a number of key findings, and the first is that we have two sides of our brain and each of those sides contains a different way of thinking and perceiving.
The other thing the research shows is that there are a number of changes in the brain during meditation that can perhaps shed light on the subjective experiences that people have when they meditate. During mediation, you first have to still the mind and switch off all the thoughts, and in that silence, having access to the right brain way of thinking and perceiving, as well as the left brain way of thinking and perceiving, insights can spontaneously occur. SC: Different instruments are being used to study the brain when people are meditating, and you have mentioned that some of these instruments could be used as tools for a person to get feedback as to how they are meditating.
Knowing what the brain wave pattern is that’s best for creativity or for relaxation has allowed people to come up with technologies that basically entrain the brain to specific brain wave patterns, thereby promoting creativity or encouraging relaxation. SC: Has there been any data or research done with instruments that measure the effects mediation has on the environment around the people meditating?
SC: When it comes to the effects of meditation in our body and particularly in health, what are some of the most relevant findings that have come out from this research?
There has been an enormous body of research that’s looked into the health benefits of meditation. SC: You are an advocate for the use of meditation in different areas of our modern-day life.
SN: I think that meditation has a number of potential applications, if you want to discuss it in that way.
I also think that meditation plays a huge role in terms of optimizing our performance and that is especially relevant in the case of the work place. SN: I think the key problem in many cases is being able to provide a compelling argument to the funding bodies within the health system that dictate how the money is spent and what treatments, including supportive treatments, can be made available for patients.
The key is to be able to demonstrate to those bodies that even though the effect on disease may not be as dramatic as giving an anti-hypertensive medication, for example, that actually in the long run what you’re doing is empowering patients, giving them a tool that they can use to manage their health and support the other treatment that they receive.
If we are saying that this is a tool by which we can optimize the performance of our brains, that we can access the left-hand side of the brain or the right-hand side of the brain and the two different ways of thinking and perceiving that those two sides of the brain offer us, then why aren’t we teaching this technique to our kids in school? SC: From your personal experience as someone who has been practicing meditation for some time, what are the benefits that you experience?
In terms of my own health, I’ve seen that meditation has taken me from being someone who was borderline hypertensive, to someone who has perfect blood pressure. SC: Are there benefits in practicing meditation as part of a broader spiritual perspective or does it really matter? SN: So far what we have talked about in terms of the benefits of meditation and the effects on the brain and the body of the practitioner is one level of understanding the effects of meditation. Spirituality provides a richer context for the experiences that we begin to have as a result of the practice of meditation. What the plasticity of the brain really does is it gives us the hope that all behavior can essentially be changed, can be replaced by more positive and constructive behavior. With that analogy, what I was really trying to do is just give people an idea of the scale involved here. The sheer number of brain cells that we have, and how those brain cells connect with each other to form a biological network that can adopt an infinite number of possible configurations, is mind-boggling.
How advanced will our education systems be if meditation was part of the normal curriculum in schools?


The area of the brain that controls emotions, empathy and compassion actually grows in the brain when you practice yoga and meditate. Scientific evidence strongly supports meditation, with that in mind will you begin practicing yoga and meditation? For decades research into the brain basis of language was limited to the study of the effects of neurological disease and brain lesions on human language processing and production. Associated with motor planning and speech production, Broca's area is believed to be responsible for lexical and phonological processing.
The vocalization region of the motor cortex controls the mouth and lips, involved in the physical production I of speech. Receives signals from the auditory nerves in the inner ear and transmits temporal and spatial frames of reference for the data it receives. One of the first way's of non-invasively observing brain activity, EEG uses electrodes attached to the scalp to record the electrical activity of neurons in the brain.
Using magnetic coils placed over a subject's head and hyper, sensitive magnetometers called SQUIDs, MEG measures faint magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain. One of the most popular scanning techniques in neuro-science research, PET allows scientists to observe blood flow and metabolism in the brain.
Related to this is Chomsky's theory of Universal Grammar, which suggests that there are grammatical properties common to all human languages.
I the younger a person is exposed 10 a foreign language, the greater the chances are that the person will achieve proficiency in that L2. Increased cognitive skills Fatly experience with two languages, gives children mental flexibility.
Higher standardized test scores A+ Students who studied a foreign language in high school scored higher on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.”  Until now, that is. And research suggests that mindfulness meditation can have benefits for health and performance, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure, and enhanced cognitive function. Together, these components help us attend to and deal with the mental and physiological effects of stress in ways that are non-judgmental.
Improvement in attention regulation, for example, may directly facilitate our awareness of our physiological state. Effective mindfulness meditation requires training and practice and it has distinct measurable effects on our subjective experiences, our behavior, and our brain function. Both my parents meditated and I was therefore exposed to a number of different meditative traditions as I was growing up. I was very musical at a young age, and playing the piano and singing were my way of de-stressing and centering myself. How can we know that what we are learning and practicing falls within what can be called meditative practice?
If we look at all the different types of meditation, we can see that they usually involve a technique or practice that is very clearly defined and is taught to the practitioner. Importantly, it is a self-induced relaxation, in contrast to hypnosis, and it is often taught within the framework of a spiritual tradition. Is there any research that has identified an area of the brain that’s activated when people have precognitive images or thoughts of future events come to them? Cornell Professor Daryl Bem recently did a study that revealed that the human brain does seem to have some kind of innate precognitive powers, but pinpointing where in the brain these powers arise is near to impossible. I imagine that what you’re describing, in terms of precognition and having a sense that something might occur or making a choice that in hindsight ends up being a good one, does come back to having access to a different way of thinking and perceiving that is offered by our right-hand side of the brain.
And you’ll see that there are countless different systems and CDs out there that are focused on either specifically increasing one of the different types of brain waves, or in fact, reproducing a certain type of optimal brain wave pattern in people that has been associated with high performance. I know there have been a lot of psychology experiments in terms of the effects that positive thinking or prayer can have, even at a distance, or the effect of the laying of hands on patients.
And to me, that is really a key step forward for us, in that, here you have an illness that is an area of huge unmet need, and meditation has been shown to really help those people and give rise to a lot of benefit in terms of their emotional state. Jon Kabat-Zinn has done research in a wide range of different patients, including those with chronic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis and anxiety.
We are now seeing a large number of companies, such as Google, that are now providing meditation to their employees. Meditation addressing the psychological impact of disease on patients and their need for psychological and emotional support.
The benefits of meditation extend far and beyond the time you may actually sit in a room meditating. The effects of meditation on the spiritual well-being of the practitioner, as well as the effects on their life and their way of interacting with the world, is another layer.
As meditation offers you access to a different way of thinking and perceiving, a spiritual framework to the practice of meditation gives the practitioner some way of reconciling the experiences that they have during their meditation into their everyday lives. I would like to read it to you and see what are your thoughts and why you chose to put this in your book? Subjective experiences of meditators with this optimal brain wave pattern reveal that they experience bliss in this state. The research I did for both my PhD and my first post-doctoral research job was very much focused on the plasticity of the brain. A Science has found Neurobiological evidence to support what meditation experts have been claiming for years; That people are healthier and happier when they meditate. A However, if you meditate by age 50 you will have the same amount of gray matter as a 25 year old.
A The region of the brain connected to our feelings becomes bigger and there are more connections there. These changes in blood flow, which arc captured on a computer, help researchers understand more about the role of specific structures in the brain.
But for a long time, these reports have mostly come from those who actually practice such techniques and the religious or philosophical texts that promoted them.


At school, I became entranced by science and this interest led to me doing a PhD in neuroscience to deepen my understanding of how the brain gives rise to the human behavior that we can see.
I think it was one of those things whereby, when you are a child, you don’t necessarily want to do what your parents do. And in many cases, it is a mental technique that involves a reduction in logical processing in the brain, as well as relaxation of the body as a whole. So we’re very rational, analytical and strategic, and our society in many ways encourages those characteristics. You have the Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) meter, which basically measures the resistance of your skin, which seems to be an indirect measure of your level of alertness. This technology can have a lot of applications in terms of meditation because a lot of people try different types of meditation and can’t quite find the right type for them, or perhaps they are unsure about whether using a mantra or the breath as an effective way of reaching this state of relaxed alertness. There’s been a lot of work out there that suggests that different patterns of brainwave activity can be correlated with different states of awareness or states of consciousness.
Here in the UK, mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) it is now accepted by some of the regulatory bodies that dictate the types of treatment available to patients. In all of these patients, he has really shown that meditation can have a huge impact, in terms of not only alleviating symptoms and enhancing quality of life, but also just improving the individual’s ability to cope with the disease or its treatment. Our modern healthcare systems are struggling under the burden of the number of patients that are presenting with diseases, particularly chronic diseases. They believe that doing so is increasing productivity, reducing stress in the work place, reducing absentees from work, and boosting people’s creativity. A level of patient care that unfortunately due to time and resourcing pressure often gets overlooked. I am a strong believer that you can practice meditation, especially the kind of non-denominational MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) that Jon Kabat-Zinn put forward, and you can derive benefits from doing so. A That is why meditators are more able to connect with the world around them, love everyone and are more able to find happiness.
Understanding the relationships between these components, and the brain mechanisms that underlie them, will allow clinicians to better tailor mindfulness interventions for their patients, says Holzel. It seemed almost a natural step for me to turn my attention to meditation, to explore whether meditation has any effect on the brain, and, if so, what did that mean for us as human beings.
So it was really only in my twenties that I would say I started practicing mediation regularly.
For me meditation is anything that is a mental technique that promotes stilling the mind and stilling the body. Meditation gives us a tool by which we can switch our brain activity from the left to the right brain, because sustained attention is a right-brained function, and in doing so, we gain access to a different way of thinking and perceiving.
This provides a concrete basis for an experience that meditators have been reporting over the years. When you are alert and prepared to take action, our whole body kicks into gear and parts of our nervous system kick in to make us ready for response.
And so what the GSR does is it gives the meditator insight into what’s happening in their body and mind and the impact that different techniques can actually have on their internal state. So really there has to be some way of offering patients more holistic and supportive therapies, without that being associated with a dramatic increase in healthcare cost.
In the work place, I can see its benefits in that I don’t become as stressed about deadlines or client problems in the way that I used to.
However, there are also more deep-rooted effects of meditation that are linked to the use of meditation as part of a spiritual life. It is therefore not an area that we would expect rational and analytical science to shed any light on. This is not to say that right-brained activity is better than the left-brained activity, but it complements it. Other subjective experiences have also been shown to have their basis in changes in the activity of specific areas of the brain. What the GSR is able to do is measure that response and give us a sense of how alert we are.
Especially for beginners in meditation, using the GSR can give the practitioner some insight into what techniques seems to be work better than others.
I just don’t think we have the instruments that can detect the subtle energy changes brought by meditation. In that respect, I see meditation as being a very cheap way of essentially giving patients a tool that they can use that really empowers them to take responsibility for their own health. Being able to put things into perspective, and being able to let go of that continuous striving and achieving, I would say is the way I have benefitted the greatest.
In the same way that connections between brain cells can be formed or strengthened, they can also be removed or weakened.
If you start to look at where true insight stems from, it is from activity on both sides of the brain. Meditation can be part of a new healthcare system where the patient takes as much of the responsibility as the doctor, not only tackling disease but also maintaining health. Whether enlightenment is, as some suggest, the manifestation of an optimal, high-performance brain wave pattern remains to be proven. This is a really important insight because when we look at most of us in adulthood, we have managed to accumulate what we refer to as emotional baggage during our lifetimes.
But we do know that meditation is a tool that can change brain activity to bring it closer to this optimal, high-performance brain wave pattern.
This emotional baggage is essentially a collection of conditioned responses that are the result of our experiences.



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