Although not a mega meditator, with time I noticed some effects of meditation and got curious in what exactly happens in the brain when I sit on the cushion and watch my mind jumping around, patiently learning to bring attention to the intention and stay with life itself instead of the virtual reality my mind entertains me with. How do these changes in the brain influence how I relate to everything and everyone around, including myself?
I am now more aware of what is going on inside my body and my head which means that a lot of junk that earlier went unnoticed gets caught in the net of awareness. When catching a little thought that gets lots of attention and suddenly swells up to the size of a huge mountain, in this more awakened state of mind I can trace how it leads to a lower state and starts stinking. I find this little self-observation more valuable than all the years I spent in college as it opens the door to liberation from the years of being a slave to the small, hungry and jealous mind. There is little joy in noticing how easily the mental trash can start nesting inside the head but on the other side this is my chance to clean up the house and ensure I do not start unloading it on others.
Here come a few podcasts that answer some of the “hows” about the ways meditation rewires our brain and subsequently influences who we are.
Meditation and creativity
David Lynch has been diving into TM (Transcendental Meditation) for over 30 years and intends to bring meditation to those who are willing to give it it a try. The video includes a live demonstration of meditator’s brain waves.
Meditation and the brain
Doctor Campbell (a k a Docartemis) interviewes Daniel Siegel on meditation and the brain on The Brain Science Podcast. Interestingly, Dr. Siegel wrote a book on mindful parenting not knowing anything about the mindfulness meditation (Vipassana). On the base of scientific evidence and the first-person experience he gives an overview of how the mindfulness meditation changes the brain both in short-term and in long-term leading to structural changes, when the states we develop during meditaion become traits.
According to Dr. Siegel the following prefrontal functions can be developed through meditation and become automated traits:
- regulating your body (improved blood pressure and immune system and its functioning);
- attuning to yourself and others in a deeper kind of way (compassion)
- the ability to better regulate your affect of states
- develop the ability to extinguish fear
- “response flexibility” or the capacity to pause before you act
- more insight into yourself
- more empathy for others
- more morality
- access to intuition
More brain and meditaion
Rick Hanson, PhD and Rick Mendius, MD, bring insights and tools from the fields of psychology, neuroscience and Buddhism, in their talk on Neurology of Awakening that can be streamed or donwloaded from Audiodharma’s site and the slides can be obtained from the Wisebrain site.
Have YOU noticed any of those or other tangible effects of meditation?