Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Brain Gain

During these rather troubling times, it's important to find encouraging stories that show that you can do something to make things better, no matter how dreary the apparent reality might be.

Here is a an interesting story. It was sent to me via a friend of a reader.

Meditation can boost your gray matter
Buddhist Insight’ practitioners build thicker cortical regions
Nov. 13, 2005

Meditation alters brain patterns in ways that are likely permanent, scientists have known, but a new study by researchers from Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows meditation also is associated with increased cortical thickness.

Brain imaging of regular working folks who meditate regularly revealed increased thickness in cortical regions related to sensory, auditory and visual perception, as well as internal perception — the automatic monitoring of heart rate or breathing, for example.

The study also indicates that regular meditation may slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex.

"What is most fascinating to me is the suggestion that meditation practice can change anyone's gray matter," said study team member Jeremy Gray, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale. "The study participants were people with jobs and families. They just meditated on average 40 minutes each day, you don't have to be a monk."

The research team was led by Sara Lazar, assistant in psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital. It is detailed in the November issue of the journal NeuroReport.

The study involved a small number of people, just 20. All had extensive training in Buddhist Insight meditation. But the researchers say the results are significant.

Most of the brain regions identified to be changed through meditation were found in the right hemisphere, which is essential for sustaining attention.

Other forms of yoga and meditation likely have a similar impact on brain structure, the researchers speculate, but each tradition probably has a slightly different pattern of cortical thickening based on the specific mental exercises involved."

So, now that I have your attention, take a deep breath, do your meditation, and read what The Washington Times, is saying about dear leader.

This comes from Americanblog, and Hunter at Kos adds more.

"The Washington Times, you may know, is an "independent" newspaper that is basically the mouthpiece of the Republican party. For that reason, it sometimes gets inside scoops as to what the GOP is thinking, and even what's going on inside the White House.

For that reason, their latest story on Bush is extremely disturbing:

President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

Matt Drudge adds on his site:

The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes.

The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

So basically Bush is melting down. This is rather disturbing in view of the increased chatter about Bush, an alcoholic who never sought treatment, now reportedly drinking again."

Perhaps he is meditating.

We should probably be praying.

For what is a man profited,
if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul?

Matthew (ch. XVI, v. 26)


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps I don't understand exactly what constitutes meditation. Could sitting around quitely thinking your own thoughts be mediatation? Does it have to be like praying--thinking about god or something in particular? Or is meditation simply a contemplative state?
One Buddhist I know spends a lot of time chanting but that doesn't seem to fit the concept of meditation.

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this definition of meditation. It is from The Book of Life. J. Krishnamurti

If you have followed this inquiry into what is meditation , and have understood the whole process of thinking, you will find that the mind is completely still.

In that total stillness of the mind, there is no watcher, no observer, and therefore no experiencer at all: there is no entity who is gathering experience, which is the activity of a self-centered mind.

......So, to meditate is to purge the mind of its self-centered activity. And if you have come this far in meditation, you will find there is a silence, a total emptiness. The mind is uncontaminated by society; it is no longer subject to any influence, to the pleasure of any desire. It is completely alone,and being alone, untouched, it is innocent.

Therefore there is a possibility for that which is timeless, eternal to come into being.

This whole process is meditation.

6:38 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

The Krishnamurti defintion certainly describes meditation well. From a scientific perspective, meditation is when the brain emits mostly alpha waves.


9:43 AM  

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