Mindful Happiness – Brain on Meditation
Reports from various MRI and self-report measure studies support the proposition that your brain changes (neuronal plasticity) when you practice meditation on a regular (daily) basis. The same is likely true when you practice yoga on a regular basis. Here are some noted changes in brain functioning that produce differences in psychological and emotional adjustment – all for the better. This list will focus on the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the center for (among other things) executive functioning. Other research shows changes in other parts of the brain; these studies are not the focus of this post.
MEDITATE REGULARLY VS DO NOT MEDITATE
- More calm in stressful decision making Less so
- More peaceful generally Less so
- Show more compassionate action Less so
- Once in samadhi, PFC highly active Less so – cannot achieve samadhi
- Less afflictive emotions (suffering) More so – more afflictive emotions
- Signs of brain symmetry (whole brain) Less so
- More able to dis-identify with unpleasant emotions Less so
- More passively reflective in thinking Less so
- Better executive PFC strengthening (plasticity) Less so
- Less reactivity in the amygdala (limbic system) More so – impulsive, reactive
- Somewhat due to the above – generally happier Less so
So, what is in your way? Yes, we humans are creatures of habit. With these documented benefits, motivation should not be a problem. Short time periods in meditation (12-15 minutes) can be helpful if practiced on a daily basis. Do it!
For more information refer to Perlmutter, D. and Villoldo, A. (2011). Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, pp. 1-10.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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