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Sara Lazar – How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains TED talk

In How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains, neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s amazing brain scans show us what happens with the brain when we meditate and how it benefits us.

Sara Lazar is the head of the Meditation Research lab, and according to their website, they are using neuroimaging techniques to study neurological, cognitive, and emotional changes associated with the practice of meditation and yoga.

Also, they incorporate measures of peripheral physiology (breathing, heartbeat) in order to understand how meditation practice influences brain-body interaction.

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So, to answer the question, is meditation really good for you?

There are many studies and researches done on meditation, so here is a list of scientific meditation benefits:

  • reduces stress, anxiety, and depression;
  • improves your ability to be creative and think outside the box;
  • increases positive emotions and life satisfaction;
  • improved brain function and memory;
  • intuition develops;
  • increases the quality of sleep;
  • normalizes blood pressure and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke;
  • improves the immune system;
  • increases cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention;
  • personal transformation.

Sara Lazar’s meditation technique used in her studies is mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness is a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing on your mind in the present.

To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself.

In her study, meditation group participants reported spending an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and their responses to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with pre-participation responses.

According to Sara Lazar:

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.”

Sara Lazar later added:

“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.”

Watch on more documentaries, like – Yogis of Tibet, Inner Worlds, Outer WorldsYou Can Heal Your Life, The Shift, and or Living Luminaries: On The Serious Business of Happiness.

Arthur J. Marr

Thursday 25th of May 2017

What Mindfulness Research, and Lazar in particular, conveniently Neglects

The neurological correlates of resting states have long been demonstrated to be equivalent to meditative states, a fact the Lazar neglects. That she does not perform studies comparing individuals who engage in resting protocols to meditators is also telling. In particular, the objective measurement of neuro-muscular inactivity and its neuro-chemical correlates (long established in the academic literature on resting states) is in general ignored by the academic literature on mindfulness, which is primarily based upon self-reports and neurological measures (fMRI) that cannot account for these facts. Specifically, resting states elicit enhanced levels of opioid activity in the brain, which also occurs in meditators. The problem with mindfulness research is therefore not theoretical, but empirical, and until it clearly accounts for all relevant observables for brain and body, the concept will never be fully explained.

More of this argument, including references, below including a link to the first study (published last year) that has discovered the presence of opioid activity due to mindfulness practice, as well as the 1988 Holmes paper which provided the most extensive argument to date that meditation was rest.