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Sara Lazar – How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains TED talk

Sara Lazar – How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains TED talk:

In this video 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 you.

Sara Lazar is the head of 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, heart beat) in order to understand how meditation practice influences the brain-body interaction.

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 with scientific meditation benefits: reduces stress, anxiety and depression, increases positive emotions and life satisfaction, improved brain function and memory, intuition develops, increases quality of sleep, normalized blood pressure and lower risk of heart attack and stroke, improves the immune system and the most important benefit – personal transformation.

Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.” – Miguel de Cervantes quote.

Sara Lazar meditation technique used in her studies is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing on your mind on the present. To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself. 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.

“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,” says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study’s senior author. “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.”

Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility, nor is it attempting to be a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.” – Chogyam Trungpa quote.

“Many people who approach the practice of Buddhism are willing to sacrifice one or two hours of their day in order to perform some ritual practice or engage in meditation.

Time is relatively easy to give up, even though their life may be very busy.

But, they are not willing to change anything of their personality – they are not willing to forgo anything of their negative character. With this type of approach to Buddhism, it hardly matters how much meditation we do, our practice remains merely a hobby or a sport.

It does not touch our lives. In order actually to overcome our problems, we have to be willing to change – namely to change our personality. We need to renounce and rid ourselves of those negative aspects of it that are causing us so much trouble.”, from The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra by H.H. the Dalai Lama & Alexander Berzin.

This video, How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains at TED Cambridge – presented by Sara Lazar, has subtitles in 15 languages.

Watch on more documentaries, like: Around the World in 80 Faiths, The Zen Mind, Ostrov, Yogis of Tibet, Inner Worlds, Outer WorldsRic Elias-3 things I learned while my plane crashed, You Can Heal Your Life, The Shift or Living Luminaries: On The Serious Business of Happiness.

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Insight State is a website for those who aspire to improve themselves and their life, as well as contribute to making the world a better place to live.

1 comment

  • 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.