Sceptically Fit

22/10/2011

Taking Time Out

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 12:15

More evidence that meditation has a real tangible benefit. I’ve been contemplating bringing meditation into my routine for a while now, but with the usual procrastinating type excuses I have yet to find time. This is one more reason to try to.

Both before and after the 5 week period, everyone took part in a brief 15 minutes of attempted focused attention meditation. They were told: “relax with your eyes closed, and focus on the flow of your breath at the tip of your nose; if a random thought arises, acknowledge the thought and then simply let it go by gently bringing your attention back to the flow of your breath.” While they meditated, people wore a cap full of electrodes, creating a picture of their brain activity.

Billions of neurons in the human brain communicate by generating small electro-chemical signals. When probes from an instrument that measures electrical energy are placed near a brain cell, a voltage change can be registered whenever the neuron is active. These electrical potentials are relatively small and cannot be monitored individually in humans without actually opening the head – at least not yet. But, because neighboring neurons frequently are active close together in time, the behavior of a group of neurons can be measured with electrodes placed on the scalp.

People in the meditation group could attend up to nine, 30-minute meditation instruction sessions across a five week period. In actuality, they attended a little under 7 instruction sessions, averaging 5 hours and 16 minutes of training in total.

Even with this small amount of practice, the researchers found big differences in brain functioning. Specifically, meditation training seemed to shift activity in the frontal regions of the brain towards a pattern indicative of greater positive, approach-oriented emotional states.

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