If your doctor asks you to meditate you may wonder what its uses might be. While it is generally understood that meditation results in mental peace and calmness, and some also say that it makes you stress free and improves your concentration, this is just a sample of what meditation can do for your life if you embrace it wholly.
Traditionally, meditation has been perceived as only a religious practice associated with Hinduism and other Indian religions. Later on it was accepted as a spiritual practice common to all religions. But meditation is not just a religious or spiritual practice.
In recent times, meditation has been studied by scientists, especially neuroscientists who are trying to understand the impact of meditation on the human brain.
Let us look at an investigation into the relationship between the brain and the mind. During the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conference in November, 2004, an article was presented validating that mental training through meditation and single-minded focus can change the inner workings of the brain. The article demonstrated that it is quite possible to change the way the brain works, thereby changing the mind.
In the study, Buddhist monks with considerable expertise in meditation were asked to focus on specific states of mind such as compassion and unconditional love. All the subjects were connected to 256 electrical sensors for a sophisticated scan to measure brain wave activity.
During their single-minded focus, their brains became more coordinated and organized in processing mental activity than the brains of a control group, who could not even come close to demonstrating brain wave patterns similar to those produced by the expert monks. Some of the monks, who had practiced meditating for up to 50,000 hours, displayed frontal lobe activity and overall brain wave activity that are connected to higher mental functioning and heightened awareness. In fact, they could change the way their brain worked, on command.
The results showed that frontal lobe activity was dramatically elevated in the monks compared to the control group. In fact, the monks who had meditated the longest showed levels of one kind of electrical brain impulses, called gamma waves, that were higher than researchers had ever seen in a healthy person. These particular brain wave states are typically present when the brain is making new circuits.
The left frontal lobe is the area in the brain that correlates with joy. In one Buddhist monk, his activity was so enhanced in the left frontal region, the scientists performing the study said that he must be the happiest man alive.
“What we found is that the longtime practitioners showed brain activation on a scale we have never seen before” stated Richard Davidson, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin, who headed the experiment. He added, “Their mental practice is having an effect on the brain in the same way golf or tennis practice will enhance performance.” In a later interview, Dr. Davidson said, “What we found is that the trained mind, or brain, is physically different from the untrained one.
Not only this, there are several experiments that have been conducted and are still being conducted by scientists to uncover the true potential of meditation. So what are you waiting for? Go and start practicing meditation, so that you can enjoy its benefits too. But always keep this in mind, if you practice it only for few days or if you practice once in a while and expect miracles to happen, definitely you can’t make it. You have to practice it consistently with full involvement.
– by Dr. M. Kabilan