Meditation can change the way a person experiences pain, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists.
The researchers found that during a pain experiment, expert meditators felt the discomfort as intensely as novice meditators, but the experience wasn’t as unpleasant for them.
Images of brain regions linked to pain and anxiety may explain why. Compared to novice meditators, experts had less activity in the anxiety regions.
Not only did the experts feel less anxiety immediately before pain stimulation, they also became accustomed to the pain more quickly after being exposed repeatedly to it.
The scientists, based at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, … Read more »
Many people see meditation as an exotic form of daydreaming, or a quick fix for a stressed-out mind. My advice to them is, try it.
Meditation is difficult, at least to begin with. On my first attempt, instead of concentrating on my breathing and letting go of anything that came to mind, as instructed by my cheery Tibetan teacher, I got distracted by a string of troubled thoughts, then fell asleep. Apparently, this is normal for first-timers. Experienced meditators will assure you that it is worth persisting, however.
“Training allows us to transform the mind, to overcome destructive emotions and to dispel suffering,” says Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. “The numerous and profound methods that Buddhism … Read more »
Games geared toward working out the brain can improve cognitive functioning from middle age on. Most of us now know that we can keep our gray matter in peak form and even help stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s through mental exercises.
But change doesn’t come easy. Whether we are working on our memory or trying to meditate, brain-training exercises require a high level of mental focus to pay off in the end.
“It’s not easy to drive the brain’s connectivity,” said Michael Merzenich, an emeritus professor at UC San Francisco and a leading researcher in neuroplasticity. “You have to be engaged. I go nowhere if I’m not really paying attention to what I’m doing.”
The … Read more »