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You are browsing all posts tagged with the topic: neuroscience

Rick Hanson PhD

Jan 10, 2013

The neuro-benefits of meditation

DSC_0502(45).jpgMeditation is to the mind what aerobic exercise is to the body. Like exercise, there are many good ways to do it and you can find the one that suits you best.

Studies have shown that regular meditation promotes mindfulness (sustained observing awareness), whose benefits include decreased stress-related cortisol, insomnia, symptoms of autoimmune illnesses, PMS, asthma, falling back into depression, general emotional distress, anxiety, and panic, and increased immune system factors, control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, detachment from reactions, self-understanding, and general well-being.

In your brain, regular meditation increases gray matter (neuronal cell bodies and synapses) in the:

  • Insula – Handles interoception (sense of your own body); self-awareness in general; empathy for

Wildmind Meditation News

Dec 16, 2012

The power of concentration

Maria Konnikova, New York Times: Meditation and mindfulness: the words conjure images of yoga retreats and Buddhist monks. But perhaps they should evoke a very different picture: a man in a deerstalker, puffing away at a curved pipe, Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself. The world’s greatest fictional detective is someone who knows the value of concentration, of “throwing his brain out of action,” as Dr. Watson puts it. He is the quintessential unitasker in a multitasking world.

More often than not, when a new case is presented, Holmes does nothing more than sit back in his leather chair, close his eyes and put together …

Read the original article »

Rick Hanson PhD

Dec 15, 2012

When you feel like you’re “not enough”

Girls hands holding ripe blueberriesOne slice of the pie of life feels relaxed and contented. And then there is that other slice, in which we feel driven and stressed. Trying to get pleasures, avoid pains, pile up accomplishments and recognitions, be loved by more people. Lose more weight, try to fill the hole in the heart. Slake the thirst, satisfy the hunger. Strive, strain, press.

This other slice is the conventional strategy for happiness. We pursue it for four reasons.

  • The brain evolved through its reptilian, mammalian, and primate/human stages to meet three needs: avoid harms, approach rewards, and attach to others. In terms of these three needs, animals that were nervous, driven, and
  • Tara Brach

    Nov 26, 2012

    Opening the gateway of love

    As one of the American pioneers credited for bringing Eastern spirituality to the West, Ram Dass had more than four decades of spiritual training to help guide him when he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage in 1997. Nonetheless, in the hours after his devastating stroke, he lay in a gurney staring at the pipes on the hospital ceiling, feeling utterly helpless and alone. No uplifting thoughts came to rescue him, and he was unable to regard what was happening with mindfulness or self-compassion. In that crucial moment, as he put it bluntly, “I flunked the test.”

    I sometimes tell his story to students who …

    Wildmind Meditation News

    Nov 16, 2012

    Meditation changes experience of pain

    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, run a robust program analyzing the effects of meditation. …

    Wildmind Meditation News

    Nov 14, 2012

    Imaging finds different forms of meditation may affect brain structure

    A new study has found that participating in an eight-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating. In their report in the November issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, investigators at Harvard Medical School-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston University (BU), and several other research centers also found differences in those effects based on the specific type of meditation practiced.

    “The two different types of meditation training our study participants completed yielded some differences in the response of the amygdala — a part of the brain known for decades to be important for emotion — to images with emotional content,” says Gaëlle Desbordes, a research fellow at the Athinoula …

    Tara Brach

    Nov 13, 2012

    The opportunity of “the magic quarter-second”

    In her book My Stroke of Insight, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor explains that the natural life span of an emotion—the average time it takes for it to move through the nervous system and body—is only a minute and a half, a mere ninety seconds. After that, we need thoughts to keep the emotion rolling. So, if we wonder why we lock into painful emotional states like anxiety, depression, or rage, we need look no further than our own endless stream of inner dialogue.

    Modern neuroscience has discovered a fundamental truth: Neurons that fire together, wire together. When we rehearse a looping set of thoughts and emotions, we …

    Rick Hanson PhD

    Nov 05, 2012

    “The Compassionate Brain” free seven-part video series

    For Sounds True, I’m hosting a free Seven-part video series with extraordinary guests – The Compassionate Brain – that will give you effective ways to change your brain and heart and life. So far over 25,000 people have signed up for this free series, and I hope you will join us – and help spread the word to others.

    The series began October 8, 2012, and runs on seven consecutive Monday nights, 8-9 pm Eastern time, through November 19. You can go back and watch the archived videos from previous interviews.

    Each week, I’m interviewing a world-class scholar/teacher (in order): Richie Davidson, Dan Siegel, Tara Brach, Dachar …

    Bodhipaksa

    Oct 05, 2012

    The world’s happiest man talks about happiness

    Sometimes called the “happiest man in the world,” Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, author and photographer.

    After training in biochemistry at the Institute Pasteur, Matthieu Ricard left science behind to move to the Himalayas and become a Buddhist monk — and to pursue happiness, both at a basic human level and as a subject of inquiry. Achieving happiness, he has come to believe, requires the same kind of effort and mind training that any other serious pursuit involves.

    Transcript: So, I guess it is a …

    Wildmind Meditation News

    Oct 04, 2012

    Compassion meditation may boost neural basis of empathy

    A compassion-based meditation program can significantly improve a person’s ability to read the facial expressions of others, finds a study published by Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. This boost in empathic accuracy was detected through both behavioral testing of the study participants and through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of their brain activity.

    “It’s an intriguing result, suggesting that a behavioral intervention could enhance a key aspect of empathy,” says lead author Jennifer Mascaro, a post-doctoral fellow in anthropology at Emory University. “Previous research has shown that both children and adults who are better at reading the emotional expressions of others have better relationships.”

    The meditation protocol, known as Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, or CBCT, was developed at Emory by …