Continual Meditation Increases Brain Waves According to recent reports…
Scientists have revealed that meditation can cause beneficial changes in the brain. The research reports that those who meditated for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks, had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain. These parts of the brain were associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. Brain Waves were monitored, and the results are impressive…
M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after meditation found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area that’s used primarily for learning and memory. The images also highlighted a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region linked to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes.
Britta Hölzel, the study’s lead author and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said the participants practiced mindfulness meditation. This form of meditation was introduced into the United States in the late 1970’s with roots to the ancient practice of Buddhist Meditation.
“The main idea is to use different objects to focus one’s attention, and it could be a focus on sensations of breathing, or emotions or thoughts, or observing any type of body sensations,” she said. “But it’s about bringing the mind back to the here and now, as opposed to letting the mind drift.
It’s important to remember that the human brain is a very complicated organ. Understanding what the increased density of gray matter really means is an ongoing study.
In a separate study by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), research suggests that meditation yields more marked changes in the electrical brain wave activity associated with wakeful and relaxed attention, than just resting without any specific mental technique.
“Given the popularity and effectiveness of meditation as a means of alleviating stress and maintaining good health, there is a pressing need for a rigorous investigation of how it affects brain function,” says Professor Jim Lagopoulos of Sydney University, Australia.
Lagopoulos is the principal investigator in the joint study between his university and researchers from the NTNU on changes in electrical brain activity during nondirective meditation.
The brain always has some level of electrical activity, whether we are mentally active, resting or asleep. During this study, researchers monitored the frequency and location of electrical brain waves through the use of EEG (electroencephalography). EEG electrodes were placed on participants using a custom-made hat.
The Participants of the study were experienced practitioners of Acem Meditation, a nondirective method that was developed in Norway. They were asked to rest with their eyes closed for 20 minutes, before meditating for a further 20. The abundance and location of slow to fast electrical brain waves (delta, theta, alpha, beta) provide a good indication of brain activity during meditation.
During the study, the theta brain waves were most abundant in the frontal and middle parts of the brain.
“These types of waves likely originate from a relaxed attention that monitors our inner experiences. Here lies a significant difference between meditation and relaxing without any specific technique,” emphasizes Lagopoulos.
Alpha brain waves were much higher in the posterior parts of the brain during the meditation part of the exercise, than during the 20 minutes of relaxation. Alpha Waves are characteristic of wakeful rest.
Delta brain waves are characteristic of sleep. There was little delta activity during the relaxing and meditative tasks. This concludes that nondirective meditation is different from sleep.
Beta brain waves are characteristic of the brain working on goal-oriented tasks, such as planning a work project or reflecting actively over a particular issues. The EEG showed much less beta waves during meditation and resting.
“These findings indicate that you step away from problem solving both when relaxing and during meditation,” says Ellingsen.
There are several studies that indicate better relaxation and stress management can be achieved by meditation techniques when you refrain from controlling the content of the mind.
These methods are often described as non directive as they do not relate to a specific experience, or state of mind. They allow a person much greater control over the mind without getting too involved. Instead of concentrating on getting away from stressful thought and emotions, you simple let them pass in an effortless way. This is mindfulness meditation and the benefits are many. Enhanced Brain Waves being just one!