Meditation: Effects on Emotion Shown to Persist

via Psych Central Meditation 2

Meditation affects a person’s brain function long after the act of meditation is over, according to new research.

“This is the first time meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state,” said Gaelle Desbordes, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Boston University Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology.

“Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.”

The researchers began the study with the hypothesis that meditation can help control emotional responses.

During meditation, a part of the brain called the amygdala (known for the processing of emotional stimuli) showed decreased activity. However, when the participants were shown images of other people that were either good, bad, or neutral for a practice known as “compassion meditation,” the amygdala was exceptionally responsive.

The subjects were able to focus their attention and greatly reduce their emotional reactions. And over an eight-week period, the participants retained this ability.

Even when they were not engaged in a meditative state, their emotional responses were subdued, and they experienced more compassion for others when faced with disturbing images.

Around the same time, another group at Harvard Medical School (HMS) began to study the effect of meditation on retaining information. Their hypothesis was that people who meditate have more control over alpha rhythm — a brain wave thought to screen out everyday distractions, allowing for more important information to be processed.

Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall,” said Catherine Kerr of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center, both at HMS.

“Our discovery that mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted the brain wave that screens out distraction could explain their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”

Both studies used participants that had no previous experience with meditation.

Over an eight-week period and a 12-week period, both groups showed a marked change in their daily normal brain function, while they were meditating and while they were involved in medial activities.

Some researchers believe that meditation might be the key to help ease off dependency on pharmaceutical drugs.

“The implications extend far beyond meditation,” said Kerr.

“They give us clues about possible ways to help people better regulate a brain rhythm that is deregulated in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions.”

  • Adamas Macalz

    Is there anything meditation can’t do? You can use it to alter yourself in any way you see fit if you know yourself and your triggers

  • Chaorder Gradient

    Who needs mindfulness meditation. How about some Madness meditation. Why subdue your reactivity when you can expand it.

    • BuzzCoastin

      because reactivity makes you part of the herd
      which is why things are designed to provoke reactivity
      inactivity and withdrawal are much more effective responses to aggression
      hence Jebus’ suggestion to turn the other cheek

      • Chaorder Gradient

        So you’re saying its better to be a herd of sheep than a herd of wolves? I suppose since we kill all the wolves you’re right from a survival perspective.

        • BuzzCoastin

          I’m suggesting that reactivity is what they want
          it’s a great excuse for Marshal Law
          but a withdrawal from the system hurts them deeply
          then they have little excuse for repression
          which Uncle Homey needs to hide behind his fake democracy
          even game theory shows
          that aggressive Alpha chimps
          die off because of confrontation and
          are survived by the more levelheaded chimps
          the meek shall inherit the Earth

          • echar

            What, this is utter B.S.!

            *shoots Buzzes brother who fought for the Union and starts a feud*

          • BuzzCoastin

            if you don’t agree
            I’ll have you arrested, GITMOed & waterboarded

          • echar

            This is not what my favorite corporate funded media talking head thinks you should do. Cease and desist or my lawyer will make you wish you were dead.

        • echar

          How about a mostly solitary slow loris, which is known to create social groups?

          • BuzzCoastin

            social structures are highly influenced by environments
            the history of the Chatham Island off the coast of NZ
            is very enlightening on this
            the population of this island evolved into a society without war
            because the environment couldn’t support a warlike society
            after several hundred, maybe thousands of years later
            they were discovered and concurred
            by the Maori, who had been subjugated by the British

          • echar

            If only our “leaders” would play a game of Go. When the game is over, the board flipped to the side with the indent, and the loser slits his throat, the blood to fill the indent.

            The “leaders” would be less likely to start wars.

          • InAwe

            yes. they need to have a life-death stake in their actions as well.

            Rather than just running to their nuclear-bomb proof shelters.

        • BuzzCoastin

          Kuai / Break-through (Resoluteness)

    • InAwe

      There is no point being reactivity alone, there has to be some thinking behind it.

      Thats where meditation comes into play. Calms your mind so that you aren’t played like a puppet by the overwhelming amount of simulants designed to do precisely that.

      From a quantum aspect, meditation (or just stilling the mind) also lets creativity blossom in ur mind. Just because it lets thoughts subconsciously interact and create new unknown thoughts from their mix.

    • eyebeam

      You mean, television?

  • Rx Relaxation

    I began a meditation practice several years ago and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I don’t meditate as much now but the benefits seem to have remained. And I’ve never gotten into chakra-blasting-extradimensional-lightworking-derived-from-esoteric-information-channeled-from-aliens. I’ve mostly learned to still my monkey mind through following my breath or silent mantra, ala TM. I think following my breath through the sensation of my nostrils has worked a little better than TM so maybe you can save a few bucks and just do what comes naturally. But learning a simple meditation practice might be the best investment in yourself you’ve ever encountered. Don’t just do something… sit there! Or something like that.

    • mannyfurious

      There are different forms of meditation. If sitting in a single spot doesn’t work for you, there are many kinds of “action” meditation. Basically, I find that meditation is more of state of mind (no duh, right?) than an act. Any act can become a form of meditation if the proper “mindfulness” is brought to it. This was the initial idea behind many forms of kung fu.

  • pneumerology

    I think it goes kind of like this… first you learn to pay attention as a deliberate act. then you pay attention to what’s going on in your own head. then you pay attention to what’s going on in the outer world. then you pay attention to how the two interact. then you start making conscious choices in your life. then you are no longer a robot marching to the drum beat of psychopaths. good luck.