July 7, 2014

Meditation Increases Brain Activity

Meditation Increases Brain Activity

Meditation has been practiced for ages, but until now, little research has focused on the benefits of different kinds of techniques. Recently, a new study was published discussing how different forms of meditation affect the brain.

All forms of meditation can be divided into two groups, concentrative meditation and non-directive meditation. In concentrative meditation, focus is centered on one thing such as breathing or heartbeat, suppressing attention to anything else. Non-directive meditation uses a technique that after relaxing, allows the mind to wander freely and effortlessly wherever the mind wishes to go.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Oslo and the University of Sydney are now studying how the brain works during different kinds of meditation.  When we practice meditation our brain processes more thoughts and feelings than when we are simply relaxing, concluded a coalition of researchers.

“The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation.”

Fourteen people with extensive experience in different forms of meditation were observed while using concentrative meditation, non-directive meditation and just resting. Scientists were surprised to find greater brain activity when the brain was not doing anything specific and activity increased in the same area where thoughts and feelings are processed.

“This area of the brain has its highest activity when we rest. It represents a kind of basic operating system, a resting network that takes over when external tasks do not require our attention. It is remarkable that a mental task like nondirective meditation results in even higher activity in this network than regular rest,” says Davanger, a neuroscientist and co-author of the study.

Mindfulness, Zen, meditative drumming, Chakra, Buddhist and Transcendental are popular forms of meditation with their own unique techniques. However, they all have the similar purpose of creating a more peaceful, stress-free,  self-awareness for better mental health and concentration. It is important for science to investigate the benefits of meditation and understand exactly how it works. One thing is currently clear, meditation stimulates the brain.



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