How would you like to change that way that you think and change the way that you respond to negative situations with Meditation?
We live in a remarkable time. Not only are more people experiencing the benefits of meditation and mindfulness; the science of research into meditation and ongoing explorations into meditation as a neurobiological mediator are blossoming.
I’ve posted previously on the research into meditation using functional magnetic resonance imagine (fMRI) done by Dr. Richard Davidson and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Davidson’s seminal research has given rise to an increase in inquiry into how meditative practices can change the dynamics of the brain and behavior.
While some of the published results of this research can be difficult to get through without a background in neuroscience, or at least a basic understanding of brain structure and function, the outcomes of this research and the implications for healthcare and the practice of meditation cannot be discounted.
In a recent article, published 18 April 2011 in Frontiers in Neuroscience, researchers presented the results of a study which looked at whether meditators are more or less likely to accept unfair offers made in the Ultimatum Game.This game pits the rational mind against the emotional one in deciding whether to accept a certain portion of money from another individual (anywhere from 0 – 100% of the person’s total), and how the concept of an “unfair” offer affects the recipient, even when refusing to take the “unfair” offer may result in a zero-gain (nothing!) for the recipient. (please see the link that I’ve provided for a more detailed description of the game.)
The fMRI correlates and results of the study (provided below as a PDF) are loaded with terms (<- click here for a link to CSU’s Neuroscience on the Web list of terms) which may be unfamiliar or difficult for those not versed in principles of neuroscience. However, the overall preliminary results suggest that meditators were more likely to recruit regions of the brain related to attention to the present moment and interoception (relating to or being stimuli arising within the body or viscera), whereas the non-meditators (controls) relied more on areas of the brain linked to social disgust, playing a key role in social norm violations, rejection, betrayal and mistrust. Meditators seemed more able to uncouple from their negative emotional responses, avoiding the generation of aversive or negative responses.
What studies like this and like those of Davidson and others tell us is that we can quite literally change the ways that our brain functions through the formal practice of meditative techniques. The most important variable in these studies seems to be the presence of or lack of a meditation practice, meaning that if you don’t do it, you can’t change.
For me, knowing that I can modify or radically change my reactions to my environment, and find more peace in a mind which is less altered and distracted is a great incentive; how about you?
Would you take up a practice in meditation if you knew that by so doing, you could find more peace and a greater ability to handle not only your responses to situations as they arose, but also to choices that you made which could then affect what situations you found yourself in?
As I’ve done in other posts, here are some exercises to work with. In the not too distant future (I’m working on the files today), I’ll have the meditation audio tracks posted as well as a few great video lectures by researchers on the benefits of meditation. For now, enjoy the scripts and articles.