For centuries Buddhist practitioners of meditation have maintained that mental discipline and meditative practice can change how the brain works and allow people to achieve different levels of awareness.
Now research on the brain has actually proven it.
Researchers working with Tibetan monks are now able to translate the mental experience of transcendence into the scientific language of high-frequency gamma waves and brain synchrony.
Put your fingers on the left part of your forehead. It’s behind this spot – your left prefrontal cortex, the area just behind your left forehead – that will be different if you’re a long-time practitioner of meditation. Most importantly, this is an area associated with happiness and positive thoughts and emotions.
Richard Davidson, the principle researcher in this area, found incredible brain activation in this area among long-time meditation practitioners. According to Davidson, “their mental practice is having an effect on the brain in the same way golf or tennis practice will enhance performance.”
For Davidson, it’s now obvious the brain is capable of being trained and physically modified in ways few people can imagine.
Once upon a time scientists believed the opposite: brain nerve cells were fixed early in life and didn’t change in adulthood. Research over the past decade, though, has shown that we must re-evaluate this idea. We now know that the brain has the potential to constantly develop. This is the idea behind neuroplasticity.
Through mental training and meditation we can change the ‘circuitry’ of our own minds.
These incredible findings are the outcome of a long-time partnership between Davidson and the Dalai Lama. From the beginning, the Dalai Lama was interested in having Davidson scientifically explore the workings of his monks’ meditating minds. A number of the Dalai Lama’s most accomplished practitioners were sent to Davidson’s lab.
When compared to the control group, the practitioners demonstrated that meditation activated their minds in significantly different ways than from the control subjects. Electrodes picked up much greater activation of fast-moving and unusually powerful gamma waves in the monks. It was found that the movement of the waves through the monks’ brains was far better organized and coordinated than in the controls.
The significance of this research cannot be underestimated.
For an insightful review of this research, you must watch the following Dan Rather news report. Also stay tuned for the following parts in this series on the mind.
This is pretty incredible information. Are you surprised by this evidence? Do these findings inspire you to take up a regular meditation program?