Photo from Yongey Foundation Gallery
Matthiew Ricard explores the relationship between meditation and the physical brain in his ““Meditate Yourself Better”” interview in January’s New Scientist magazine:
“The Dalai Lama often describes Buddhism as being, above all, a science of the mind. That is not surprising, because the Buddhist texts put particular emphasis on the fact that all spiritual practices – whether mental, physical or oral – are directly or indirectly intended to transform the mind…
Experiments have indicated that the region of the brain associated with emotions such as compassion shows considerably higher activity in those with long-term meditative experience. These discoveries suggest that basic human qualities can be deliberately cultivated through mental training. The study of the influence of mental states on health, which was once considered fanciful, is now an increasing part of the scientific research agenda.”
TIME created an excellent interactive map of the brain detailing what happens to each part of your noggin when you meditate. They also include graphs of their meditation training data and findings on wave changes in the brain. Meditation, it seems, provides positive stimulation while giving hard-working parts of the brain a much needed rest.
IONS published a broad review of the changes meditation makes with the body in their study called “The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation“. In this study they go beyond the mind’s reactions to include studies of changes in heart rate, blood flow, blood pressure, and more.