What is meditation? -> Meditation has been among the most soulful practices since man started attempting to comprehend the mysteries within himself and in the universe. Meditation has also been an interesting subject-matter for scholars and thinkers. Researches have suggested that meditating consistently can eliminate symptoms in patients who endure lasting pain, even though the neurological reasons causing relief through meditation were not clear. Recently, MIT and Harvard researchers have discovered a plausible basis for this fact.
In an article published online April 21 in the gazette Brain Research Bulletin, the scientists discussed that people skilled to meditate for eight-week period were well equipped to manage certain kind of brain waves known as alpha rhythms.
These meditating episodes are deemed to reduce distraction and curb the possible stimuli to engage your attention. Data suggests that meditation training enables you to focus properly by helping you to manage and understand adequately how complications that may occur will impact you.
There are a number of different kinds of brain waves that assist to control the flow of data among brain cells, identical to the method that radio stations adopt to broadcast at designated frequencies. Alpha waves, the topic of this research, travel via cells in the brain’s cortex, where neural information is analyzed. The alpha waves allow minimizing unnecessary or complex sensory information.
A study conducted in 1966, elaborates that the throng of Buddhist monks who meditated consistently had managed to enhance their alpha wave patterns in their brains. In a recent research, the scientists observed the waves’ character in a certain section of the brain—cell of the sensory cortexes that analyze tangible information originating within hands and feet.
To undertake the research, 12 subjects were recruited who had never meditated in their lives before. 6 participants were educated in a method known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for eight weeks. On the contrary, the other six subjects were told not to meditate. The program required participants to meditate for 45 minutes every day, following an initial 150 min training session.
“The participants listen to an audio CD that takes them through the sessions. The initial couple of weeks are dedicated to give keen attention to physical sensations. They’re learning to regulate and control their focus during the beginning part of the training. Like, they study to pay continual attention to the sensations of the respiration. They also train to focus on physical sensations in a certain area, for example the bottom of the feet, afterwards they train to divert and shift the focus to some other body area”, informs Catherine Kerr, a trainer at Harvard Medical School and one of lead authors of the paper.
The researchers carried out brain scans of the participants before the research initiated, after three weeks and when it came to an end. After it was complete, the participants who had been educated in meditation, demonstrated huge changes in the pattern of their alpha waves when requested to focus their attention on a specific body part such as left foot. These variations in wave size appeared more quickly in the mediators.
Participants in this research did not get continual pain, but the results show that people who suffer from pain and meditate the useful effects may arise from an innate ability to avoid the effect caused because of pain signals. They manage to keep their attention focused on whatever they think rather than wasting their time focusing the area which suffers from pain.
The scientists are now devising follow-up studies for people who endure chronic pain and also cancer patients, who have been found to get some relief from meditation.