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Meditation - the Brain Work-out

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rick Hanson posted an article on how to ‘trick’ the brain for happiness
but I was immediately drawn to the information on meditation.

He discusses three facts:
Fact one: As the brain changes, the mind changes, for better or worse.
Fact two: As the mind changes, the brain changes
Fact three: You can use the mind to change the brain to change the mind for the better.

“The education of attention would be an education par excellence.” --William James

As he detailed Fact two, he stated “what flows through the mind sculpts the brain” and two studies supporting meditative practice.

1. Meditators have measurably thicker parts of the brain
- the insula, “which is involved in…tuning into the state of your body, as well as your deep feelings”
- regions of the prefrontal cortex “involved in controlling attention”
(and eliminating monkey-mind…) emoticon

2. By ‘using it’ we’re not ‘losing it’
Cortical thinning is normal with aging. But meditators (blue dots on the graph below) did not experience thinning in the insula or prefrontal cortex by ‘working’ those areas.

Finally he talked about one of his favorite methods to practice Fact 3, “Taking in the good”.
1. Let a good fact become a good experience – no matter how small
2. Really savor this positive experience – make it intense for as long as possible
3. Sense your intent that this experience is sinking into you - use visualization; a golden light, a soothing balm, a jewel going into the treasure chest of your heart

Here’s to all of us ‘Taking in the Good’ and using our mindfulness to ‘work’ our brains as we become "AWAKE! ALIVE! AWARE! and Appreciative of ALL that IS".

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