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How meditating may help your brain
November 21st, 2011
06:05 PM ET

How meditating may help your brain

When you're under pressure from work and family and the emails don't stop coming, it's hard to stop your mind from jumping all over the place.

But scientists are finding that it may be worth it to train your brain to focus on something as simple as your breath, which is part of mindfulness meditation.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the latest in a hot emerging field of research examining how meditation relates to the brain. It shows that people who are experienced meditators show less activity in the brain's default mode network, when the brain is not engaged in focused thought.

The default mode network is associated with introspection and mind wandering. Typically, drifting thoughts tend to focus on negative subjects, creating more stress and anxiety. It has also been linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers looked at experienced meditators and trained novices. There were 12 in the "experienced" category, with an average of more than 10,000 hours of mindfulness meditation experience (Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" suggests that it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at something), and 12 healthy volunteers who were novices in meditation.

Each volunteer was instructed to engage in three types of meditation: concentration (attention to the breath), love-kindness (wishing beings well) and choiceless awareness (focus on whatever comes up). Scientists looked at their brain activity during these meditations with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Across all of these types of meditation, the experienced meditators showed less activity in the default mode network than in the novices. The experienced participants also reported less mind wandering than the novices. Interestingly, experienced meditators also showed increased connectivity between certain brain networks during meditation and non-meditation.

"It doesn't matter what they're doing, they have an altered default mode network," said Dr. Judson Brewer, medical director of the Yale University Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic and lead author of the study. "We were pretty excited about that, because it suggests that these guys are paying attention a lot more."

From this particular study, researchers can't say whether meditating is beneficial to the brain. But, viewed in conjunction with other studies showing the positive effects of mindfulness training for depression, substance abuse, anxiety and pain disorders, it seems to have promise. Also, a 2010 study found that people tend to be more unhappy when they their mind is wandering.

"Putting all those together, we might be able to start get at what the mechanisms of mindfulness are," Brewer said.

But the study does not address the issue of cause: Is meditation changing the brain, or do people who already have these brain patterns get interested in meditation?

"Emerging data from our group and others suggests that some things thought to be result of meditation might be cause of meditation," said Dr. Charles Raison, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

If some people are just better at keeping their minds from wandering, that would also be consistent with the Buddhist idea that your capabilities are the result of your Karmic path, so meditation may be better suited to some people than others, Raison said.

Someday, if brain scans become cheap enough, one day there might be a test to see who can benefit most from mindfulness training, Raison said.

In the meantime, scientists should explore these open questions by doing longitudinal studies, Raison said. That would involve assigning some people to meditate and some people to not meditate, and following the groups over time to see whether a change in brain activity patterns is visible.


soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Karen Ross

    If meditating keeps mind from wandering. I think we should be focusing on teaching congress to meditate. What a bunch of clowns!!

    November 21, 2011 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • R

      Do not keep your hopes up. These are very messed up minds.

      November 21, 2011 at 20:10 | Report abuse |
    • UkeOnTheBeach

      Way to politicize a completely non-political subject. We all thank you for your insight and relevant commentary.

      November 21, 2011 at 20:14 | Report abuse |
    • jr

      yeah

      November 21, 2011 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • Laurelnur

      Ha!!! The day will come. I saw 3 Budhist monks at the Apple store last week.

      November 21, 2011 at 22:23 | Report abuse |
    • jimmy c

      Now the clowns are p.o. !!!!!!!!!!................sad.................situation..............

      November 21, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
    • neal arbic

      lol

      November 22, 2011 at 00:33 | Report abuse |
    • hawaiiduude

      hey uke EVERYTHING about zyonist cnn is political.

      November 22, 2011 at 02:41 | Report abuse |
    • Eric S

      Hey Hawaiidude, if you're going to be antisemitic, you might want to do yourself and your cause a solid and not spell "Zionist" incorrectly. It makes you appear as stupid as you are.

      November 22, 2011 at 03:12 | Report abuse |
    • patel

      for congress it;s all about money and power. so sad that people whom we vote for they become richer and richer and we struggle to find jobs and pay bills and support family. they are meditating but they meditating wealth and power. and that is why they are so successful..

      November 22, 2011 at 06:51 | Report abuse |
  2. jesus

    The only way to save our future is to start incorporationg meditation into the school system. Mediation should be part of everybody's daily practice. If everybody meditated –learned to see the world for the amazing place it is, there would be no wars.

    November 21, 2011 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Percy

      Meditation not only saved my life but could probably save many others. I have but one regret in my life, not starting much earlier when I was young!

      November 21, 2011 at 21:21 | Report abuse |
    • thatlldoelephant

      I don't know, sounds a little too much like prayer for the democrats, and not enough like prayer for the republicans. I don't think it would ever pass.

      November 21, 2011 at 21:29 | Report abuse |
    • PR

      Bravo !!!!!

      November 21, 2011 at 23:05 | Report abuse |
    • TruthSeeker

      Meditation can be difficult if you are not already familiar with it. I recommend to start with short sessions and with some assistance, for example sound therapy. The sounds of nature are great to relax and focus your attention, because they are very random, but at the same time flowing. So when you focus your attention completely into the music and try to pay attention to every detail, your mind automatically relaxes. You enter a meditative state without trying too hard, which would otherwise prevent you from reaching such a state. Try some of the natural recordings from TranscendentalTones. They vary in duration from 5 minutes up to 40.

      November 22, 2011 at 02:39 | Report abuse |
    • thezel

      ..and that's why my kids go to Catholic school.

      November 22, 2011 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
    • Michael Hunt Esq.

      "If everybody meditated –learned to see the world for the amazing place it is, there would be no wars."
      Ha! Good one.

      November 22, 2011 at 08:53 | Report abuse |
    • Sunflower

      So why not start it at home? If you think it should be in school, start in your own household... And to the poster that said that's why they send their kids to Catholic School?........ That is precisely why I DIDN'T. Didn't want their minds polluted with hocus pocus CRAP, lies, myths, dogma, and irresponsible rules (ie: no birth control)

      November 22, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
    • Oyuna

      it would be our naive dream.

      December 20, 2011 at 06:21 | Report abuse |
  3. Mike-Bell

    Much like prayer. Only with voice in your head that one doesn't acknowledge.
    If one isn't hearing voices, they're not thinking.

    November 21, 2011 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Much like prayer. Only with voice in your head that one doesn't acknowledge.
      If one isn't hearing voices, they're not thinking.

      I like vipassana better. You sit and observe your body(or mind depending on technique) like a scientist observing lab rat or something similar. Except you don't react to what is happening, just acknowledge them.

      November 21, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse |
    • pockets

      Vipassana meditation is the "only" way to truly meditate. I spent the best 10 days of my life learning the technique. Its incredible.

      November 22, 2011 at 00:04 | Report abuse |
  4. Sanjiv

    I am Chess player and IT Engineer. I know Meditation really help to use your brain in proper direction.

    November 21, 2011 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bodhisattva

      But it cannot help with grammar or diction, apparently ;-)

      November 22, 2011 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
    • Bikram

      Give the guy a break. Based on his hobbies and his name, English is not the first language he has mastered.

      November 22, 2011 at 05:33 | Report abuse |
  5. david vu

    Meditation, karma and so on..are from Hinduism. Buddhism is a small sect, now almost extinct in India..The Buddha is just another incarnation of Vishnu..

    November 21, 2011 at 20:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dude

      you are 100% wrong.

      November 21, 2011 at 21:00 | Report abuse |
    • Johny

      Buddha is incarnation of Sri Krishna, Vishnu is also incarnation of Krishna, just like Shiva and Brahnma. Jesus is shaktyavesha Avatara of Krishna. there. :-)

      November 21, 2011 at 21:13 | Report abuse |
    • runner305

      You're joking, right?!

      November 21, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse |
    • Belarius Marek

      Umm.. Buddha was a real person that lived about 2500 years ago that taught, among other things, that mindfulness can lead one away from Samsara, or suffering, in this life. Hence, meditation is a valuable part of Buddhist practice to keep one centered in the here and now.
      He was not a god. He was a man of great insight and enlightenment. His teachings influence millions throughout the world.

      November 21, 2011 at 21:48 | Report abuse |
    • abmind

      You are 100% right. To be precise meditation is part of Yoga, Budha, Jesus , Mohammad and several others practiced to realise the truth

      November 21, 2011 at 21:50 | Report abuse |
    • Johnny

      Bhuddism originated from Hinduism. Bhuddism is to Hinduism what Tea Party is to Republicans.

      Bhuddism is simply a subset of Hinduism.

      November 21, 2011 at 22:51 | Report abuse |
    • lance corporal

      c'mon now you just.... oh wait this is too stooopid to argue with

      November 21, 2011 at 23:36 | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Wow you are a moron...

      November 22, 2011 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
    • Lazo

      @David Vu: Commiserations Sir!! You are right but I guess you would have been prepared for ignorant responses. Meditation, yoga and many other mind healing techniques are from Hindu scriptures that predate the Buddhist teaching by many many centuries. Hinduism is the oldest of religions with scriptures and teachings so vast that many sects and religions can be born out of those different scriptures. I have studied religions in detail but came to a screeching halt with Hinduism – it is like a tunnel which you enter but there is no end , the journey is incredible though.

      November 22, 2011 at 00:57 | Report abuse |
    • Does it matter?

      Meditation originated and was perfected in the Hindu religion. It was propagated and explored by the Buddhists.
      However does it even matter? A true meditator (Yogi ), Hindu or Buddhist, wouldn't gloat over either of the above facts. In the larger scheme of things such pride in undesirable.

      Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavanthu.

      November 22, 2011 at 03:00 | Report abuse |
    • shiningstar

      Your mind is wandering into a foolish debate. You've missed the point and focused on what you believe to be "facts". : )

      November 22, 2011 at 08:14 | Report abuse |
  6. steve

    Meditation = harmony with the Universe. Everyone should start their day with quiet sitting concentrating on each
    inhale and exhale at their lower abdomen for 10-15 minutes. Thus learning to be intimate with themselves, one of the most important relationships any of us can have.

    November 21, 2011 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. TheLeftCoast

    The UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in San Francisco is studying the effectiveness of mindfulness and meditation for everything from overeating to cancer.

    November 21, 2011 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thatlldoelephant

      What if I ate my cancer?

      November 21, 2011 at 21:27 | Report abuse |
  8. negligence///!!!!!!

    ALl WE NEED T0 DO IS PRAY. DAaaaaaa

    November 21, 2011 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sahajayoga meditation

    http://www.freemeditation.com

    November 21, 2011 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Prasad

      Thanks for sharing. It looks simple, will be worth trying, nothing to lose.

      November 21, 2011 at 22:04 | Report abuse |
  10. thatlldoelephant

    The CEOs of the big companies won't hire anyone so that we all blame Obama so they can get their guy back in the white house so they can pollute our planet at an even faster rate and destroy the economy by taking more and paying employees less and then they will outlaw abortion and birth control, and we will swell the planet's population at the same time we are wasting and destroying resources and I just can't take it anymore!!!!! AAAAAAAGGH!
    Oh.... meditate you say?
    Ooooooooooooooohhhhhm. Ooooooooooooooohhhhhm.
    Phew. All better.

    November 21, 2011 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cote

      All you need is a Nuclear war, then you won't have to think about abortion or birth control anymore. Problem solved.

      November 22, 2011 at 06:47 | Report abuse |
  11. Wa

    This is a "hot emerging field of research"? The fact that research is (finally!) *emerging* in the mainstream media and medical community does not make it *emerging research.*

    November 21, 2011 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Satheesan Kochicheril

    “The (state of) vacancy should be brought to the utmost degree, and that of stillness guarded with unwearying vigour. All things alike go through their process of activity, and (then) we see them return (to their original state). When things (in the vegetable world) have displayed their luxuriant growth, we see each of them return to its root. This returning to their root is what we call the state of stillness; and that stillness may be called a reporting that they have fulfilled their appointed end.
    The report of that fulfilment is the regular, unchanging rule. "To know that unchanging rule is to be intelligent; not to know it leads to wild movements and evil issues. The knowledge of that unchanging rule produces a (grand) capacity and forbearance, and that capacity and forbearance lead to a community (of feeling with all things). From this community of feeling comes a kingliness of character; and he who is king-like goes on to be heaven-like. In that likeness to heaven he possesses the Tao. Possessed of the Tao he endures long; and to the end of his bodily life, is exempt from all danger of decay." (16.2. Part I ‘Tao Te Ching’,)

    November 21, 2011 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. jrh

    This is news? This has been known fact for several thousand years everywhere except here in the screwed up western world. It must really be a slow news day.

    November 21, 2011 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • les

      And....the west is so much more screwed up than say....the middle east? or Haiti?

      November 21, 2011 at 21:47 | Report abuse |
    • Freddy

      I think he (les) missed your point entirely

      November 21, 2011 at 22:20 | Report abuse |
  14. Jacob Ezekial

    This is what the Art of Living has been teaching for decades. http://www.artofliving.org

    November 21, 2011 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Meditation_Craig

    lols well honestly, I'm on the computer about 10-14 hours a day... studying, sometimes i can't sleep. I feel like crap when I wake up each morning at 10-11ish... tried buying a new bed, getting massages... then I tried meditating 2 years ago 30 minutes straight without stopping. 1. get in a comfortable position, 2. concentrate on each tense muscle in ur body (shoulders, legs, fingers, neck, thighs) and relax it, 3. breathe in through ur nose, and out of your mouth each time concentrate more on your breath. 4. (this depends on you) I imagine myself in a small island(in space, underwater, clouds), I see the word Happy and i concentrate on that word. DONT Think of the stuff that makes you happy, but just the word itself (ur brain is smart enough to connect the dots) well after 30 minutes of meditating I didn't feel any better or more realxed or even happier. I went to sleep that night at 12:30 and woke up the next day at 8:15 like a newborn baby..full of energy none of that "uhh 5 more min of sleep" feeling, it was a crazy/amazing feeling... I've been doing it off and on eversince. It works some people can do it better then others. TRY IT.

    November 21, 2011 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ty

      I totally agreed with you. I hope everyone here try to do as follow your theory. I did once awhile...it made me find peace inside my body. A quiet place and early morning is perfect for practicing meditation.

      November 21, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
  16. les

    Howard Stern has done TM for over 30 years and credits that with his success ($500,000,000) contract over 5 years! It must help in some way......

    November 21, 2011 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Soldier of Christ

    its all about prayer, comunion with God, and letting the Holy Spirit guide you. God Bless you all

    November 21, 2011 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      "There are two ways to meet god; the first is death, the second is meditation."

      November 21, 2011 at 22:28 | Report abuse |
    • pockets

      Awwwww now 'god' enters the picture and puts a real damper on the subject. This imaginary diety, like so many are just fairy tales. Become a "soldier to Reality" and drop the 'christ foolishness.

      November 22, 2011 at 00:08 | Report abuse |
    • Cote

      He is all you need to go to sleep, and have a good nights sleep.He gives you that peace that surpasses all understanding.

      November 22, 2011 at 07:16 | Report abuse |
    • BL

      Meditation is a great part of the tradition of Christianity. "Be still and know that I am God."

      November 22, 2011 at 08:58 | Report abuse |
  18. slustu

    "Also, a 2010 study found that people tend to be more unhappy when THEY THEIR mind is wandering." Oh beautiful irony.

    November 21, 2011 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mike Blaszak

    To the person underneath the Video, above: Why do you think we don't like fake wars?

    November 21, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. bill

    Pull two bongs and call me in the morning. Centered for sure.

    November 21, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ben

    Meditation has many benefits and is one of the "esorteric" secrets that the west adopted from those of the east. Other stuff people should look into these other subjects: the pineal gland, kundalini, tai chi, chi projection that should keep you entertained for the rest of this lifetime.

    November 21, 2011 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Jay

    meditation brings peace, just like following peacefull religion Islam

    November 21, 2011 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Johnny

      Whenever i think of Islam i think of Two 747 airliners ramming into a building

      November 21, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
    • Lazo

      That was a joke – right? While millions of muslims live life peacefully, it is a fact that almost all terrorists and related activities are attributed to Islamic groups.

      November 22, 2011 at 00:51 | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Nothing like someone taking an opportunity to attack Islam

      November 22, 2011 at 07:04 | Report abuse |
  23. Johnny

    Bhuddism originated from Hinduism.

    Bhuddism is simply a subset of Hinduism.

    Gautama Buddha cherry picked the philosphies/teachings of Hinduism and gave birth to Bhuddism.

    November 21, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lance corporal

      and....

      this is simply not true

      November 21, 2011 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
    • tintala

      Buddha was a Nepali prince, who saw suffering after having an privalged life, decided to suffer himself, but yes, Siddartha was basically hindu ...

      November 22, 2011 at 00:47 | Report abuse |
    • Lazo

      You are right in many ways except that it might not be cherry picking. Buddha realized the same beliefs that Hinduism is built upon although Hindu scriptures predate Buddhist teachings by centuries. Yoga , meditation , even the basic salutation of Hindus that is "Namaste" is a way of acknowledging the difference between you and me yet realizing that the different beings are still the manifestations of the almighty.

      November 22, 2011 at 00:48 | Report abuse |
    • BL

      Buddha did originate from the Hindu/Vedic tradition, but like Jesus, he was a total revolutionary. He discarded the dogma and ritual and found a practical, direct and simple method of awakening in this lifetime.

      November 22, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
  24. Richard

    It is good to meditate on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, we should think about these things.

    Let us renew our minds instead of emptying it.

    November 21, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Dave

    >>That would involve assigning some people to meditate and some people to not meditate, and following the groups over time to see whether a change in brain activity patterns is visible<<

    Right–good luck with that. Ain't gonna happen. People need to CHOOSE to meditate. You can't get a pool of people who are interested, then tell 1/2 that they can't! And if the pool has people with no interest, they will not stick with it if they are in the meditation group. So, yes, there is the question of whether those who CHOOSE to meditate are different from the get-go from those who don't choose to.

    November 21, 2011 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. modhuhu

    Meditation by capturing your breath is the most simple way to not suffer (According to my understanding)
    If you would like to stop your circle of life then you need to be concious all the time. Then need to realize the the body doesn't belong to you. Actually you (your spirit) cannot own anything. If you really own your body then try to stop becoming older.

    November 21, 2011 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lance corporal

      don't discount the vehicle

      November 21, 2011 at 23:31 | Report abuse |
  27. lance corporal

    this doctor has taken a very limited sample and drawn a conclusion with no support, people who have experience in substance abuse/criminal counseling and other areas have repeatedly seen meditation change the brains of people who formerly had no control, this doctor talks about 10,000 hours to know something but then draws a conclusion based on one study, people who have REAL substantial 1000s of hours working with meditation as a tool have a better understanding of it and know that even people who don't take well to it at first are helped by it, his conclusion is such bunk you have to wonder what the bias is. meditation is an amazing tool that we are missing out on due to our prejudices against anything remotely "hippie/new age/alternative"

    November 21, 2011 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. yahoo

    it has become a fashion off late ... to impress pretty girls :P

    November 21, 2011 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ram Sekhar

      Smart comment. Have you tried meditating at all?

      November 22, 2011 at 02:33 | Report abuse |
  29. aman

    meditations is an eastern idea...out of india mainly and its should be duly credited.

    November 22, 2011 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Drew

    I have meditated for years. It REALLY does help calm and focus the mind, and I don't mean just for the moment or session. Meditating one day helps you be more focused for the next two or three. You don't have to do it everyday to get some benefit. And the article is RIGHT ON in that it's extremely helpful in stressful times. People who enjoy the benefits of calming and focusing there mind with simple meditating...are often very successful in life.

    November 22, 2011 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. DH

    I am just listening to some deep house... To me, that's meditating... :)

    November 22, 2011 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. tintala

    How it MAY help your brain? Kidding? It does help! Yogis have known this for thousands of years.. if you want to know a real yogi and what meditation is really about read:

    "AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI" Paramahansa Yogananda

    November 22, 2011 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IQ

      That little tome is filled with more mumbo jumbo than the Bible. Autobiography of a liar.

      November 22, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse |
  33. IQ

    Another worthless study brought to you by worthless professors who HAVE to publish, Worthless CNN writes who HAVE to publish, and worthless forum posters who HAVE to post.....Uh, I don't have to post.......I don't, I swear.

    November 22, 2011 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. ssc

    I tried meditation few times. I don't find it helpful.

    November 22, 2011 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ram Sekhar

      Make sure you find the right teacher and give your 100% to it for some time.

      Meditation is neither difficult nor easy. In fact the very simplicity of the core is what makes it difficult to achieve. A beginner, I got stuck multiple times where only an experienced teacher could help. Even those who have meditated for 4,5 years might not be able to get you unstuck. Look for someone who has meditated for 15yrs or more.

      Loka samasthaa sukhino bhavanthu (From the Vedas, meaning – May the entire world be happy)

      November 22, 2011 at 02:31 | Report abuse |
    • Mayala Fakir

      Meditation requires patience, perseverance, devotion to fully realize the difference it makes in one's life.

      November 22, 2011 at 07:22 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Probably because the method you used doesn't suit you. For me, observing on breathing or movement of belly doesn't work at all. At one point, it becomes involuntarily action to voluntarily one, and I find that hard to observe because I'm doing it consciously. That was when I adopted another method which is to observe mind instead of body. Interesting thing I found in this method is that, through this method, I found another mind that I have no control over.It is wandering and thinks whatever it wants. I'm like an observer who is observing another person action. However it doesn't have control over my body, only my observing mind does. I met another lady in 10 days retreat a decade ago, and she shared her experience of this method. She said it is like her observing mind can translate inner signals directly before her another mind put a label on it. So, for example, she experience an anger, before she associates it with the label "anger". She feels hunger before the label "hunger" is attached. It was pretty amazing to hear.

      November 22, 2011 at 08:10 | Report abuse |
  35. SoundGuy

    There's an interesting site that uses brainwave technology to assist and deepen meditation. It's called TranscendentalTones. It argues that natural sounds have the potential to relax our bodies unconsciously. It also uses sound therapy to entrain your brainwaves to desired states of mind, which are beneficial to meditation.

    November 22, 2011 at 02:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. VidiSensiVici

    When one meditates, it is important that one sits up straight so the chi or energy can flow properly. Relax the shoulders, and keep them back as bit so one cannot slouch. Take a deep breath means deflating the chest cavity or letting air escape through the mouth as to empty it. This way more air would enter the lungs either through the nose or mouth. Or better yet, extend both arms up in the ceilings a few times, exhale while your arms are up in the air, rotate the shoulders in a big way as to open up the chest cavity and exhale, a big Hah..... If one does correctly, one would see air entering the abdominal cavity first before the chest cavity. If one does not do correctly, one would see their shoulders raise up first so air could only enter the chest cavity, then it would be a short breath. If one feels the tingling sensation radiating from head to toes, then it means that energy is moving throughout the body, It is a wonderful sensation. The key here is to activate the energy to flow first, so the mediation would be benefitial. It would make one relax, then one can enjoy the moment. One coud either talk to God, or just let God take over one's worry, be thankful, be happy, or just letting one's mind flow. It has to be a natural thing, and just enjoy it. Overtime, one would get more oxygen in each breath, and it is easier to relax. If the body temperature is hot, one needs to drink some water to hydrate the body and to cool it down, One has to let all worries set aside to do meditation because it is harder to relax if one worries, or focusing on some troubling issues which would just make the body tense. The body and mind need rest, so perhaps, the issue can wait.

    November 22, 2011 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Don't be so dogmatic.
      There are hundreds of types of meditation, even things that you wouldn't think of as meditation.

      November 22, 2011 at 08:00 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      You can meditate in any imaginable position as long as you feel comfortable and alert. Standing, walking, lying on your back doesn't matter.

      November 22, 2011 at 08:15 | Report abuse |
    • BL

      Anything can be meditation, from waiting for a plane to going to the bathroom. After a while, everything IS meditation.

      November 22, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
  37. Ram Sekhar

    Thus Spake the Great Yogi.
    To the interested,
    Swami Vivekananda was the Great Yogi who introduced Yoda and meditation to the Western world. He was the one who first explained the overarching, ever tolerant and profound principles of the Hindu religion to the 19th century USA. His first speech at Chicago is reproduced below. He was only 30 at the time of the speech and left this world at 39yrs of age.

    The World Parliament of Religions, Chicago
    WELCOME ADDRESS – Chicago, Sept 11, 1893
    Sisters and Brothers of America,
    It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

    My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”
    The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.” Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

    November 22, 2011 at 02:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. miller

    I'm a prison guard at a federal penn; I dare say it's one of the toughest jobs there is. Daily Vipassina Meditation allows me to do that job in a way that would be impossible otherwise. My co-workers and sometimes even inmates ask what my secret is. But it's no secret, all you have to do is look for yourself and keep looking. I've been through a lot of pain in my life and I'm not posting this to cause others that same type of pain by suggesting that they try something which has no value. However examining what is really going on in your own body and mind has great value. I give you my word. ...But please don't take my word for it, look and see.

    November 22, 2011 at 03:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      If we could only get the prisoners to start doing some form of meditation.

      November 22, 2011 at 08:01 | Report abuse |
  39. Michael

    Meditation website with years of guided mindfulness, loving-kindness, and insight meditations free of charge: http://www.summitdharmacenter.org

    Be well

    November 22, 2011 at 05:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. ChildrenOfTheFuture

    I had suffered from anxiety attacks in high school and my mother had me on Paxil for a week until I decided to stop taking them as I felt numb. I did not think paxil was good for my body. Later I intuitively healed myself of the anxiety attacks (that made me feel I was dying) as I began to notice my breath.

    I healed myself through concentrating on my breath at age 15.

    I am now in my 20's and have never had another panic attack.

    November 22, 2011 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Ion

    I have been studying and meditating as a Zen Buddhist for 40 years. There is a lot of misinformation here. The historical Buddha was a Hindu. And Jesus was a Jew. There are major differences between Buddhism and Hinduism and there are similarities. Buddhism is not a subset of Hinduism. There are major differences between Christianity and Judaism and there are similarities. Christianity is not a subset of Judaism. Check Wikipedia: "Buddhism and Hinduism" for some of the differences. I would recommend meditation for everyone, including all of the elected officials and world leaders.

    November 22, 2011 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. granby

    Pot accomplishes the same thing, except with the munchies.

    November 22, 2011 at 07:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ion

      Wrong. Pot numbs and clouds the mind. It is a way to avoid being present. Meditation is about being present and clear minded.

      November 22, 2011 at 07:31 | Report abuse |
    • BL

      Absolutely wrong. Completely different experiences. One is beneficial and constructive, the other harmful.

      November 22, 2011 at 08:36 | Report abuse |
  43. Joe

    Meditation is a very important part of this planet's future for every single human.
    The purpose of any form of meditation is to connect your mind with your soul.

    November 22, 2011 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. BL

    For me, meditation is a tool to experience "awareness" aside from thought. Eventually, one becomes identified more with the awareness of thought than the thoughts themselves. This is who we really are, in the realm of Being, awareness, pure consciousness. Practiced on a superficial basis, meditation may lead to the benefits described here. Practiced on a deeper level, meditation may lead to awakening.

    November 22, 2011 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oyuna

      yes, i think so. meditation helps more to develop awareness, Ive been meditated for some years, then i stopped to meditate regularly. but i keep my meditation practice in a daily life.

      December 20, 2011 at 06:53 | Report abuse |
  45. CitizenJP

    Upanisads of Hinduism say: 1) Brahman is Consciousness 2) The individual consciousness (Atman or Self) is Bramhan or Supreme Consciousness 3) Thou art Brahman or Supreme Consciousness 4) I am Brahman 5) There is nothing but Brahman or Supreme Consciousness. Meditate on That and become one with That. That is the human goal – not engagement in all these trivial pursuits of experience. The path of meditation is given the highest priority in Hinduism and is termed as the king of all yogas.

    November 22, 2011 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Sunny Murchison

    Meditation is a relaxing and healing modality for body, mind and spirit, taking practice to achieve.

    November 22, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Jane Chia

    What the writer is talking about is Samatha meditation. Samatha meditation has 40 objects of meditation in Buddhism and breath is one of them, the one that the Buddha himself used to develop right concentration. You start with just watching the breath to develop your concentration . This practice was first taught by Hindu yogis . Then, the Buddha rediscovered( this has already been discovered in previous world cycles, under other previous Buddhas)Vippassanna in the current world cycle more than 2500 years ago which can help beings out of Samsara (cycle of birth and rebirth, Buddha himself went through billions of rebirth (not reincarnation) before achieving enlightenment)and attain Nibbanna, end of suffering. Samatha meditation is a very important step to develop as a prep to Vippassanna meditation, as experienced by the Buddha himself in achieving Nibbanna. The mind is the forerunner of all our speech, thoughts and actions....and our emotions and reaction to our emotions. There is no soul but consciousness (some kind of energy from mainly mental and karmic forces) that are transferred from death to rebirth until one reaches enlightenment, Nibbanna. . Buddha teaches the Noble eightfold path to enlightenment and the realisation that all things are impermanent, that there is suffering and there is non-self(anatta).
    Metta or loving kindness meditation is also taught by the Buddha to develop great compassion to oneself and all beings.

    So, even for non Buddhists(Buddhism is just a label as everyone has the Buddha nature in them), just practising breathing as an object of meditation,can improve mental health , mindfulness in our daily speech, thought and action,right concentration which will benefit one' s life in many ways and bring peace and happiness. Metta meditation will also bring about peace, happiness and good relationships.

    November 22, 2011 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      Your right about the 40 meditations, aleister Crowley wrote about them in liber 777.

      November 23, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
  48. BarbaraC

    I think two things: [1] don't medicalize this practice . . . and then charge for it as Mindfulness does and [2] observe Buddhism . . . the practice is free and open to all. You don't need to be an expert or go to an expert to do this. AND people shouldn't wait until it's too late.

    November 22, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Ashley

    It’s so interesting to see approaches like yoga garner more respect in the scientific community now that it has been correlated with changes in brain circuitry. It was mentioned that people with ADHD have increased activity in the default network. Natural Standard database on integrative medicine currently only gives yoga a Grade C for ADHD, indicating there is not enough solid scientific data yet to confidently say it provides benefit. There has also been some positive research done in schizophrenia, another psychiatric disorder that has been correlated with overactivity in the default network. I imagine it would be particularly difficult for individuals with ADHD and schizophrenia to practice mindfulness and yoga, but it may serve as a beneficial long-term therapy and an excellent alternative or adjunct to stimulant and anti-psychotic drugs. This will be an interesting area of research to watch unravel.

    November 22, 2011 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Sharon McEachern

    Uh-Oh. You've left out significant parts of this research, which other media has included rather than delete from their reporting - like suppressing the part of the brain used for day dreaming and for our "me" thoughts.

    Every time researchers find out something new about how the brain functions, it's trumpeted as the potential answer to problems we want to eliminate. So now we want to mess with that part of the brain we use for day dreaming? Good bye reverie. So long new inventions. Forget imagining outside the box.

    For cryin' out loud! Oops, before you know it scientists will want to stop all that crying too, along with suppressing "me' thoughts. And what kind of a society would want that?
    The idea of getting rid of autism and schizophrenia is different. But, what else would be removed from that part of our brain as a result?

    I remember new research three years ago that found bullies may be hardwired for sadism, that they enjoyed inflicting pain. Surprise! The research found that there was activity in both the pain center and pleasure center:

    http://www.ethicsoup.com/2008/11/bullies-may-be-wired-in-brain-to-enjoy-others-pain.html#more

    Have you heard of anyone helping the bully problem lately using this information? What I've heard is that the problem is worse and now more and more victims of bullies are committing suicide.

    November 22, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.