Many people now know that science investigates meditation practices. The Dalai Lama has worked closely with Dr. Richie Davidson of the University of Wisconsin in convincing long time meditation practitioners and Tibetan monks to participate in Dr. Davidson’s research. Some monks have even left their caves to help the scientific investigations. This work has been reported in the proceedings of the Mind and Life conferences held by His Holiness with members of the scientific community.
The purpose of the Mind and Life Institute is to help us create and maintain a healthy mind.
Other avenues of research are being explored by qualified researchers.
Science Investigates Meditation Practices
Some of the strands of research have been summarized on the Neurowiki 2012 Wiki. Much of it is highly technical, but nonetheless, it makes for a good read. The article discusses how meditation practices affect various parts of the brain. Dr. Davidson’s research is cited herein.
Today meditation is also beginning to be widely used in medical settings to treat a range of physical and mental disorders such as chronic stress. Since meditation affects many different aspects of the brain and body it is extremely difficult to pinpoint a precise mechanism by which it operates however, with recent advancements in neuroimaging techniques, there is now a better idea of how meditation might operate on a neurobiological level.
Research in the field of meditation has been known for small sample sizes, absence of proper control conditions, and an overall lack of experimental rigor however that has been changing in recent years due to theoretical and methodological advancements in the field.
Read more here.
One of the primary tools of how science investigates meditation practices is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). FMRI is an imaging technique which measures brain activity by monitoring how it causes changes in blood flow.
Brain scans help researches determine what areas of the brain are affected by meditation practices. These can be combined with other techniques to monitor physiological variables like EEG, positron emission topography, galvanic skin response and near infrared spectroscopy. New methods are being tried every day.
How Does Your Brain Respond to Mediation Practices?
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