How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby Kumara » Sun May 25, 2014 10:59 am

How your brain works during meditation
Your brain processes more thoughts and feelings during meditation than when you are simply relaxing.
By Anne Sliper Midling

Mindfulness. Zen. Acem. Meditation drumming. Chakra. Buddhist and transcendental meditation. There are countless ways of meditating, but the purpose behind them all remains basically the same: more peace, less stress, better concentration, greater self-awareness and better processing of thoughts and feelings.

But which of these techniques should a poor stressed-out wretch choose? What does the research say? Very little – at least until now.

See: http://gemini.no/en/2014/05/how-your-br ... editation/
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Re: How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun May 25, 2014 1:19 pm

Kumara wrote:How your brain works during meditation
Your brain processes more thoughts and feelings during meditation than when you are simply relaxing.
By Anne Sliper Midling

Mindfulness. Zen. Acem. Meditation drumming. Chakra. Buddhist and transcendental meditation. There are countless ways of meditating, but the purpose behind them all remains basically the same: more peace, less stress, better concentration, greater self-awareness and better processing of thoughts and feelings.

But which of these techniques should a poor stressed-out wretch choose? What does the research say? Very little – at least until now.

See: http://gemini.no/en/2014/05/how-your-br ... editation/


I wouldnt trust this. From the link above:
Fourteen people who had extensive experience with the Norwegian technique Acem meditation were tested in an MRI machine. In addition to simple resting, they undertook two different mental meditation activities, nondirective meditation and a more concentrative meditation task.


From the wiki page on acem:
Acem Meditation involves the mental repetition of a simple sound, called a meditation sound, a meaningless combination of vowels and consonants which is believed to help mind and body relax and to bring unconscious material closer to consciousness.


Anyone who has tried to switch techniques after getting used to meditating in one way knows how hard it is to drop old mental habits and get accustomed to something new. I think the article might just as well been called "People Who Usually Do One Type of Meditation Dont Do So Well On Another"

I would like to see this repeated with people who are actually adept at different meditation techniques, but the above smells of some kind of bias because of the choice of experimental subjects. Maybe its a press release from the Acem people :)
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sun May 25, 2014 1:49 pm

...more peace, less stress, better concentration, greater self-awareness and better processing of thoughts and feelings.


My understanding is that the goal is unbinding and release. :anjali:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun May 25, 2014 1:53 pm

Here is another article on meditation from the same source, the university of oslo: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 092401.htm

Sounds to me like the university of oslo is the acem PR dept.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby Mkoll » Sun May 25, 2014 5:39 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
...more peace, less stress, better concentration, greater self-awareness and better processing of thoughts and feelings.


My understanding is that the goal is unbinding and release. :anjali:


For Buddhists, yes (see below). But for secular people, the goal is usually similar to what they stated.

"In the same way, my friend, purity in terms of virtue is simply for the sake of purity in terms of mind. Purity in terms of mind is simply for the sake of purity in terms of view. Purity in terms of view is simply for the sake of purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity. Purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision is simply for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging. And it's for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging that the holy life is lived under the Blessed One."

-MN 24
Peace,
James
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Re: How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby Kumara » Mon May 26, 2014 8:28 am

m0rl0ck wrote:I wouldnt trust this. From the link above:
Fourteen people who had extensive experience with the Norwegian technique Acem meditation were tested in an MRI machine. In addition to simple resting, they undertook two different mental meditation activities, nondirective meditation and a more concentrative meditation task.


From the wiki page on acem:
Acem Meditation involves the mental repetition of a simple sound, called a meditation sound, a meaningless combination of vowels and consonants which is believed to help mind and body relax and to bring unconscious material closer to consciousness.


Anyone who has tried to switch techniques after getting used to meditating in one way knows how hard it is to drop old mental habits and get accustomed to something new. I think the article might just as well been called "People Who Usually Do One Type of Meditation Dont Do So Well On Another"

I would like to see this repeated with people who are actually adept at different meditation techniques, but the above smells of some kind of bias because of the choice of experimental subjects. Maybe its a press release from the Acem people :)

Thanks for that. So, the study showed that their usual technique is not so helpful to them! :-)
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Re: How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby Kumara » Mon May 26, 2014 8:36 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
...more peace, less stress, better concentration, greater self-awareness and better processing of thoughts and feelings.


My understanding is that the goal is unbinding and release. :anjali:

If we consider the psychotherapeutic idea of "processing of thoughts and feelings", it would mean to be able to understand and let go. Too often Buddhists are attempting "spiritual bypass".

In an interview with Sayadaw U Tejaniya, I asked him about people who try to avoid their issues and hope to get enlightened: Would that be possible?

He said, "You mean not face them?"

"Yes"

"No, I don't think so."
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Re: How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby Kumara » Tue May 27, 2014 6:12 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
...more peace, less stress, better concentration, greater self-awareness and better processing of thoughts and feelings.
My understanding is that the goal is unbinding and release. :anjali:

Indeed. And this is required:
"Stay mindful, monks, and alert....
"And how is a monk alert? There is the case where feelings are known to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Thoughts are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Perceptions are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. This is how a monk is alert.(http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html)
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Re: How Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain

Postby Kumara » Wed May 28, 2014 8:52 am

I'm struck by a similarity of term and meaning. There's an inconspicuous term in SN47.10: appaṇidhāya bhāvanā “cultivation without having directed”. It's defined thus:
Not having directed (appaṇidhāya) the mind outwardly, a bhikkhu discerns: ‘My mind is not directed outwardly.’ Then he discerns: ‘It is persistently unconstricted, liberated, undirected.’ And then he also discerns: ‘I dwell contemplating the body in the body [similarly for feelings, mind and mind-objects], ardent, properly discerning, mindful; I am happy.’
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