-:BENEFITS:-

Archive for ‘spiritual benefits’

Cultivate Selflessness

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

meditation-image-6According to a study conducted at the University of Missouri, practicing meditation can help cultivate selflessness. Neuropsychologists found that meditation helps people achieve spiritual transcendence, which is associated with acts of selflessness and helping others. Practicing meditation helps decrease activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain, a cerebral region connected to experiences of spiritual transcendence and selflessness. Religious practices such as prayer were found to have the same selflessness-causing effects as meditation. Researchers claim that regardless of culture or religion, anyone can practice meditation to achieve a transcendental state; they will all experience the same neurobiological processes that promote selflessness.

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Makes People Nonjudgmental

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

meditation-image-7In a study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, meditation was found to make people less judgmental. In the study, participants took part in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program where they practiced mindfulness meditation over the course of eight weeks. At the end of the program, participants’ MRI brain images showed changes in certain parts of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection, causing the participants to become less judgmental of their own feelings and perceptions. Mindfulness meditation concentrates on self-awareness, or nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings, and one’s emotional state of mind. Participants displayed improvements in all of these areas, suggesting that meditation can help people learn to be less judgmental.

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Encourages Kindness

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

meditation-image-8According to neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, meditation helps to encourage kindness. Meditation trains individuals to foster a positive emotional state and cultivate positive responses like benevolence. Compassion meditation constitutes visualizing someone the individual cares about, then capturing those feelings of love and kindness, and extending them towards others, regardless whether one likes them or not. When exposed to stimuli like a woman’s screams or a baby’s laughs, participants in the study who practiced compassion meditation displayed increased activity in certain regions of the brain associated with understanding others’ emotions. The researchers concluded that regularly practicing compassion meditation could train people to take kindness felt towards loved ones and direct it towards anyone.

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Fosters Compassion Towards Others

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

meditation-image-9Researchers from Emory University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences found that certain meditation practices foster compassion. Meditation practices that were designed to cultivate compassion were found to affect the physiological pathways in the brain associated with controlling stress. A compassion meditation program was developed based on an ancient Tibetan Buddhist mind-training technique. The program focused on individuals’ thoughts and emotions toward other people and concentrated on developing those emotions into altruistic and compassionate feelings. Participants who practiced compassion meditation displayed reductions in stress responses, which researchers suggest will help with stress management, and ultimately foster feelings of compassion towards others.

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Promotes Self-Awareness

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

meditation-image-10According to an article from Scientific American, meditation helps to promote self-awareness. Both hemispheres of the brain are associated with self-recognition and self-awareness, which help improve sensations of emotional and bodily perception. Practicing meditation promotes conceptual and bodily self-awareness by activating certain regions of the brain. Meditating also helps break down any boundaries between the physical and the emotional, allowing the individual to become more aware of his or her internal thoughts and feelings without disruption. Self-awareness thus improves the ability to think and perceive in the present moment, enhancing the overall conscious experience, as well as the physical sensation of orgasm and sexual pleasure.

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Increased Compassion towards Others

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-24The mind, body and spirit are all interconnected, and a compassionate attitude is an integral part of this connection. A study published in the journal Emotion indicated that practitioners of loving-kindness meditation have an increased positive connection towards others, allowing meditators to be more grateful and selfless in their everyday interactions. Researchers explain that this form of meditation trains the mind to focus on compassion and positive thoughts towards others, strengthening individuals’ sense of social connectedness in the world. Other well-being benefits of meditation include better concentration, which means a better connection to the world, better sleep, which leads to a more promising waking life, and a longer life coupled with meaningful connections with others.

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Greater Spiritual Empathy

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-25Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison found that those who meditate have higher levels of activity in the region of the brain known as the insula, which controls feelings of empathy and emotional understanding. Being kind to each other is now thought to be a learned technique triggered by the brain’s reaction in areas responsible for compassion towards the emotions of others. The study suggests that meditation can train the brain to enhance an individual’s capacity for empathy. The more one meditates, the more one becomes inclined to have feelings of open kindness towards strangers. In an often disconnected modern world, the study suggests, the power of empathy can be a driving force for interpersonal connection and individual spiritual growth.

 

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Cultivating Kindness

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-26Antoine Lutz and Richard Davidson conducted a study at the Waisman Center for Brain Imaging that found that compassionate meditation has the potential to cultivate spirituality through kindness and benevolence in individuals. The study involved 16 master meditators and 16 novices who were exposed to sounds of emotional distress, including a child crying. Researchers documented higher activity in the brain areas associated with benevolence among the experienced meditators, while the novices demonstrated much lower activity in those areas. Those trained in this form of meditation are able to extend the feelings of love and compassion that they have for family members towards strangers, cultivating their capacity for spiritual kindness towards all. Lutz and Davidson foresee the wide-reaching benefits of the study, proposing that compassionate meditation could possibly be used to combat depression.

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Greater Levels of Spirituality and Transcendence

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-27Brick Johnstone of the MU School of Health Professionals has suggested a link between transcendental or spiritual experiences and decreased activity levels in a certain area of the brain, which can be achieved through meditation. This new finding indicates a stronger connection between achieving a selfless state and conditioning the brain to maintain lower levels of activity. The study focused on the increased level of spiritual experiences among people with brain injuries, but found that a conscious effort to train the brain through meditation or prayer had similar spiritual effects. Meditation is thus a primary avenue to achieve a connection with things beyond the self, Johnstone notes.

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A More Open-Minded Nature

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-77A study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech’s Human Neuroimaging Laboratory suggests that mindful meditation allows one to accept a situation more readily. Research documented Buddhist meditators’ ability to eschew negative thought patterns associated with an unfair offer. The study scanned the brains of 26 Buddhist meditators and a control group of 40 other individuals during the “Ultimatum Game,” which involved two subjects in determining how to divide a sum of money. In short, meditative brains show less activity in the regions that are associated with the future and purely emotional reactions, while generating increased activity in the areas concerned with the present moment and rational thinking, meaning that they see the intrinsic value of accepting an offer in the present, no matter how minimal it may seem.

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