Improve Brain Function Through Meditation
A practice like meditation, even in a completely secular context, can be a very powerful tool for improving brain performance.
If you wish to be able to hit like the pros at the Australian Open, what steps should you take to improve your tennis game? The first step would be to play tennis. Practice. You would also want to practice more general strength and conditioning, such as running or lifting weights.
But let's say you wanted to become a better basketball player. You wouldn't play tennis. You would practice your jump shot, not your serve. However, you would also want to follow a similar strength and conditioning routine.
The same thing goes for mental exercise. Practicing crossword puzzles won't make you a better chess player. But if you do meditation practices, "it might make you better either at doing crossword puzzles or being a good chess player or maybe even being a better athlete."
So says neurotheology pioneer Dr. Andrew Newberg in a lesson on Big Think Edge, the only forum on YouTube designed to help you get the skills you need to be successful in a rapidly changing world. Newberg uses fMRI and other neuroscientific tools to study religious experiences in the brain. In today's lesson, he discusses how meditation can improve brain function, in both the religious and the secular context, as well as the work context.
"If you're at your desk and you feel like the world is just flying around you and you need to take a moment," he says, "you can literally just sit there at your desk, put everything down. You can close your eyes and hopefully you can close your door or block out your ears and just concentrate on your breath."
After following a meditation exercise that Newberg recommends, "you will feel that little bit of rejuvenation," he says. This may not make you the next tennis or chess champion, but "you'll feel a little bit better focused, and you'll be able to go back to concentrating a little bit better on whatever the next task is at hand."
Sign up for a free trial subscription on Big Think Edge and watch Newberg's lesson here:
How to meditate at your desk:
-Put everything down.
-Close your eyes for about a minute or so and just concentrate on your breath. Just feel your breathing in. Take a deep breath in. Hold it for a moment. Let the breath go out. And as you do that, just concentrate on that breath coming in and the breath coming out.
-If you want to, you can actually focus a little bit on some of the areas of your body, especially if you have some discomfort or stress you're feeling, maybe a headache or something like that, you can concentrate on that a little bit.
-Let yourself feel it, and then each time you feel it then just go back to the breath, breathing in and breathing out, and if you do that for 60 seconds, maybe 2 minutes, then you can open your eyes back up and return back to your work.
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