Scientists Still Seeking Answers to Questions About Meditation
How does meditation do the job many pay thousands for therapists to do? It is the question researchers and scientists are still trying to find the answer to; however, one study helps to shed some light on the subject.
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
What’s the Latest Development?
Meditation works to relax the mind, body and soul, but scientists have been racking their brains as to why it works for people. Through a series of tests to measure the brain, body and behavior of 60 people during meditation, researchers recorded various factors that played a part in the mind’s ability to react a certain way to certain situations. However, there is still no clear cut sign as to what it is exactly about meditation that makes it all come together for people. One man shared his story of how meditation has helped him after a night of drinking landed him in the hospital due to hyperventilation—and how later on he began to feel depressed. He stated that for the first time in years he felt relaxed overall after meditating for at least 30 minutes. “One of the most ambitious studies of the psychological, physical, and behavioral effects of meditation ever undertaken is The Shamatha Project, a multi-million dollar effort led by neuroscientist Clifford Saron of the University of California, Davis—the project asked: “What do people do differently because they have meditated? There were also more specific questions. Can attention be trained through contemplative practice? Are improvements in attention related to psychological function? What are the behavioral, neural, and physiological correlates of such training?"
What’s the Big Idea?
Researchers studied the mind, body and behavior activity of individuals in a retreat setting, “the experiment offers powerful evidence that a regular meditation practice can sharpen our perception, promote a greater sense of well-being, and encourage a more empathic response to others.” For the man who continues to use meditation to maintain his overall well being and others who have turned to this spiritual medicine—meditation works for those that have experienced the effects of meditation as it pertains to them.
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The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.
- The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
- Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
- The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
What defines a dark horse? The all-important decision to pursue fulfillment and excellence.
When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.
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