Different Types of Meditation Affect the Brain Differently

Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain

A new study has found that participating in an 8-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating.

…“This is the first time that meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state.”

On the effects of types of meditation:

In the mindful attention group, the after-training brain scans showed a decrease in activation in the right amygdala in response to all images, supporting the hypothesis that meditation can improve emotional stability and response to stress. In the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity also decreased in response to positive or neutral images. But among those who reported practicing compassion meditation most frequently outside of the training sessions, right amygdala activity tended to increase in response to negative images – all of which depicted some form of human suffering. No significant changes were seen in the control group or in the left amygdala of any study participants.

Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state

Healthy adults with no prior meditation experience took part in 8 weeks of either Mindful Attention Training (MAT), Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT; a program based on Tibetan Buddhist compassion meditation practices), or an active control intervention.

Does anyone know anything about these meditation techniques? How exactly does one practice them?

Seen on memory-key.com.

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Meditation

You may be surprised to find meditation among brain training techniques. In fact, meditation has been shown to improve some specific cognitive functions, for example attention. That’s why it can be considered as a brain training method. It can help to train the brain through focusing on certain thoughts or mantras. There a lot of different styles of meditation: concentration meditation, mantra, mindfulness meditation, body relaxation, breathing practice, mental imagery.

Meditation is only awareness. It is difficult because it is so easy. There isn’t anything to grab onto if we practice open awareness, so it’s easier for beginners to focus a specific thing. There are a million different kinds of meditation because there are a million different things to focus on. Whatever you focus on, just be aware of that thing’s existence. For example, the breath. Just pay attention to what your lungs are doing, how it feels, what it sounds like, just be aware. When your mind starts to drift to other things, bring it back. If someone distracts you to where you begin getting frustrated, let yourself focus on the feeling of frustration or the thing that is distracting you. “Yep, that exists. That IS a thing. Yup.” Don’t SUPPRESS your thoughts, trying to feel or think nothing, but instead let your mind think whatever it wants to. As you practice this awareness of whatever you choose, you may want to reflect on the fact that all the thoughts you see are suggestions. You are not your body, and you are not your mind. Everything being fed to you is a suggestion. It’s your choice whether you pursue something or dwell on it.
It’s a balance. To be focused enough to be aware of something, but not so much that everything is rigid and exhausting and unjoyable. To be relaxed enough to go with the flow, but not so much that you begin to fall asleep or whathaveyou. Balance.
Mindfulness, meditation, being in the zone, focus- it’s all just, AWARENESS. Literally just acknowledging something exists. The longer you can do this for without your mind drifting, the better you can focus on something and the stronger your mind is. You’ll be able to be more and more present in the moment you’re in. Able to utilize your senses to a fuller extent. Collecting much higher quality recordings of your surroundings(memories).

It is not nearly as important WHAT you focus on as the FREQUENCY you focus on it. Actively focusing your awareness multiple times throughout the day in 2 second intervals would be preferable to a 20 minute straight spine sit down session. Especially if it makes it a habit, do it.

The ultimate goal is decrease the amount of time between “Oops! Mind’s drifting.” realizations, until eventually it’s 0 and you’re just able to focus fully on whatever you want for as long as you want.

@Josh

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@Josh
One of my favorite things, pertaining to thoughts and emotions, is the idea of a river. If you can see the river, you’re not being carried/controlled by it, whereas if you’re in the river, you don’t realize it because all you see is water, even though you can feel yourself being pulled by the current. Often times, if you bring attention to something, it goes away(of course if it doesn’t go away, that’s fine, just acknowledge that too). For example, if you’re angry, you’re slamming things you’re yelling, you feel like Eminem- if you recognize the fact that you’re angry, then literally focus on the sensation of the anger and turn your attention to the reason you’re angry- literally just by acknowledging your state of mind, you’ve all of a sudden regained full control. It’s crazy.

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Like anything, you will get better with time. If something is upsetting you, don’t avoid thinking about it, but instead turn your full awareness on it. Don’t poke and prod it necessarily, but be aware of it. Kind of, hugging the emotion, without speaking to it. If the thought is a person, just high five it as it walks by, no conversation. If it stops and lingers, hug it, saying nothing. Hold it and be kind to it. It’ll be ready to leave eventually. Just by acknowledging it you’re giving yourself the power.

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