Eduard who wrote a guest blog last month about the increased research in yoga's benefits and his own personal experience handed me a Scientific Journal.
The article is about the neuroscience of meditation. It was a fascinating read.
It seems the Dalai Lama kicked off research in this area by starting the Mind & Life institute. Despite some scientists initially petitioning not to have him talk at their Society for Neuroscience (C'mon what about discovery!!) research has really snowballed. More research to do of course but so interesting.
In Buddhism there are 3 types of meditation. Focused attention, mindfulness and compassion. Each one was studied and each showed significant changes between the meditators brains and the normal group.
Focussed attention such as focusing on your breath is something we do in yoga quota during Savasana. This improved people's resilience to distractions. Sounds good for revision and work!
Mindfulness is when you let thoughts and emotions run free and just observe and note them. This made people less bothered by pain, 'increased ones ability to better control and buffer basic psysiological responses- inflammation or levels of a stress hormone'. Another study even found more telemerase in meditators brains which slows afind. This sounds great for dealing with life in general- it's not about not feeling it's just getting in control of the feelings. Sounds good for chronic pain sufferers too.
The third form was focussing on living kindness. Distinct from pure empathy- an analogy of a mother comforting her child who is ill rather than feeling the pain and being unable to help was an analogy that helped me see the difference. This is all about getting you to help everyone around you. All good then.
My long and luscious classes are there from popular demand within the Yoga Quota students and we are going to do more meditation than Savasana at the end of them. Maybe this should be on the readin list for them!!
If you want to read this article directly, go to www.scientificamerican.com November 2014 edition. Or read the books below!