By Arshdeep Sarao
"This study contributes to a growing body of evidence from scientific studies that the practice of meditation affects the body and brain in measurable ways," said Dr. Gaëlle Desbordes, Massachusetts General Hospital, to The Epoch Times via email. To study the effects of meditation, adult participants were trained for eight weeks in compassionate meditation or mindfulness meditation (to develop awareness of breathing, thinking, and emotions). A third control group received health education.
Three weeks before and after training, the brains of the participants were scanned while observing a series of images with different emotional content.
The mindful meditation group showed a reduction in the activation of the brain amygdala to all emotional stimuli. This suggests that mindfulness meditation training reduced emotional reactivity, which is consistent with the general hypothesis that meditation practice reduces perceived stress and improves emotional stability, ”Desbordes told The Epoch Times.
In the compassionate meditation group, positive emotional content led to similar brain scan results, but participants who meditated more reported increased activity in the amygdala in response to images of people in various distress situations.
"We believe that these two forms of meditation cultivate different aspects of the mind," Desbordes said in a press release. "Since compassionate meditation is designed to increase feelings of compassion, it makes sense that it can increase the response of the amygdala to seeing people suffering."
"Increased amygdala activity was also correlated with decreasing depression scores in the compassionate meditation group, suggesting that the more compassion you have for others may also be beneficial for yourself," she added. observed no effect in the third control group. "Overall, these results are consistent with the general hypothesis that meditation can cause lasting and beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing," she said in the release.
The researchers concluded that meditation impacts the emotional process during daily life, not just during the practice of it, and that it can result in the development of certain positive habits in the long term.
The Epoch Times