Meditation: ten minutes a day causes changes in the ability to switch between states of consciousness

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Meditating for just ten minutes each day can result in marked changes in both your ability to switch between general states of consciousness and overall focus.

Evidence of these changes appeared in brain scans of ten students after just eight weeks of practice, experts at Binghamton University have found.

Of particular interest is the finding that meditation can improve connections within the brain’s “dorsal attention network”, the team said.

The problems of this network – which is engaged when we focus on specific tasks – have previously been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and autism.

Meditating for just ten minutes each day can cause marked changes in the ability to switch between states of consciousness – increasing your focus (stock image)

Evidence of these changes appeared in brain scans of ten students after just eight weeks of practice, experts at Binghamton University have found.  Pictured: Heat maps showing increased functional connectivity follow regular meditation in the posterior cingulate cortex (a), right middle temporal (b), right superior parietal lobule (c, d), and superior parietal lobule regions left (e, f)

Evidence of these changes appeared in brain scans of ten students after just eight weeks of practice, experts at Binghamton University have found. Pictured: Heat maps showing increased functional connectivity follow regular meditation in the posterior cingulate cortex (a), right middle temporal (b), right superior parietal lobule (c, d), and superior parietal lobule regions left (e, f)

Easy three-minute meditation exercise

Try this meditation technique suggested by Marina Grazier, co-founder of The Mindfulness Exchange. Make sure you are comfortable and in a quiet space, set a timer for three minutes. It will pass faster than you think.

Sit in an upright chair and close your eyes. Tune into your breathing and ask yourself, “What am I thinking about?” What feelings do I notice? What bodily sensations do I detect (for example, a stiff neck)? »Don’t try to change anything; just recognize those sensations and then let them go.

Focus on how it feels to breathe and how your abdomen expands when you breathe in and falls when you breathe out. Now focus on your whole body slowly moving your fingers and toes, again noting the movements you make.

Open your eyes – take a few moments to readjust to your surroundings and continue your day feeling refreshed

The study is the result of a conversation between computer ethicist George Weinschenk and neuroimaging expert Weiying Dai, who occupy neighboring offices in the computer science department at Binghamton University in New York.

Dr Weinschenk is a long-time mediation practitioner, having studied at Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York, who has ties to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the mainstream school of Tibetan Buddhism.

“I have developed very close friendships with several monks. I even received instructions from some of the Dalai Lama’s teachers, ”Dr Weinschenk told The Times.

“I took classes there, read a lot and got a three-year certificate in Buddhist studies.

When Dr Weinschenk told Professor Dai about the new meditation class he was leading, she was curious to see if the claimed benefits could be quantifiable.

‘I told Weiying [that] “Meditation can really have a transformative effect on the brain,” said Dr. Weinschenk.

“She was a little skeptical, especially as to whether such a short amount of time spent learning to meditate […] would make any difference.

For their study, Dr. Weinschenk recruited ten students who enrolled in his class and, after teaching them to meditate, had them practice for 10 to 15 minutes five times a week.

Professor Dai, meanwhile, performed MRI scans of students’ brain patterns before class and then again eight weeks later.

One of the researchers, Dr Weinschenk, is a long-time practitioner of mediation, having studied at Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York (pictured) ¿who has ties to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the dominant school of Tibetan Buddhism.

One of the researchers, Dr Weinschenk, is a long-time practitioner of mediation, having studied at Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York (pictured) – who has ties to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the dominant school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The comparison of the scans revealed that after learning and practicing meditation, the students acquired more connections both between and among two networks in the brain – the “default mode network” and the “attention network. dorsal “.

The former is used when the brain is awake but not particularly focused, such as when dreaming. The latter, on the other hand, engages when the brain focuses on demanding tasks.

According to the researchers, the increased brain connectivity increases both students’ abilities to switch between default mode and focus, as well as to focus more clearly once the attention network is engaged.

“Tibetans have a term for this ease of switching between states,” said Dr Weinschenk.

“They call it mental flexibility, an ability that allows you to shape and mold your mind.

“They also see the goal of concentration as one of the fundamental principles of self-growth,” he explained.

Dorsal attention network problems have been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and autism, according to Professor Dai.

“I am thinking of a study on the elderly, because this population was made up of young students,” she explained of her future research projects.

“I am quite convinced of the scientific basis of meditation after doing this study. “

The full results of the study were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

WHAT IS ALZHEIMER?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, in which the accumulation of abnormal proteins causes the death of nerve cells.

This disrupts the transmitters that carry the messages and causes the brain to shrink.

More than 5 million people have the disease in the United States, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than one million Britons are affected.

WHAT HAPPENS?

As brain cells die, the functions they perform are lost.

This includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.

The progression of the disease is slow and gradual.

On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some can live ten to 15 years.

FIRST SYMPTMS:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Behavior changes
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty handling money or making a phone call

SUBSEQUENT SYMPTMS:

  • Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, familiar objects or places
  • Becoming anxious and frustrated with the inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior
  • Finally lose the ability to walk
  • May have problems eating
  • The majority will eventually need 24-hour care

Source: Alzheimer Association


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