Meditation not only calms, but changes the mind, to be more joy-centered
What with the bills, political discussions that turn personal, bullies and parking tickets, Americans can easily become stressed these days. But if they look east and take a cue from Tibetan monks, they may discover a realm of inner joy. That's according to researcher Richard Davidson in an interesting interview about the positive effects of meditation on the brain. Using brain scans, Davidson tells CNN that meditation is akin to weight lifting for the neural system; that meditation sparks more action in parts of the brain associated with positive emotions, such as loving and empathy, as well as concentration.
Davidson, who has meditated since visiting India while a Harvard student in the 1970s, said his findings aren't about religion or his own experiences. Rather, they show that even novices can stimulate their limbic systems by using techniques like the ancient Tibetan Buddhist compassion meditation practice. Moreover, experts with more than 10,000 hours of practice -- the monks -- seem to have permanently changed their brain structures to be more empathetic, something worth considering in the next traffic jam.
Image: A very happy Tibetan Buddhist monk in Tharlam Monastery, Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal/Flickr