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Meditation synchronizes the brain

Tags: stress, antiaging

Most people are left-brain dominant, according to neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor of the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute and spokesperson for the Harvard Tissue Resource Center (Brain Bank).

We are more attuned to the logical, sequential, math and language-oriented left brain way of perceiving and managing life;

and we are less attuned to the intuitive, kinesthetic right brain. Dr. Taylor suggests that integrating the brain - using more of the right hemisphere in our daily lives - leads to greater awareness, more insights and creative ways to solve problems, and greater inner peace and happiness.

A great deal of research has found that activity in the left prefrontal cortex increases dramatically during meditation. However, that increase isn’t the only benefit. Meditation often elicits a feeling of unity with the universe and a loss of ‘self’ - typical of an activated right hemisphere.

In fact, normal brain activity is a mixed bag of brainwaves. Brainwaves of the left hemisphere are not in sync with those of the right hemisphere (the brainwaves are independent); however, during meditation the brainwaves of the entire brain synchronize.

Some scientists - Dr. Taylor among them - believe that this synchronicity means use of the entire brain. One can assimilate and process large amounts of information, speed up that assimilation and processing, and enhance creativity through “whole-brain” thinking.

Meditation is a focused activity where the brainwaves in the right and left hemispheres synchronize - literally, harmonize - with each other. This may be the foundation for the feeling of well-being that is brought about by meditation; a feeling of harmony rather than dissonance.

During meditation, brainwaves slow considerably. As we get deeper into a meditative, relaxed state, we go from our normal ‘beta’ mode of conscious control, logical thought and analysis - dominantly left-brain... to the alpha state (the most common during meditation) where the mind and body are relaxed, but still alert. This is the optimal brainwave pattern for inspiration and learning; here, the right hemisphere (or ‘brain’) becomes more active.

Very deep meditation elicits the theta brainwave pattern of highly active imagination (it is no coincidence that 2-5 year old children spend most of their time in the theta pattern!). Imagination is considered primarily a right-brain activity. Meditators sometimes go even deeper and reach the delta phase of very deep, dreamless sleep and relaxation (this is the optimal brainwave pattern for healing and rejuvenation of the body and brain).

Dr. Taylor suffered a left-hemisphere stroke when she was 37 years old. She chronicled her amazing experiences of becoming a “right-brain being” in her book, “A Stroke of Insight.” She also talks about her rehabilitation and her return to using more of her left brain - but also a deliberate choice to use both hemispheres equally, to remain balanced and ‘centered’ and not fall back into her old habitual left-brain behaviors and way of thinking.

A daily meditation practice will increase your whole-brain thinking, balance your thinking, and open up a world of new experiences and possibilities as you engage your right hemisphere more and more!

 

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