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Meditation May Change Your Brain

(premasagar/Flickr)

(premasagar/Flickr)

A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School suggests that regular meditation actually alters those parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.

It’s the first study to document these kind of changes to the brain’s structure.

Guests:

  • Sara Lazar, Psychiatric Neuro-imaging Research Program, MGH
  • Raj Hooli, PHD student; study participant
  • Jim Gordon, founder and director, Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Other stories from this show:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Jemimah

    I feel like I get the benefits of meditation when I run and get into my “zone.” Do those who practice what I’d call classical meditation agree that it’s not only through sitting and meditating that this lovely state can be acheived?

  • Erin Bednarczyk

    Meditation and neurofeedback are increasingly being seen as effective long-term treatments for depression, anxiety, and (now relevant as soldiers return home) PTSD symptoms. There is plenty of data being gathered and published to support the positive changes patients are experiencing. Alternatives to pharmaceuticals will be very important to explore as the demand increases and many folks find that drugs do not help them recover or live comfortably.
    Yes, excercise is another way to alter brain chemistry in a way which therapeutic (esp for prefrontal cortex).
    Thank you, Erin (also studied Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in association w/ Brown university)

  • Don

    * So where do you go to learn meditation?
    ~ Are there any places in the suburbs?
    * How much does it cost?
    * How long do you have to study it before you can do it on your own?
    * Is there a way to tell which types are best for your personality/neurological makeup?
    ~ Is there a scientifically valid description of the different types anywhere on the Web?

  • http://boston.usa.rigpa.org Rich Snow

    @Don – there are lots of groups in the Boston area. Rigpa Boston started its new course on Wednesday, and offers open meditation each week on Mondays. These courses are in Waltham. boston.usa.rigpa.org details… Other centers that I am aware of include Shambala in Brookline, Drikung Boston in Arlington, Kurukulla in Medford.
    All the best, Rich

  • Laura Greer

    @Don. I belong to the Boston Shambhala Center – http://www.shambhalaboston.org. I’m one of the people commenting in the beginning of this piece). The center, actually in Brookline, has open house on Wednesday nights that are great for learning about meditation…there is a $5 suggested donation. There are many types of meditation most of which, in my experience, are variations in technique that cultivate similar things…mindfulness, compassion, joy, etc. The technique used at Shambhala is mindfulness based…the one you hear most about in the west. None of the techniques are all that difficult to learn but I’ve found that meditation is deceptively simple so I continuously study at the Shambhala Center to deepen my path and help me manage the ups and downs of the practice. My guess is that no one form of meditation tends to have better results based on situation. It’s more about finding the style that resonates with you and a community of practitioners that you connect with. I recommend trying different places out. That’s what I did for many years until I landed on Shambhala which feels like home to me.

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