The Monroe Institute

Meditation Can Change Brain Structure

April 29, 2011



"It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life."

- The Harvard Gazette

used with permission of Garland Cannon

Western culture was late twigging onto the benefits of meditation but once it did, science's reductionist eye became trained on the subject with some interesting results.

Here are three articles citing one particularly significant study:

A recent study, led by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers and senior author Sara Lazar, PhD, has documented structural changes in the brain of individuals who took part in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these [cognitive and psychological] improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing,” says Lazar.

~ "Benefits of Meditation in the Brain" from SuperConsciousness.com Read more...

The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress....

M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes.

~ "How Meditation May Change the Brain" by Sindya N. Bhanoo, New York Times Read more...

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. “Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.”

"Eight weeks to a better brain" Harvard Gazette Read more...

 

And from an article published back in (I believe) the 1980s:

"One Gateway [Voyage] alumnus, the head of a Zen Buddhist Temple...believes that Gateway students can reach meditation states in a week that took him years of sitting." - The Wall Street Journal

 



Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Don’t Settle.

April 28, 2011



In 2005 Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computers, delivered the Stanford University commencement address, which has become one of the most well-loved and often heard speeches in recent decades. Each time I listen to it the big bell inside that rings when I'm in the presence of truth clangs away with joyful abandon.

Using poignant examples from his own, often very public, successes and challenges, Steve encourages that audience of fledgling graduates as well as everyone since -- to Live until we die.

Below is a video of that short commencement speech. If you haven't heard it, or even if you have, I invite you to play it, and feel the message vibrate through your Being.

Here's an excerpt:

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. ~ Steve Jobs



The Lost Photos…

April 27, 2011



Check out this collection of awesome "lost" photos of the Beatles, including this one:

Why is she talking about the Beatles on a blog about consciousness exploration, you're wondering? The short answer is that I just like the Beatles. The longer answer is that I very much feel that these little living blips in history have everything to do with our collective consciousness. At this exact moment in 1911, the first recordings of a human voice had only been around for about 11 years, and largely they were in Germany and available only to the elite upper class, and then only if you were sitting in front of the machine that had captured the voice. As someone not in the elite part of society, this would mean that the only music that I knew of my parent's generation would be the songs that they or their contemporaries would sing for me. If there was music that my parents just didn't care for or didn't sing especially well, it more than likely would not be readily available to me.

Fast forward a mere 51 years from that point in 1911 and the Beatles were causing heartbreak and fainting spells over most of the developed world as their first single circulated on a vinyl record. Fast forward another 49 years from that point and indeed we land here in 2011, looking at pictures of the Beatles, their music now more readily available to the world than it ever was when they were a band, ripe for the picking by any future generations that might like to stumble on them, emulate them, understand them, and move on from them.

While some might rightfully lament the loss of the oratory tradition around the world, and if you're like my husband, you still want to listen to your tunes on vinyl, the leaps and bounds that have been made in capturing the history of our world and sharing that knowledge can't be overlooked or underestimated. The very fact that you are reading this post right now, this post that is being written in Virginia and readily read anywhere around the world on any number of devices, says quite a bit about what humans are striving for not just in our collective consciousness, but in out connected consciousness. By our very nature, we are community weavers, connection makers, village builders. In the 21st century, all that work looks shockingly different than it did at this point 100 years ago, but at its core, I think we're still hammering away at the same end result of connecting with one another.

And also? Now my son, not quite 2 years old, is going to grow up listening to me talk about Billie Holiday and the Beatles and Janis Joplin like it was "my" music from "my generation" when in fact I was still twinkling in my mother's adolescent eye when those sounds were freshly hitting the airwaves (well, not Billie...sorry Mom!) and should he fall in love with that music, his children might think of it one day as being "his" from "his generation". Nothing has to be lost anymore, and as so many physicists have been promising us, the very notion of the "past" is becoming more and more obscure.

Does this growing connected consciousness overwhelm you? Excite you? Disgust you? Some combination of all three? Tell us!



A thought for Tuesday…

April 26, 2011



Something that we say quite a bit around The Monroe Institute, goes to the tune of, "everything is right on schedule"...so when I saw this quote, I knew that I had to share it with you! If you had that moment today, that moment of wishing or what if-ing, or thinking that you should be anywhere but here, maybe this will serve as a little electronic hug and a reminder that you are right where you're supposed to be and that silver linings are very real. We also talk a lot about journeys in these parts (as you can imagine) and I just love the affirmation that our journey has molded us for the greater good. We can always get behind the greater good!

Happy Tuesday!



Earth Day Pictures: 20 Stunning Shots of Earth From Space

April 23, 2011



Gullies slithering through sandbanks are seen in the Wadden Sea, near the Netherlands, in a 2006 satellite image.

National Geographic, in honor of Earth Day, posted these not-to-be-missed photos of our heart-stoppingly beautiful and varied home planet.

Thank you, Earth!

And thank you, NatGeo.



Teleportation of DNA Molecules

April 22, 2011



Teleportation on the big screen in 1979's 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture.'

Beam Me Up, Scottie!

Teleportation, "the idea of the transfer of matter from one point to another, more or less instantaneously,..." (Wikipedia) has been a twinkle in the eye of humanity for, well, -ever.

As always, the leap from imagination to implementation is huge, but dogged nevertheless, and strides are being made. Here are just a few of the most recent.

In January, 2009, Science News published, "Scientists Teleport Matter More Than Three Feet" Excerpted from that article:

Scientists have come a bit closer to achieving the "Star Trek" feat of teleportation.

No one is galaxy-hopping, or even beaming people around, but for the first time, information has been teleported between two separate atoms across a distance of a meter — about a yard.

This is a significant milestone in a field known as quantum information processing, said Christopher Monroe of the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland, who led the effort.

Then in December of 2010 we see this on MassiveLinks: "China Close to Achieving Advanced Teleportation Technology," by Guy Verona:

... Hopefully one day I’ll get to talk about the latest in personal teleportation devices, but sadly that day is not yet in sight.

Real teleportation devices as they exist today, don’t have the ability to mystically transport objects from one location to the other. Instead quantum teleportation is a technique that is used to transfer quantum information between two quantum systems...

So what does that actually mean? Well in practical terms quantum teleportation can either be used to run quantum computations or as a form of highly secure long range communication...

In May, Nature reported that China had achieved successful quantum teleportation over a distance of 16KM without the use of cables. A move which indicates that China is close to being able to use quantum teleportation as a means of transferring data globally through the use of satellites...

Now, in the Spring 2011 issue of SuperConsciousness.com we see what may be a startling advancement:

Many physicists are perplexed after a publication by Luc Montagnier, a Nobel Prize winning biologist, and his team of scientists cited details of an experiment where a fragment of DNA appeared to teleport itself between test tubes. In the experiment, Montagnier placed two test tubes in a weak electromagnetic field of 7Hz; one of the test tubes contained a small piece of bacterial DNA, the other held pure water. Eighteen hours later, after DNA amplification using a polymerase chain reaction, the DNA was detected in its neighboring test tube containing the pure water. When Montagnier tried the test with different controls: reducing the time limit, putting water in both test tubes, eliminating the electromagnetic field, or lowering its frequency, no teleportation occurred. What is most puzzling about the results is not the actual imprint of the DNA on the water, but rather the time it took to manifest itself. Normally quantum phenomena occur within fractions of a second, and usually at temperatures closer to absolute zero—not room temperature. Along with new suggestions regarding the quantum nature of reality, the test might also suggest that life depends on the projection of quantum phenomena in ways we have yet to understand. Before Montagnier’s test results will be readily accepted in the physics society however, it will have to be duplicated by other scientists...

Hang onto your particles! We'll keep you posted.



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