The Meditative Brain

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Filtering by Tag: mindfulness

Evidence for mindfulness treatment for individuals experiencing psychosis

You will often see literature that advises against meditation for individuals who have issues with psychosis/mental instability. Honestly, it made sense to me; things can get very weird while meditating. Why add to mental phenomena that you're unfamiliar with when you're just struggling to cope? However, this article, titled, "Mindfulness groups for distressing voices and paranoia: a replication and randomized feasibility trial" shows that our assumptions could be wrong.

Creative Commons - Shaheen Lakhan

Patients that were diagnosed with "psychotic experiences" were randomized into 2 groups; Those groups being (essentially) no-treatment vs. mindfulness training group (for 5 weeks). Patients who were in the mindfulness training group revealed a "...statistically significant improvement in mindfulness of distressing thoughts and images" (but not voices). The authors go on to state that "contemporary mindfulness-based interventions are safe and therapeutic for people with distressing psychosis"

Mindfulness therapy seems to march on, helping to conquer more and more illnesses. Apparently, even illnesses we thought it would aggravate! What can't it do! Here's a link to the abstract or for those who have access to the article:

Running with Mindfulness

I was once a very active person. Entering my 20s and early 30s, this activeness slowly gave way to other interests and obligations. Through all my life however, I've always had a love/hate relationship with running. I'll try to run about 3-4 times a week, but due to laziness and busyness, I usually only get around to it about 2 times per week. I imagine this is a common thread for many. My love of running came from the sense of accomplishment and greater fitness at the days end. The hate aspect, came from the running itself. Those first 5 minutes of running are generally the most painful for me. Soreness, malaise and self-pity are usually at their peak, dwindling off at around 10 minutes, these feelings return at around 20 minutes into the run - I may realize how difficult  it is to run up a hill. I find I am breathing hard and may decide to turn back, due to self-pity and my minor sense of accomplishment. My internal monologue usually proceeds as such, "Why don't I just walk right now? Its much easier! Go ahead, catch your breath...You've done enough for today...Hey! Poor baby!...Common push! But my legs! So tired! Aaaaandddd....I'm done.". As I've been trying to incorporate mindfulness into my everyday life, one day I thought to incorporate this mind-state into my run. What success! I found all my self-pity, malaise, soreness and sense of accomplishment faded out completely, leaving me only with my sense of breathing, and my feet on the ground. Even the sense of accomplishment is gone, not giving me the chance to think that I had completed enough for the day. My breath volume also decreases dramatically when I'm at my most mindful and thus diminishes my need for self-pity. A positive feed-back loop for running! How fantastic! Avoiding obstacles or people usually bring me back into a thought-filled state, but quick attention back to my breath usually dispels any negative thoughts. I often feel like I literally run all day.

Well I'm not the first to try this idea out. It turns out the running world has known how great mindfulness is for a while now. Here's a more recent post in Runner's World, that may be helpful to some. I also found some guided running meditation exercises that some may enjoy at Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's site,

You may also enjoy this video, where Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, describes his interpretation of body/mind as it relates to running. I hope this post ends up motivating a few of you to get off the internet and put your shoes on...

Alpha brain waves correlate with sensory focus = Meditation + Secondary Benefits

This is very interesting. For years, meditation researchers have noted that meditators produce different (often slower) types of brain waves when they meditate compared to "regular" awake states. But we haven't really come up with any great reason how or why these two things correlate.


Typically, when a person closes their eyes, they immediately produce a spike in alpha brain waves (8-12 Hz). The beginnings of meditation also show an increase in these brain wave frequencies. When they open their eyes, their brain waves speed up to produce beta wave states (13-38 Hz). Experienced meditators show greater quantities of even slower brain waves. Theta waves, (4-7 Hz) are found in greater quantities in experienced meditators and in sleep states of normal individuals. Delta waves (< 4 Hz) are also found in sleep and deeper meditative states. Oddly, very experienced meditators show deep states of meditation correspond with very vast brain waves called Gamma waves (>40 Hz). 

Research from Brown University using magnetoencephalography (MEG) show that sensory attention correlates with alpha rhythms in the cortex. Additionally, persons who have mindfulness training are better able to regulate localized alpha brainwaves  than non-trained individuals. A computer model was also built by the investigators that simulates electrical activity of neural networks and makes predictions about how the alpha waves are produced. 

The model predicts that timing and strength of alpha waves can be controlled,

"from two separate regions of the thalamus, called thalamic nuclei, that talk to different parts of the cortex. One alpha generator would govern the local “tuning in,” for instance of sensations in a hand, while the other would govern the broader “tuning out” of other sensory or cognitive information in the cortex."

So, as we gain control of our focus of thought during meditation, we also gain control of our focus of thought on our sensory system and our regulation of our alpha wave brain states. Let's not forget that the alpha wave brain state also seems to correlate with people being able to overcome depressive thoughts or chronic pain signals. There are a lot of correlates in this train of research, but nonetheless, its very interesting.


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