ScienceDaily (Mar. 31, 2010) —
Forget about crystals and candles, and about sitting and breathing in
awkward ways. Meditation research explores how the brain works when we
refrain from concentration, rumination and intentional thinking.
Electrical brain waves suggest that mental activity during meditation is
wakeful and relaxed.
the popularity and effectiveness of meditation as a means of alleviating
stress and maintaining good health, there is a pressing need for a
rigorous investigation of how it affects brain function," says Professor
Jim Lagopoulos of Sydney University, Australia. Lagopoulos is the
principal investigator of a joint study between his university and
researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
on changes in electrical brain activity during nondirective meditation.
Constant brain waves
Whether we are mentally active, resting or asleep, the brain always has
some level of electrical activity. The study monitored the frequency and
location of electrical brain waves through the use of EEG
(electroencephalography). EEG electrodes were placed in standard
locations of the scalp using a custom-made hat
Participants were experienced practitioners of Acem Meditation, a
nondirective method developed in Norway. They were asked to rest, eyes
closed, for 20 minutes, and to meditate for another 20 minutes, in
random order. The abundance and location of slow to fast electrical
brain waves (delta, theta, alpha, beta) provide a good indication of
Relaxed attention with theta
meditation, theta waves were most abundant in the frontal and middle
parts of the brain.
types of waves likely originate from a relaxed attention that monitors
our inner experiences. Here lies a significant difference between
meditation and relaxing without any specific technique," emphasizes
"Previous studies have shown that theta waves indicate deep relaxation
and occur more frequently in highly experienced meditation
practitioners. The source is probably frontal parts of the brain, which
are associated with monitoring of other mental processes."
we measure mental calm, these regions signal to lower parts of the
brain, inducing the physical relaxation response that occurs during
experiences with alpha
waves were more abundant in the posterior parts of the brain during
meditation than during simple relaxation. They are characteristic of
wave type has been used as a universal sign of relaxation during
meditation and other types of rest," comments Professor Řyvind Ellingsen
from NTNU. "The amount of alpha waves increases when the brain relaxes
from intentional, goal-oriented tasks.This is a sign of deep relaxation,
-- but it does not mean that the mind is void."
Neuroimaging studies by Malia F. Mason and co-workers at Dartmouth
College NH suggest that the normal resting state of the brain is a
silent current of thoughts, images and memories that is not induced by
sensory input or intentional reasoning, but emerges spontaneously "from
"Spontaneous wandering of the mind is something you become more aware of
and familiar with when you meditate," continues Ellingsen, who is an
experienced practitioner. "This default activity of the brain is often
underestimated. It probably represents a kind of mental processing that
connects various experiences and emotional residues, puts them into
perspective and lays them to rest."
Different from sleep
waves are characteristic of sleep. There was little delta during the
relaxing and meditative tasks, confirming that nondirective meditation
is different from sleep.
waves occur when the brain is working on goal-oriented tasks, such as
planning a date or reflecting actively over a particular issue. EEG
showed few beta waves during meditation and resting.
findings indicate that you step away from problem solving both when
relaxing and during meditation," says Ellingsen.
Nondirective versus concentration
Several studies indicate better relaxation and stress management by
meditation techniques where you refrain from trying to control the
content of the mind.
methods are often described as nondirective, because practitioners do
not actively pursue a particular experience or state of mind. They
cultivate the ability to tolerate the spontaneous wandering of the mind
without getting too much involved. Instead of concentrating on getting
away from stressful thought and emotions, you simple let them pass in an
Nondirective meditation yields more marked changes in electrical brain
wave activity associated with wakeful, relaxed attention, than just
resting without any specific mental technique.
above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff)
from materials provided by The
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU),
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) (2010, March 31).
Brain waves and meditation. ScienceDaily.
Retrieved April 1, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100319210631.htm
Lagopoulos et al. Increased
Theta and Alpha EEG Activity During Nondirective Meditation. The
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,
2009; 15 (11): 1187 DOI: 10.1089/acm.2009.0113
Wish to try out some brainwaves ??????????????
may also download some of the brainwaves from http://anupamaholistics.4shared.com
(you must use a headphone to listen to these brainwaves, otherwise it
has no effect as these brainwaves are binaural beats created by beating
of different frequency sounds in two ears).