Dr. Richard J. Davidson, PhD, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has been studying the brain structures behind not just anxiety, depression, and addiction, but happiness itself!
Using brain imaging technologies, Davidson has been able to “map” the brain of people who were meditating. In this fascinating study, he mapped the brains of employees at a biotech company, more than half of whom completed about three hours of meditation once a week led by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
After four months, the meditating subjects noticed a boost in mood and a decrease in anxiety, while their immune systems became measurably stronger. Davidson vividly showed that meditation produced a significant increase in activity in the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions and traits like optimism and resilience.
In another study that involved meditating monks, he found that during meditation, this area of the brain lit up like the lights in Times Square, showing activity beyond anything he and his team had ever seen.
These and other findings of Davidson’s have bolstered mounting research suggesting that the adult brain is changeable. Even for those who have a predisposition towards depression or anxiety, meditation can help our brains incline towards a happier outlook.
This new research represents a huge paradigm shift in the study of the brain and the actual sense of possibility for people dealing with difficult emotions.
If you’d like to experience for yourself how powerful meditation can be, I’ve posted a few audio meditations on this site for you to try. One of the ones I like best is ‘All Is Well’. It’s short sweet. To try it, CLICK HERE.
Or, go try out some of the others I’ve posted on the site. CLICK HERE