The Benefits of Meditation

The brain waves of meditators show why they're healthier. Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex—brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. In other words, they were calmer and happier than before.

By Colin Allen, published on April 1, 2003 - last reviewed on June 6, 2012

Maybe meditation isn't so mysterious after all. Neuroscientists
have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas
of the cortex - brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move
to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the
negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also
less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical
School, recorded the brain waves of stressed-out employees of a high-tech
firm in Madison, Wisconsin. The subjects were split randomly into two
groups, 25 people were asked to learn meditation over eight weeks, and
the remaining 16 were left alone as a control group.

All participants had their brain waves scanned three times during
the study: at the beginning of the experiment, when meditation lessons
were completed eight weeks later and four months after that. The
researchers found that the meditators showed a pronounced shift in
activity to the left frontal lobe. In other words, they were calmer and
happier than before. The study will be published in the next issue of
Psychosomatic Medicine.

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