Benefits of Meditation on Emotions
Meditation has been practiced for centuries. However, in the last decade it has become more widely practiced in America and many people who meditate preach about the mass benefits of this Eastern technique.
During meditation, the amygdala, a part of the brain, which processes emotional stimuli, showed decreased activity. However, it was especially responsive when participants were shown images of other people that were either good, bad, or neutral for a practice known as “compassion meditation”.
“This is the first time meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state,” said Gaelle Desbordes, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Boston University Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology.
This study used participants that had no previous experience with meditation and found that even when they were not engaged in a meditative state, the subject’s emotional responses were subdued, and they experienced more compassion for others when faced with disturbing images. After an eight week period the participants retained the ability to focus their attention and reduce their emotional reactions.
Some researchers believe that meditation might be the key to help ease off dependency on pharmaceutical drugs and much more, “The implications extend far beyond meditation,” said Catherine Kerr of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center, both at HMS. “They give us clues about possible ways to help people better regulate a brain rhythm that is deregulated in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions.”