Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Positively inspiring thought on meditation by Daniel Goleman

Not necessarily, because meditation is mind training. If during the walk you daydream, you plan, you reminisce, you listen to some music on your Walkman, you are not training your mind at all. If during that time, however, you are more disciplined and pay close attention to what you are experiencing, like the wind on your face, the smells and what you see, and you don't let yourself get lost in thought, that is mindfulness training--bringing your mind back to the moment whenever it starts to wander.

Then you are actually acquiring that mental skill. If you do that kind of a practice regularly, with
discipline, and you do it daily, you actually begin to reshape the brain circuitry for emotions and for perception in quite a powerful and beneficial way. In fact, Professor Davidson, whom I mentioned earler, is now looking at Olympic-level meditators, like Tibetan lamas. He's discovered that when people are in the grip of a distressing emotion like anger or high anxiety, there is a lot of activity in the right pre-frontal cortex which is right behind the forehead. When people are feeling very upbeat, energized, happy, optimistic, there is a lot of activity in the left pre-frontal cortex. The ratio of left/right activity in a person's brain when they are at rest predicts quite accurately their mood range, day to day. Just like for IQ, there is a bell curve for this ratio. Most of us are in the middle. We have good days and we have bad days. If you are extremely far to the right side, you are probably clinically depressed or have an anxiety disorder. If you are very far to the left, then when you have a bad mood, it probably doesn't last long; you bounce right back.
One day an old Tibetan lama wandered into the lab and they hooked him up. He got the highest reading to the left. By the way, when Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced mindfulness to that bio-tech company, the people there were tilted towards the right
originally. By the end of eight weeks of mindfulness training they had tilted to the left. What Davidson suspects is that there was what's called the "dose response relationship." The more you do the practice, the more the brain changes in that direction.

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence in an interview to

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