Is meditation just the preserve of Buddhists and new age faddists ? An increasing body of evidence shows that sustained meditation has significant positive effects on cognitive capacity, and neurological structure. Click here to see the details of Davidson & Lutz’s 2008study of Buddhist Monks and Novice Meditators.
In short : Davidson & Lutz studied Tibetan Buddhist Monks in an fMRI machine. These monks were highly experienced meditation practitioners, each having undertaken an average of 19,000 hours of practice. The monks were given a number of cognitive tasks to undertake. Their fMRI results were compared with those of non-meditators.
Results: It was found that
(i) the monks could pay attention to a particular stimulus for a longer period of time than non-meditators
(ii) the monks were able to process stimuli faster, and for a more sustained period than non-meditators.
(iii) the monks showed less activation in the amygdala (the ‘seat’ of emotion) when played ’emotional sounds’ than non-meditators.
(iv) the monks used fewer ‘brain resources’ to process stimuli than non-meditators.
The implications of this research are at least revolutionary, and possibly indicate the need for profound changes in the way in which we shape learning, training and living