Meditation and Cognition

I was reading last night about the benefits of meditation on learning.  When people hear the word meditation they often think of yoga and relaxation, but meditation is more than just a relaxation technique.  While people  do  relax and feel less stressed out, it’s almost an additional benefit and it’s not necessarily the reason for meditation.

Let’s talk a bit more about what meditation is.  There are several flavors, but the most popular can be separated into two different styles.  You either have a word, or an image that you concentrate gently on and every time your mind pulls away from that word, or image you guide it back to the original thought.  It’s a centering technique.

In another style of meditation, you allow your thoughts to flow through your mind.  You don’t let them excite you, you are just being present in the moment and you are almost watching your mind work.  This style of meditation is called “mindfulness meditation”.  With both  styles you gently and calmly watch the flow in your head, but notice in this second form there isn’t any focus that you try to recapture.  You are floating in your thoughts and there they are and you just let them flow.

Meditation has been an important  part of many world cultures spiritual practices.   A religious person might call it prayer.  But the benefits of this concentration can be seen by professionals and researchers by reading the  brain waves of folks who are engaged or who have practiced meditating.  And there may even be a difference in the outcomes when someone is praying and when someone is attentively engaged in meditating.

I’m fascinated to find that learning outcomes seem to improve among people who have practiced meditation.  It also seems to help give a little more focus to people with ADHD.  Some  studies show practitioners have less trouble with stress and anxiety in their lives.  Physiologically some folks have lowered blood pressure and have improved their overall health.

On the one hand it seems like it’s too good to be true.  But what if it’s not?

If you would like to talk about meditating and you’d be interested in trying it out- let me know.  You can send me an email at mogallant@gmail.com.





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