The Science of Happiness. Register Today
   
 

More on Meditation and Your Brain

By Anett Gyurak | October 16, 2009 | 0 comments

The last Greater Good post discussed how years of meditation practice can physically alter the brain in ways that help us manage our emotions and boost our skills of attention. But if you haven't already been meditating for years, don't give up hope! Other research suggests that you can see meditation's effects on your social and emotional skills after just 20 minutes of practice a day for five days.

In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year, neuroscientist Yi-Yun Tang and his colleagues reported that people who meditate for as little as 20 minutes a day for five days showed fewer signs of stress immediately after their practice, including lower heart rate and respiratory rate—levels even lower than those of a control group that practiced muscle-relaxation.

What's more, the meditators demonstrated a stronger ability to regulate their behavior and emotions. Specifically, they had higher "heart rate variability," which is an index of how well one can swing into action when startled or stimulated, and calm down when there is no immediate danger. Most interestingly, mediators also showed increased activation in the area of the brain that coordinates the physiological functions, such as heart-rate, that activate in response to threats, suggesting that their physiological reactions under stress are more controlled and adaptive.

Previous research, including a 2007 study on which Tang was the lead author, has also found that just five days of meditation training can boost participants' concentration skills and reduce their reactions to stress. But this study took the previous findings a step further and pinpointed the specific brain and physiological mechanisms that help reduce reactivity to stress after meditation.

Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 
  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Most...

  
  • How Self-Compassion Beats Rumination

    August 20, 2014

    A new study suggests that self-compassion improves mood, largely by helping us avoid negative rumination.

  • How the Teen Brain Transforms Relationships

    August 12, 2014

    Dr. Daniel Siegel explains how changes to the adolescent brain transform relationships with peers and parents—and what adults can learn from those changes.

  • Eight Keys to End Bullying

    August 26, 2014

    Can we stop bullying? Signe Whitson says yes—by consistently reaching out to both children who bully and those who are bullied.

  

Greater Good Events

The Science of Happiness

Starts September 9, 2014 - Register Now!


The Science of Happiness

An unprecedented free online course exploring the roots of a happy, meaningful life. Co-taught by the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas. Up to 16 CE credit hours available.


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain By Sharon Begley Begley explains neuroplasticity: how experience can shape the brain’s structure—and, in turn, change the way our minds and bodies function.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.

Dr. Christine Carter's blog on the science of raising happy kids.

» READ MORE
 

Sponsors

The Quality of Life Foundation logo Special thanks to

The Quality of Life Foundation for its support of the Greater Good Science Center

 
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement