Saturday, August 09, 2008

Lifeflow Brainwave

How do you reconcile the subjective experiences of meditation with the exact world of science?

A full house at a special event held at the Lifeflow City Studio heard Professor John

Willoughby (Dept of Medicine, Flinders University) say that a recent study (a collaborative effort between The Lifeflow Meditation Centre and a researcher at Flinders Medical Centre) was unique in providing such a close correlation between subjective meditation experiences and actual recorded measurements,and that the success of the experiment was underpinned by the work done at Lifeflow making the experiences of meditation accessible and intelligible.
Twelve Lifeflow students took part, each spending a day in retreat before the experiment. A team at Flinders University set up each volunteer, which included attaching a skull cap with over 100 electrodes – each one measuring a different area of brain activity. Brain activity was recorded whilst each student spent about an hour going through various stages of meditative concentration.
Dylan Smith, the researcher conducting the study, commented that, “…for the first time as far as we are aware, [we have] correlated changes in brain activity to states of meditation delineated in ancient Buddhist traditions”.
Does Lifeflow meditation just put you to sleep, or is something else going on!?
Other important findings:

In this study, both left and right hemispheres appeared to be equally involved in the process of meditation.

There is a significant difference between just resting with eyes closed and holding a light meditative state (alpha activity increases as soon as you go into meditation).

Particular brain rhythms decreased measurably in the deeper states of meditation. This appeared to correlate with the subjective feeling of decreasing mental activity (and greater tranquillity) as the mind settles more strongly into the meditation.

Meditation is quite different from sleep. In the early stages of meditation, the brainwave patterns are similar to the start of sleep (many beginning meditators can confirm this!), but in this experiment recorded brain activity in deep meditation was quite different from what is normally seen in sleep.

The results of this experiment should be formally published later this year. Preparation is being undertaken for another research project, part of which will be to study and measure the deeper levels of meditation in greater detail.


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