There’s so much hype now in the media on Facebook and all over about meditation. We hear on a daily basis about people going off travelling to India, meditating coming home and preaching about having connected with the world as one, but what’s the real point of mediation? After all, we’ve existed in the world for centuries so why now? Why is everyone going on about mediation? And what is there to gain from it? In a laboratory tucked away off a noisy New York City street, a soft-spoken neuroscientist has been placing Tibetan Buddhist monks into a car-sized brain scanner to better understand the ancient practice of meditation. The scanner tracks blood flow within the monks’ heads as they meditate inside its clunky walls, which echoes a musical rhythm when the machine is operating. Dr Josipovic’s research is part of a larger effort better to understand what scientists have dubbed the default network in the brain. He says the brain appears to be organised into two networks: the extrinsic network and the intrinsic, or default, network. Dr Josipovic has scanned the brains of more than 20 experienced meditators during the study. The extrinsic portion of the brain becomes active when individuals are focused on external tasks, like playing sports or pouring a cup of coffee.effort better to understand what scientists have dubbed the default network in the brain. “What we’re trying to do is basically track the changes in the networks in the brain as the person shifts between these modes of attention,” Dr Josipovic says.
Dr Josipovic has found that some Buddhist monks and other experienced meditators have the ability to keep both neural networks active at the same time during meditation – that is to say, they have found a way to lift both sides of the seesaw simultaneously. Well you’re probably thinking by now, “this research is all well and good, but what can mediation do for me? “Well the first thing meditation will do for you is improve your health and concentration. Here in Western society, lives have become so consumed with running around chasing targets and unobtainable deadlines, that we hardly stop to breathe let alone think clearly. Those closest to us suffer, because when we arrive home after a hard thankless days work, our anger and frustration spills over into our immediate environment. The effects of an unstable and clouded mind, ripples into wider society beginning with those closest to us, right out into the public arena. This isn’t something that we do consciously but nonetheless we do it. By taking just 10 minutes of your time to sit quietly and breathe, you’ll reduce stress levels dramatically, creating the space to become a more balanced harmonious human being. It’s strange, but some will claim that they don’t even have 10 minutes to sit quietly and to breathe which is of course completely untrue. You’re breathing constantly, in fact it’s your breath that keeps you alive, but how often do you actually stop and honour the breath that keeps you functioning? There are many ways to meditate, but breath meditation is the easiest and most beneficial. For example by sitting for just 10 minutes and listening to your breath, not changing it, but simply listening to it how it flows, the sound, the speed of your breath you will instantaneously begin learning how to focus your mind in one direction. When you focus on only one thing, your mind can’t wander, it’s physically impossible and this is where many people fall short in everyday life. Maybe you try to fulfil too many tasks at one time? take in too much information that you simply can’t process? and they set yourself tasks that you simply can’t meet or fulfil. The result of this, is stress, feelings of failure, workplace burnout and often mental breakdown. Learning to focus and relax the mind is vital for us to function as happy healthy human beings in a chaotic society that has become the West. When your mind is balanced, your physical body becomes easier, lighter and more energised because you have got rid of the blockages that hold you black in life. This has a knock-on effect in the wider communities, because the way that you present yourself to others also determines the energy they absorb from you.