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Meditation and the brain

Mindfulness meditation and related techniques are intended to train attention for the sake of provoking insight. A wider, more flexible attention span makes it easier to be aware of a situation, easier to be objective in emotionally or morally difficult situations, and easier to achieve a state of responsive, creative awareness or "flow".[10]

One theory, presented by Daniel Goleman & Tara Bennett-Goleman[11] suggests that meditation works because of the relationship between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.[12] In very simple terms, the amygdala is the part of the brain that decides if we should get angry or anxious (among other things), and the pre-frontal cortex is the part that makes us stop and think about things (it is also known as the inhibitory centre).

So, the prefrontal cortex is very good at analyzing and planning, but it takes a long time to make decisions. The amygdala, on the other hand, is simpler (and older [13] in evolutionary terms). It makes rapid judgments about a situation and has a powerful effect on our emotions and behaviour, linked to survival needs. For example, if a human sees a lion leaping out at them, the amygdala will trigger a fight or flight response long before the prefrontal cortex responds.

But in making snap judgments, our amygdalas are prone to error[citation needed], such as seeing danger where there is none. This is particularly true in contemporary society where social conflicts are far more common than encounters with predators, and a basically harmless but emotionally charged situation can trigger uncontrollable fear or anger — leading to conflict, anxiety, and stress.[14]

Because there is a gap between the time an event occurs and the time it takes the amygdala to react, a skilled meditator may be able to intervene before a fight or flight response takes over, and perhaps even redirect it into more constructive or positive feelings.[citation needed]

Studies done by Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital have shown that meditation increases gray matter in the brain and slows down certain brain deterioration. The experiment included 20 individuals with intensive Buddhist "insight meditation" training and 15 who did not meditate. The brain scan revealed that those who meditated have an increased thickness of gray matter in parts of the brain that are responsible for attention and processing sensory input. The increase in thickness ranged between four and eight thousandths of an inch (3.175 x 10-6m - 6.35 x 10 -6m). The amount of meditation is directly proportional to the increase in gray matter. The study also show that meditation helps slow down brain deterioration due to aging. [15][16]

how to meditate-

Yay! I love meditation. Just going deep into your thoughts has been so helpful for me, and the complete stillness of meditation is great too.

I read a brilliant book that thought me how to meditate and be mindful...The miracle of mindfulness by Thict Naht Hahn. I'd definitely recommend it, the skills of mindfulness are so helpful for people with anxiety.
I think meditation can calm your mind and alleviate stress, but social phobia is about being too much inside your head and i think you can't get outside your head with meditation.
I agree that people with SA live in their head to much, but I don't think the answer to that is ignoring what's in your head. Don't you think that calming those bad thoughts in your head, and being happy within yourself, would be of much more benefit when you begin to try to be happy on the outside too?
That's why I think meditation is so good, you learn to be happy in your head rather than resisting it all the time, and being calm and loving inside rather than constantly anxious and stressed any time you start thinking.


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with my own experience. when i meditate its a time that i dont get caught up with the jabberings on inside my head. I learn to develop a certain "control" over the way i want my thoughts to flow. Its like a daily work out for my brain...

And when i am really deep in meditation its one of the few times i get to experience the world outside my brain... I have a distinct connection with the world around me.. I experience the world externally from my self.