Meditation is explained by the special state of our body. Slow pulse, breathing, nervous system calms down, that's it. Hooray, thanks, this is spaaaam
Meditation from the point of view of medicine is psychosomatic relaxation, which is used in psychotherapy, due to its direct healing effect on the human body.
An altered state of consciousness, in which both the concentration of the mind and the ordering of thought processes are possible, and relaxation of the body at the same time (like an electronic gadget in the system cooling mode). If you list the physiological effects of meditation, then these will be:
-slow breathing (slow abdominal breathing);
-decrease in heart rate (due to less oxygen intake);
-with high blood pressure - normalization;
-prevention of overexertion decrease in cortisol (stress hormone);
-decrease in blood production, which means a decrease in carbon dioxide production (due to a decrease in cortisol);
-production of predominantly alpha waves by the brain, alignment of the asymmetry of waves between the hemispheres (this is one of the rhythms of brain activity, with the predominance of alpha waves, a state of complete relaxation occurs, getting rid of nervous tension and stress. The brain slows down thought processes, consciousness becomes clearer. At such moments people are able to think creatively, generate new ideas.);
-increase in blood flow to the extremities;
In addition to all of the above, meditation helps to improve self-control, more successful self-realization and a positive state of mental health in general. Reduces cravings for drug use, the strength of our fears and phobias, even eliminates eating disorders.
The body and psyche are always connected and influence each other, and meditation is an exercise for the brain that affects the state of the body.
Everything is scientifically based.
A number of studies have found characteristic EEG changes in the state of meditation. It is assumed that an altered state of consciousness is always accompanied by a number of changes in neurophysiological activity, such as:
1) Increased alpha activity in all leads (recall that normally the alpha rhythm is manifested only in the occipital and parietal regions, decreasing towards the frontal leads), including the frontal; this phenomenon can be explained by the relaxation of the meditator, so strong that it manifests itself even when a person is with open eyes (normally the alpha rhythm appears with closed eyes and disappears when they are opened) [Aftanas et al., 2001; Cahn et al., 2006].
2) The stability of this activity in the alpha frequency range under external stimuli (for example, sound, pain and visual stimuli, normally leading to blockade of the alpha rhythm) [Cahn, 2006].
3) The disappearance of the interhemispheric asymmetry of the alpha rhythm, characteristic of a normal EEG, which indicates the equal participation of both hemispheres in the generation of activity (overcoming the left hemispheric dominance associated with conceptual thinking) [Aftanas et al., 2005]. This can also explain the positive effect of meditative practice on patients with depression, since such patients are characterized by a strong asymmetry of the alpha rhythm, which is smoothed out by meditation [Fell et al., 2010].
4) The appearance of theta activity when awake state (meditators do not fall asleep) [Aftanas, 2005; Baijal et al., 2010; Fell, 2010]. More experienced meditators have a more pronounced theta rhythm than beginners.
5) Alpha theta "swing" in deep meditation: alpha and theta rhythms alternate with a duration of 2-5 seconds [ Aftanas, 2001; Fell, 2010].
6) Already at the end of meditative practice, a stable alpha rhythm is maintained and flashes of theta rhythm are observed in the waking state [Aftanas et al., 2002].
7) The appearance of peaks of gamma activity in both hemispheres of the brain, and in more experienced meditators it is more pronounced [Fell, 2010]. Experienced psychophysiologists note that the background gamma rhythm in the EEG of meditators exceeds all levels of similar activity previously observed in healthy people.
In the above points, the EEG features were discussed directly during meditation, but some of these changes persist in the "normal" state of the subjects. Let us now turn to the differences in the brain activity of people who regularly practice yoga from the control groups (people of the same age, gender, etc., but not doing yoga). If a person is engaged in meditative practice for a long time, a repetitive effect on consciousness occurs, which entails some qualitative and quantitative effects of neurophysiology, which persist in the future [Fell, 2010].
Thus, it has been shown that in practicing meditators the alpha rhythm is generally more pronounced, which positively correlates with a low level of anxiety and a highth emotional stability [Aftanas, 2005; Cahn, 2006]. Thus, meditative practice can change the spectral distribution of the EEG and cause some changes in the basal level of rhythm manifestation.
Some researchers have shown that the power of the theta rhythm positively correlates with the experience of the meditator: the longer and "deeper" a person plunge into a state of meditation, the more often and stronger the spontaneous flashes of theta rhythm in his EEG [Aftanas, 2005]. Theta activity is associated with tasks aimed at memorizing information. The appearance of bursts of theta rhythm can be associated with the described feelings of calmness and well-being and low mental "workload" of the brain.
It can be assumed that the long-term effects of meditation are due to the neuronal plasticity of the brain. Neuronal plasticity implies the formation of additional neuronal and synaptic connections, as well as the expansion and displacement of the functional areas of the brain (such changes are most typical in case of brain damage, as well as in people who train specialized cognitive processes for a long time, for example, in musicians, taxi drivers, who increase control of their sensorimotor abilities for better navigation in space, etc.). Similarly, meditative practice can lead to changes in neuronal structure and an increase in gray matter thickness in various brain systems (see below) [Fell, 2010]. Thus, meditation is not a passive process, but an active state, which includes cognitive transformation of the brain structure and learning.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging, which allows you to show which area of the brain is currently most strongly supplied arterial blood, which indicates the degree of activation of the studied area) - studies show that during meditation the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex are activated [Engstrom et al., 2010], and long-term meditative practice is associated with the development of cortical zones responsible for attention. Differences in activation of the insular lobe of the cerebral cortex located inside the temporal region are observed when comparing experienced meditators with beginners [Chiesa et al., 2010]. The functions of this area are considered to be emotional support, which is not related to the primary needs of a person, but is responsible for social adaptation, feelings of empathy, empathy.
In people who have been engaged in concentration meditation for a long time, an increase in the density of gray matter in the structures of the hippocampus, insular lobe, prefrontal region and cingulate gyrus of the brain, as well as a thickening of the cortex in these areas, compared with the control group (i.e. in areas responsible for memory (hippocampus); perception of internal space, memorization of body schemes (prefrontal cortex); social emotions, empathy, perception of pain (insula); emotional support of human activity, the ability to better adapt to changing conditions (cingulate gyrus)) [Lazar et al.,2005; Froeliger et al., 2012].
* To answer the question, an excerpt from the text compiled by Liburkina, Moscow, 2013 was used
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