Science Advances recently published a set of studies that revealed not all meditation is created equal, reports New Scientist. That is not to say that some meditations are better than others. Different forms of meditation affect different regions of the brain and have different behavioral reactions in the brain.
The first method was mindfulness meditation which taught the participants how to mindfully direct their attention to their breath or their body. Mindfulness meditation is extremely popular thanks to the introduction of many apps that make the practice accessible and easy to learn. Mindfulness is a form of practice in itself, as is meditation. Combined into mindfulness meditation, the benefits of both practices are magnified.
A second method involved intention on compassion through ‘loving-kindness’ meditations. Meditation practices can have a specific intention, use a mantra, or be guided with specific words, intentions, and mantras. Mindfulness is still a component in this kind of meditation as there is often a focus on the breath. Also included in this second method, according to the article, was “non-judgmental problem-sharing sessions with a partner.”
Lastly, meditation was practiced in a more philosophical way. Meditation is not always closing the eyes, taking deep breaths, and trying to think one thing, nothing, or observe thinking. Many philosophers produced texts of “meditations”. Writings of meditations are collections of analyses, critical thinking, and contemplation on varying subjects. This final method had participants “…think about issues from different points of view,” the article describes, through “…a mix of partnered sessions and solo meditation.”
Each kind of meditation produced a different result in the way the brain was affected. For example, the parts of the cortex which contributed to learning one of the new meditation skills grew thicker over the course of three months. “Mindfulness meditation increased thickness in the prefrontal cortex and parietal lobes,” the article writes. The intention based meditation increased the limbic system and the last method of meditation including critical think “…boosted regions involved in theory of mind.”
The findings are significant and telling about the way we think about our brains and the way our brains respond to the way that we think. When we can learn to change our thoughts, we can truly, quite literally, change our minds. Recovery should include a multi-faceted, diverse range of treatments, therapies and healing modalities to help change the brain in order to change a life. You can find freedom from addiction. A sustainable recovery is possible.
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