Neuroscience and Meditation – What Can Possibly Be in Common ?

What can possibly connect meditation to neuroscience? Ancient meditators used to dedicate their whole life to spirituality and studying their own nature, especially the nature of one’s mind. Inside what they called the mind tons of thoughts and emotions constantly traveled back and forth, like little people in little cars on little roads (well, that is my modern comparison, there were no cars at that time for them to compare their thoughts to, you are right!) Meditators cared very little for those pesky little “creatures” – thoughts. Those thoughts were also very “hungry guys” and craved for more. Yet ancients soon realized that if they would stop feeding those pesky “little creatures,” the mind will become peaceful and finally get still. So they soon learn that the mind is not something that should rule “you,” but that “you” should rule the mind. With the mind still and quiet, the ancients believed another form of vision opened itself, And that new form was a much more clear vision that that of the “mind full of thoughts.” Now we all or at least very many of us know what meditation is. This process of quieting one’s mind on demand (as one of the technique) is called meditation ( I understand over-simplification here, but it is done on purpose). Modern neoroscientists call it brain exercises. The word meditation is not very popular in the field. And yet the techniques is the same. Now many, if not all of us know that our brain changes and often visible changes are possible due to these or other brain exercises. The term that is popular is the field is brainplastisity. Certain meditation techniques are offered in the field of neuroscience as well as meditation to re-wire and reshape the brain. For people who don’t meditate at all and no nothing about what I am even talking about the brain works in so to call “default-thought mode.” Also the parts of brain that are responsible for fear and anxiety show less neurological activity in the people who meditate on a regular basis. Although neuroscience was the first modern field that got so involved in the studies of meditation techniques, psychology got interested in meditation as well. Psychology uses another term “cognitive talk therapy” to describe the notion that your thoughts are not “you.” Meditators fast learn to notice how repetative our thoughts are. Our thoughts are mere interpretation of what we see around. They do not represent reality clearly. Whether those thoughts are positive or negative very clearly depend on way to many circumstances. So the way we interpret the world today may depend on our physical state, our hormonal level, whether we are stressed, hot, warm, cold, hungry, full of energy, or not so much…. We can interpret somebody’s behavior very wrongly just because of all those and many other things. Bad and negative thoughts are just stupid stories in your head. Stop feeding them and allow them to get quiet and not so agitated. There are many different meditation techniques. And they are not all the same. Start with something simple. And it does not need to be watching your breath because it can soon get boring and discouraging for some more active people. So do jogging meditation, swimming meditation, hiking meditation, yoga meditation, tai chi meditation, and what not, as long it clears your mind. Feel free to look for some of meditation techniques I write about on my Mindful Breathing Site, and feel free to read my personal story. Also, if you are not my friend on Facebook yet and you have an account and love to learn or share on the topic of meditation or any similar topic – feel free to add me:  Evelina Iablonskaya (the first letter is an “i”)/ and instagram evaisco/  Hope to hear from you soon, my dear friends. I love you all. We are all in this together. Evelyn J.

Autism Talks

I truly believe that every good article written in any other language but English simply NEEDS TO be translated into English. But that is just my thing…. So, here we are – these are not my words any more, and you’d see the name of the author of these words signed beneath. Please, enjoy!

I can:

  • Be a good talking companion on nearly any given topic
  • Be an attentive listener (My talking companion will feel he is the only one in the Universe important for me at the moment; simply saying I have mastered the skill of mindful listening techniques)
  • To find common language with the kids
  • To find common language with animals
  • Train rats; To teach them simple things: understand words, listen. I’m not sure how I do this, I guess this is just intuition.
  • To think quickly in stressful situations and act accordingly rationally: run fast, save someone, fight, depending on the circumstances. (please don’t mix stress that people acquire due to extreme situations with chronic stress. Extreme stress releases a huge dose of adrenaline into your blood. This adrenaline stimulates me very well, and I act rationally and become capable of enduring a lot, so I act accordingly fast and correctly. Chronic stress, on the other hand releases cortisol, and this hormone affects me differently. I can’t stand it.
  • To fight back physically in the street. (I hope I still can do that, have not really practiced it for a while.)
  • To explain subjects, teach, tutor. I did it as an amateur: I taught elementary math to an adult who was not good at it. As well as science: general biology, anatomy… I was contemplating on becoming a tutor.
  • To write official complains on different bad people (and there are still a lot of those ones out there). As well as fight for my own civil rights by filing a lot of government paperwork.
  • To professionally steep tea for Chinese Tea Ceremony.
  • To prepare certain incenses all by myslef.
  • Meditate
  • Control my inner organs with various techniques. (I stopped practicing this, but I’m planning on returning back to it again).
  • To tolerate pain as well as strong pain using other techniques and will power, so that pain lessened and did not prevent me from enjoying my daily life.
  • To memorize long digital equations, patterns, any types of combinations, passwords, codes, phone numbers and so on.
  • Write my own ideas using pentagrams, I can write a long paragraph using this style.
  • To read tarot card ( But I have stopped doing this  now)
  • To retain by breath under water for at least two minutes.
  • To use nunchaku;
  • To take up to 15 pills at once;
  • To swim using crawl stroke for a long period of time,
  • To rollerblade
  • To write poems
  • To write prose
  • To memorize lengthy texts by heart (poetry as well as prose)
  • To change my opinion about people one or the other way.
  • But I think the most important thing for me is self-control. This helps me always and everywhere.

These are the things that first came to my mind. I decided not to talk about my professional qualities.

Veta  Volkova

Stop that Self-Talk!

Did you notice that your mind is always busy? Does it sometimes drive you nuts? How often? Ever? Have you ever heard anyone tell you to just stop thinking too much. O.K. What was your answer? Don’t tell me, I know….

And yet, would you care to try? Or let us maybe start with “why on earth do I need to do it?” You start with acknowledging and admitting – yes, I do have a lot of self-talk in my head. But not just in general. (I often or I usually have a lot of self-talk). No, you have to “catch” it, so to say. Then you are like…. O.K. Who IS talking? And who is WATCHING the self-talk? Let me tell you. You are not your thoughts. But the observer, yes, the observer is you. The moment you got it, the moment you separated yourself from your thoughts – you GOT IT. And I mean YOU REALLY GOT IT, bro! Then there is no need to stop the thoughts, just keep watching them, that’s it. And in watching itself is a relief, and the watching will pacify them, and make your mind so clear that you’d be able to see beyond the thoughts, if you now what I mean. Give it a try. Enjoy!

WTF is going on in my brain Что за х-ня происходит с моим мозгом (русский перевод последует за английским текстом завтра, обещаю)

If you can imagine your brain, go ahead, please do so! Think of the area right behind your forehead. People call it lateral prefrontal cortex. But I will call it a balance center. It’s a pretty important part of your brain, bro! It is responsible for helping you making logical decisions. If this part of your brain functions properly, it will save your life, trust me. It will help you balance weird impulses that are constantly bombarding you from other parts of your brain.

O.K. Let’s move on. A little bit further down and a bit lower lays the part of your brain that is called a medial prefrontal cortex. It is more like the inside of your brain. Or the inside of the inside, if you can imagine… This part of the brain concerns only with you. That’s right. Let’s call it Ego Center! You, you, you…. Your memories, your dreams, your view point, your perspective…. You name it!

Let’s move on, baby: we are approaching insula. I’ll call it Feelings Center. It lays even more to the bottom of the brain and it is responsible for feelings and sensations.

Now let us look at the brain of a person that never meditated. We notice a very strong neurological connection between the two centers of the brain: the Feelings Center and the Ego Center. That sucks! Because every time you feel any sensations in your body, your Ego Center processes them as danger. And there can be tons and tons of sensations going on through our bodies per second. Now it is time to ask the WTF is going on with our brain? Why this Ego center is allowed to work like that against me? It sits inside of me and constantly deceives me! Yep, that’s true! Let me tell you why. There is nothing wrong with neurological connections and pathways between the Ego and the Feelings Centers, but!… you Balance Center is underdeveloped. And that is a BIG problem.

Now let’s look at the brain of a meditator. Regular meditation practices break down neurological connections between the Ego Center and the Feelings Center. Meditation also hep establish stronger connections between the Feelings Center and the Balance Center. And last but not least, meditation redirects the work of the Ego center from MY-self towards “the Other.” Yes! Now rather than me-me-me you feel empathy more naturally. Now you tell me, isn’t it great? Enjoy!

Shape Your Brain the Way You Want It Слепи Свой Мозг Сам русский перевод статьи следует сразу за английским

Did you know that you are capable of changing your own brain? If you doubt that let’s at least agree that your brain does change. Everything that happens in your life influences your brain. Brain is capable of making new connections. Neurons that fire together – wire together. Did you know that people who meditate have very different neural paths from people who don’t meditate? You don’t even need to be an expert of meditation. A beginner will already look like a super-hero, believe me! It’s all because meditation works wonders. It’s all about the technique itself, the marvelous tool. Not about who uses it. With some simple practices you can very fast totally rewire your brain yourself. The more your brain changes – the easier your life will become. it’s not just about your formal meditation it is actually about doing it while you live your life, while you are doing your regular life activities. Your formal meditation is that case becomes a sort of classroom. Many practitioners concentrate on the consciousness or awareness meditation. Yet the truth is that with time conscious approaches go into your automatic or subconscious mode. And they work just fine in that mode. MRI results sow increased thickness of the cortex in those people who meditate daily (as well as many other changes I won’t be naming here). So why  wait? Become an architect of your own brain. You brain is ever static but it continually remodels itself based on your experiences. Your brain constantly chatters. Meditators call it “monkey mind.” Why monkey? Unnecessary motion and copying. if you learn to quiet and eventually calm your ind on demand, then your brain will become your best friend and not your enemy.

Eve Jablonski

Знаешь ли ты, что ты сам в состоянии изменить свой мозг? Если ты не веришь в это, то согласись, что мозг меняется. Все, что происходит в твоей жизнь влияет на твой мозг. Твой мозг способен выстраивать новые нейрологические дорожки. Нейроны, которые загараются вместе – спаиватся. Знаешь ли ты, что люди, которые медетируют имеют большее количество различных нейродорожек в головном мозге по сравнению с теми людьми, которые не медитируют? Тебе не надо даже быть экспертом в медитации. Даже новичок, который только что начал медитировать уже будет похож на профессионала супергероя. И это не завивит от того, кто именно медитирует. Все это происходит благодаря тому, насколько замечатльна сама методика. Это как чудесный инструмент, который ты держишь у себя в руках. С помощью  этого инструмента ты сам можешь перепаять свой мозг! И главное, что медитация работает не только тогда, когда ты сидишь в позе лотоса, занимаясь формальной медитацией. Нет, она работает всегда, когда ты просто спокойно занимаешься своими повседневными делами. А вот формальная медитация в этой ситуации может быть сравнима с классной комнатой или уроком, где ты учишься жизни. Результаты МРТ показывают значительные физиологические изменения в подкорке и разных частях головного мозга у тех людей, которые медитируют. Многие люди, практикующие медитацию часто говорят о необходимости осознанной медитации. И это правильно. Но раньше или позже все доходит до автоматизма и медитация переходит в подсознание. Тогда чего же ты ждешь? Стань архитектом своего мозга и своей судьбы! Твой мозг никогда не находится в статическом состоянии. Он постоянно занимается болтавней. Это часто называют умом обезъянки. Почему именно это сравнение? Обязъянки зачастую делают много ненужных движений и часто копируют всех вокруг. Если ты научишься притишать и наконец просто выключать эту внутреннюю болтавню, твой мозг станет твоим настоящим другом и пересане быть твоим врагом.

Эва  Яблонская

Autism, Neuroscience, and Mindfulness Аутизм, Неврология, и Майндфулнесс русский перевод следует за английским текстом!

Many of us know a lot about mindfulness. I’d like to raise a question how does it work? We all know what it is and we all pretty much know what it does. Yet how does it work? Mindfulness is a technique that was adapted by Western Psychology majorly from Buddhist meditative techniques. It emphasizes paying attention on demand. You learn to pay attention to your thoughts and your feelings without judging them. You would usually start with paying attention to your breath.

We all respond to stress that happens in our lives (and bodies) as neurological beings. That is why I want to look at this from brain perspective today. Our brains always response to stress. But there are two ways of doing it. Some in the field use terms “hot” and “cold” to describe the two possible responses. “Hot” response is the one that involves amygdala – our emotions and senses. The second one can be referred to as “cold.” It is a cognitive response. It uses prefrontal cortex. If you live in chronic stress, your brain uses “hot” line. You become overly responsive. If you want to reduce stress you have to balance these systems and use ore “cold” or cognitive approach.  Mindfulness helps to balance these approaches. It actually changes the way amygdala connects to other parts of the brain! The connection between the right amygdala and the part of cortex which regulates emotions, mood, and anxiety, reduces significantly. Amygdala is no longer overly responsive.

Многие из нас знают о такой методике, как майндфулнесс. Я бы хотела рассмотреть этот вопрос с точки зрения неврология. Как работает эта методика? Многие из нас уже хорошо знают, что эта методика из себя представляет. Многие знают, какие результаты она приносит. Но почему это происходит и как же она работает? Методика-майндфулнесс была адаптированна зарубежной психологией из области Буддистских медитаций. Она учит концентрировать свое внимание на чем-либо по собственной воли и своему выбору. Ты учишься поочередно концетрироват внимание на разных вещах. Например на своих мыслях и чувствах. О чем я думаю? Что я чувствую? Но ты д елаешь это, не давая им никакой оценки. Обычно начинают с концентрации на дыхании. Мы, люди, отвечаем на стресс, как невробиологиеские существа. Я хоу рассмотрет тот вопрос с тоочки зрени работы мозга. Наш мозг всегда отвечает на стресс. Но он имеет две возможности это сделать. Некоторые уеные используют термины горячий и холодный подход. Горячая реакция задействует миндалину головного мозга. Это наши эмоции и чувства. Вторая возможност реагировать на стресс – это задествавать префронтальную кору головного мозга. то когнитивный или познавательный процесс. Этот путь принято называт холодным. Когда ты живешь в хроническом стрессе, твой ум привыкает использовать горячую линию. Ты становишься чрезмерно реактивным или чувствительным. Если ты хочешь уменьшить стресс, т ы должен научиться балансировать эти две линии. Ты должен чаще использовать холодную линию или мысли, чем горячую – чувства. Методика майндфулнесс в этом и помогает. Она способствует нейробиологическим изменениям в работе самой миндалины. Связь между правой миндалиной и той частью головного мозга, которая напрямую отвечает за эмоции, настроения и тревоги, постепенно теряется. Успехов вам!

Health and Healing through Vipassana

When we feel that this or that life threatening situation is beyond our control, we choose to act in various ways. At times people get depressed, devastated and even mad. But this never helps to change the situation. What we need is the insight. Is there any good reason to be mad? What is important to learn it is to realize what exactly is the cause of my discomfort, pain, uneasiness, sadness, fear, and so on. When you think you found or realized what is the cause, stay there. Pay deep attention to it, don’t try to act compulsively, It does not mean you cannot act upon the problem fast. You can act fast if the situation demands and you are capable of doing it. But what is important to learn is that most of the time this is not the case. Most of the time in difficult situations rather than re-acting, acting compulsively, try to stop. Sounds like a strange advice at first, but wit…

Pay attention to everything what is going on and try to look at the situation as if you were watching the movie. Imagine yourself to be an independent observer. What will happen next will surprise you. Decision will come on its on. Don’t rush it. It may take longer to ease into the unknown, to let go and sit still. Don’t act and don’t even wait. Waiting implies impatience. So, don’t wait, just be there with this unknown, mysterious peace, and trust it. You won’t need to “come up” with what you should  do. There is something in you that knows more than you think. Some call this intuition.

Whatever you call this quality , it is very useful and can be developed. You need to have a very clear awareness of what exactly is happening. This awareness cannot be based on your desires or attachments, it should rather be based on letting go. As I said, although we are talking about insight, you are not necessarily “looking” for the insight. The peace that you make with the situation and the tranquility – they bring the insight. Put your mind to rest and abide in this state of deep calm. You can only acquire it if you have strong faith that you are totally supported and that everything is as it should be. Nothing is happening by accident, you know.

Often we cannot reach this insight because we are so “bewitched” or attached to the wall of illusion that separates us from reality. When you realize this wall, the liberation and the transformation are complete. You are not the same person any more. The difference between change and transformation is significant. You can change this or that situation, but the foundation of the problem remains the same. When real transformation happens, nothing of the past remains the same. Namaste.