We are pleased to start off 2015 focused on the evolving field of neuroscience and harnessing the power of your own brain.
If you are still searching for new behaviors or practices for the new year, you may wish to consider meditation. Contemplative practice has gone on for thousands of years and study after study shows the powerful benefits of meditation on human health and wellbeing. What`s particularly interesting in the selected article below, Neuroscience Reveals the Secrets of Meditation`s Benefits: Mind of the Meditator, is that researchers explore 3 varieties of contemplative practice: Focused Attention, Mindfulness, and Compassion and Loving Kindness. Neuroimaging proves the ability of these practices to rewire your brain and leading you to greater health and well-being. Have you considered incorporating a contemplative practice into your daily regime?
We are excited to launch our webinar series this year with two faculty presenters from our 2014 Coaching in Leadership and Healthcare Conference sponsored by Harvard Medical School; Margaret Moore, MBA and Shelley Carson PhD. They will present their latest neuroscience model designed to help you go from "survive" to "thrive" all year long and how to access different brain states depending on what you are doing.
If you are looking for more to read, we have recommended two books that focus on organizing your mind.
It is our hope that as we journey together through 2015, that we do so with reduced stress, decreased emotional exhaustion, and increased resiliency and well-being so that we can all reach our highest potential.
Director of Sponsors, Members, Marketing
Mind of the Meditator: Contemplative practices that extend back thousands of years show a multitude of benefits for both body and mind by Matthieu Ricard, Antoine Lutz and Richard J. Davidson, Scientific American, November 2014
Special thanks to Deb Elbaum, MD, CPCC, ACC for reviewing this research article and translating the key points to use your coaching practice.
We have been told that meditation has beneficial effects, and this article provides compelling physiological data to support this claim. Research representing almost 15 years of studies conducted at more than 19 universities shows that experienced meditators experience significant changes in their brain structure and function.
These experienced meditators included monastics and lay practitioners of Buddhism who have practiced meditation for tens of thousands of hours. Their brain imaging scans and electroencephalograms were compared to people who do not meditate or are beginning meditators.
Studies were performed on three different types of meditation:
• Focused-attention -- This type of meditation aims to quiet and center the mind in the present moment. Meditators become aware of distractions and refocus their attention. Four phases of focused-attention meditation have been identified: mind wandering; distraction awareness; reorientation of awareness; and refocus. Brain scans performed during these four phases showed that different brain structures were activated during each phase of meditation.
• Mindfulness -- In this type of meditation, people cultivate an awareness of the emotions, thoughts, and sensations they are experiencing, but in a way that is less emotionally reactive and creates less mental distress. After a three-month retreat of intensive mindfulness meditation, meditators performed better in studies on attention to visual stimuli and had decreased brain activity in brain areas related to anxiety. Another study showed that expert meditators, as compared to control subjects, had increased brain volume in the prefrontal cortex, an area that plays a role in processing attention, sensory information, and bodily sensations. Expert meditators also showed decreased volume in the amygdala, a region responsible for processing fear.
• Compassion and loving–kindness -- This meditation practice encourages an altruistic perspective toward others; meditators experience a sincere, compassionate desire to help. Novice meditators who practiced a week of compassion and loving–kindness meditation had greater compassion toward suffering individuals portrayed in visual clips. In contrast, people who had empathy training only for a week experienced psychological distress when watching the video clips.
This research demonstrates that adults can transform their brain by becoming experts at meditation. Now, when you recommend to your clients that they incorporate practice meditation or mindfulness, you can back up your recommendations with scientific evidence.
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