Z z z z zen on the brain.
December 2, 2011, 3:00 am
Filed under: Behavior, Mind, Spirit, Uncategorized, Writing

I’m lying in my cozy bed, wine resting on the table next to me. Pandora is set on Yoga Radio and the present song is a blend of a wooden flute and ocean. Wow. Just broken by a harsh ad about coffee at McDonalds. Time for a sip of wine. Ahhh. And we’re back to some harmonic keyboard melody.

I want the ocean song back. I miss the ocean. My camera was absent last week as I sat on a wooden step staring at the Atlantic. The tide was high, licking all the smooth stones along the sandy shore. I gazed ahead, wishing a dolphin would jump up to present itself. Then I decided to watch what was there instead; a loon bobbing on a wave and fresh lines of sea froth rolling back into their original form. Spots of light played on the water, bending and changing with each new wave. Salt-water droplets gushed upward over a stone wall, puddling in the yard of a beachfront home. I looked through the huge angular windows on the side, wondering how it would feel to recline on the white chaise lounge and drink in the Atlantic whenever I desired. I could see a sculpture on an end-table and pictured hidden hallways lined with painted canvases, perhaps a mason jar filled with seashells and blue ceramic mugs for morning coffee and evening tea.

Eventually my mind stopped story telling and imagining. Completely there, I forgot about potential dolphins and how I would ever own a home in general, let alone an ocean front one. All that mattered were those rolling bumps of liquid on the horizon, that stretch of open water like a beautiful reminder of how small I am. All I was seeing was that water moving in its cycle,  keeping its faithful rhythm in partnership with the moon. I felt how they depend on one another for push and pull, for resistance, change and release.

What neuroscience and psychology has proven about meditation is brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress , mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear. A UCLA study using MRIs to detect differences in the brains of meditators and non-meditators revealed that meditators showed a significant increase in hippocampal tissue, as well as a similarly increased volume of tissue in the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus. All of these areas are recognized as playing a role in emotional regulation.

In other words, thoughtful concentration will promote brain growth and plasticity. Like our bodies and muscles, the brain is also able to be shaped and transformed through meditation and countless other mental exercises.


1 Comment so far
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Beautiful description. I was there with you.

Comment by Daidree

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