Entering hyperspace

Aug
21
2015
by
Lynne McTaggart
/
0
Comments

Dear Readers,

I’m in the midst of studying what exactly happens to the participants of my Intention Experiments and Power of Eight® groups for my next book, and it’s led me to the work of Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of Wisconsin’s Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience.

Davidson is an expert in the communication between the brain and body. Several years ago, his work even came to the attention of the Dalai Lama, who wished to understand more about the biological effects of intensive meditation.

Davidson is fascinated by what goes on in the brains of monks. He and his associate Antoine Lutz have worked with more than 100 monks and Buddhists, studying the effect of meditation on the brain and on brain plasticity. They’re particularly interested in which parts of the brain change depending upon the particular type of meditation and how these changes relate to the object of conscious focus.

Dear Readers,

I’m in the midst of studying what exactly happens to the participants of my Intention Experiments and Power of Eight® groups for my next book, and it’s led me to the work of Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of Wisconsin’s Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience.

Davidson is an expert in the communication between the brain and body. Several years ago, his work even came to the attention of the Dalai Lama, who wished to understand more about the biological effects of intensive meditation.

Davidson is fascinated by what goes on in the brains of monks. He and his associate Antoine Lutz have worked with more than 100 monks and Buddhists, studying the effect of meditation on the brain and on brain plasticity. They’re particularly interested in which parts of the brain change depending upon the particular type of meditation and how these changes relate to the object of conscious focus.

The minds of monks

Lutz and Davidson have examined three types of meditation: focused attention, where the mediator concentrates on the in and out breaths; mindfulness, where participants maintain moment to moment awareness of all their sensations, including thoughts, in order to cultivate less reactive response to thoughts and feelings; and finally compassion and loving kindness mediation, where the meditator cultivates a feeling of love and kindness toward all other people, in order to cultivate an ever-present sense of altruism.

Each type of meditation offers a workout for a different portion of the brain and at different frequencies. Focused attention and loving kindness meditation appear to activate very fast frequencies in the brain (beta 2, at 20-30 Hz and gamma waves at 30-50 Hz), which tend to create a highly focused brain, whereas open monitoring makes use of very slow brain waves (theta brain waves of 5 to 8 Hz) so that the brain relaxes and becomes less reactive to what’s going on out there.

When Davidson and Lutz studied monks carrying out compassionate meditation, the EEG readings were activated on a scale neither Davidson nor any other scientist had ever seen. The monitors showed sustained bursts of high gamma-band activity – rapid cycles of 25–70 hertz.

The monks had rapidly shifted from a high concentration of beta waves to a preponderance of alpha, back up to beta and finally up to gamma.

Peak intensity

Gamma band, the highest rate of brain-wave frequencies, is employed by the brain when it is working its hardest: at a state of rapt attention, when sifting through working memory, during deep levels of learning, in the midst of great flashes of insight.

As Davidson discovered, when the brain operates at these extremely fast frequencies, the phases of brain waves (their times of peaking and troughing) all over the brain begin to operate in synchrony. This type of synchronization is considered crucial for achieving heightened awareness. The gamma state is even believed to cause changes in the brain’s synapses – the junctions over which electrical impulses leap to send a message to a neuron, muscle or gland.

That the monks could achieve this state so rapidly suggested that their neural processing had been permanently altered by years of intensive meditation. Although the monks were middle-aged, their brain waves were far more coherent and organized than those of the robust young controls.

Similar types of effects have been recorded during prayer. A study monitoring the brain waves of six Protestants during prayer found an increase in brain-wave speed during moments of the most intense concentration.

Altruism and heightened perception

Most research on meditation has concerned the type that focuses on one particular stimulus, such as the breath or a sound, like a mantra. In Davidson’s study, the monks concentrated on having a sense of compassion for all living things.

It may be that, like our Intention Experiments, which always have an altruistic purpose, compassionate intention produces thoughts that send the brain soaring into a supercharged state of heightened perception.

The heightened state also produced permanent emotional improvement, by activating the left anterior portion of the brain – the portion most associated with joy. The monks had conditioned their brains to tune into happiness most of the time, and we’ve discovered that participants of our Intention Experiments also experience a sense of ecstasy from being part of something bigger than themselves.

Davidson’s results offer new evidence that the brain continues to revise itself throughout life, depending on the nature of its thoughts. Certain sustained thoughts even produce measurable physical differences and change its structure.

“A brain region that controls the movement of a violinist’s fingers becomes progressively larger with mastery of the instrument. A similar process appears to happen when we meditate,’ Davidson wrote in an article in Scientific American.

Although most scientists believe that the brain, like a hardwired computer, creates thoughts, this research suggests the opposite. Form follows function; consciousness helps to form the brain, depending on what it is that you are thinking. And thinking altruistic thoughts, as we do with our Intention Experiments, sends a brain soaring into hyperspace.

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Why wait any longer when you’ve already been waiting your entire life?

Top usercarttagbubblemagnifiercrosschevron-down