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What Happens To Your Brain When You Meditate? A Neuroscientist Explains

Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Conscious Living, Meditation with 1 Comment

Joe Martino | Wakingtimes 

Meditation is becoming very popular lately. Perhaps it’s the anecdotal evidence friends are sharing with each other or the fact that more and more science is coming out to confirm the benefits of meditation that it’s encouraging people to take up the practice. Meditation has shown to decrease stress, increase happiness,quality of life, increase gray matter in the brain, making people more compassionate, lowering blood pressure, increasing memory and more. A great series of benefits from such a peaceful practice.


Meditation can be discouraging at times. It’s not easy to calm your mind, stop the thoughts and get into a space that is quiet. Since many of us, especially in western culture, are never taught to explore this practice at a young age it can be even harder to get  into a quiet meditative space realizing that we are not our thoughts or mind. If you are discouraged  you can get some tips here. If you are looking for some great ways to get into meditation, you can check these out.

What Happens When You Meditate?

A group of Harvard neuroscientists came together to study the benefits of meditation on the brain and how it affects mindfulness. Sara Lazar enrolled her team of 16 subjects  in a 8 week mindfulness program to see if meditation, over a short period of time, could begin to create changes in lifestyle and the brain.

The subjects were given a 45 minute guided mindfulness exercise to be used daily and they were encouraged to do various daily activities with as much mindfulness as possible. On average the subjects performed about 27 minutes of mindfulness each day. The results of this study is discussed below.

Britta Hölzel, the lead author on the paper says, “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”

One of the biggest things that happens to our brains when we meditate is that it stops processing so much information. Beta waves generally indicate a processing of information. When beta waves are decreased, we see a decrease in information processed. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI) we can see how and where beta waves are decreasing the most. This is indicated by the color changes in the image below.

meditation (1)

Taking things a little deeper, the following areas of the brain were affected by meditation in different ways.

Frontal lobe
This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline.

Parietal lobe
This part of the brain processes sensory information about the surrounding world, orienting you in time and space. During meditation, activity in the parietal lobe slows down.

Thalamus
The gatekeeper for the senses, this organ focuses your attention by funneling some sensory data deeper into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle.

Reticular formation
As the brain’s sentry, this structure receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert, ready to respond. Meditating dials back the arousal signal.

“This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.” Sarah Lazar Ph.D., the study’s senior author.”

The video below is a presentation from neuroscientist Sara Lazar about how meditation affects your brain.

Societal Benefits For The Bigger Picture

When we begin to consider the benefits of meditation we can start to imagine how different our world might look if everyone, or even the majority of people began practicing meditation more regularly. Could an increase in mindfulness, happiness, care, and empathy for others make an impact on our world? How about reduced stress and better memory? As opposed to many of the practices we do in our society today, drinking, smoking, drug use, pharmaceuticals for EVERYTHING, television, which are all seen as generally acceptable, imagine if a portion of the time spent doing things destructive to our body and mind was replaced with meditation instead. What might the outcome look like?

Certainly some interesting things to ponder when you realize that many of the issues we see today in our world on a daily basis stem from a lack of mindfulness and a take over of egoic individuality where we lose sight of how our actions might affect others or how we can get caught up in taking things personally. For example, studies have shown that meditation makes people connect better with others and feel more compassionate towards them. Given how many of our daily and worldly challenges stem from seeing others as a problem to our own lives, isn’t it fair to say that suddenly seeing beyond these perceived perceptions and  gaining a connection to others could instead create a more peaceful and joyous reality?

I feel that many of our worlds problems are not necessarily due to the structures around us presenting limitations but because the consciousness or mindset that acts as the foundation for our world is creating this experience. To change our world from the source, a change in mindset (consciousness or world view) would trigger a different understanding of how we could live and create our world. Instead of simply operating from belief and programming as we do today, we could strip that away and create from a space connected with our hearts and true selves, something I believe would drastically change our world.

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  1. cliffzimmerman@soundtherapycd.com' Cliff Zimmerman says:

    United States Patent: 8343030

    https://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8343030.PN.&OS=PN/8343030&RS=PN/8343030

    My name is Cliff Zimmerman. I’m 60 years old, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I now live in Atlanta. My degrees are in both Music Education and Early Childhood Education. Here is why I am contacting you…

    I have spent the last eight years developing a breakthrough technology in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. A Neuro-Vibrational Processor, the U.S. Patented Sound Therapy CD is the first – and only – technology to apply Deep Brain Stimulation via Prolonged Sympathetic Resonance Vibration. Utilizing the center’s own calibrated medical equipment, in 2008, I conducted an extremely successful clinical trial (non IRB approved), for Hypertension, at Emory Johns Creek Hospital. Every single test-subject’s blood pressure was lowered, some by as much as 49 points. The compelling factor was that, when the systolic number needed adjusting – whether an increase or decrease – but the diastolic number did not, that is exactly what happened, the same for the reverse. This is because of the direct cause-and-effect on the NTS (Nucleus Tractus Solitarius). Data and details form this trial are available upon request.

    Please be assured that this is not any type of “new age” nonsense, it is a completely unique and totally science-based, the only technology that has ever utilized specific frequencies that are purposely all mathematically divisible by each other, resulting in the only technology ever to receive a U.S. Patent which employs “Prolonged Sympathetic Resonance Vibration.” The US Patent is titled “Harmonic and Overtone Audio Therapy For Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) And Regulated Emotional and Psychological Disorders.” The result is the most optimum form of Neuro-Plasticity, the brain’s ability to literally heal itself. This has never been tested on the human brain before. By employing “The Scientific Method,” (double-blind studies, placebo, control-group studies, etc.), and utilizing fMRIs, PET scans, blood and chemical analysis, etc., the goal is to prove its scientific and medical efficacy. Some of these benefits will include – but are not in any way necessarily limited to – increases in endorphin levels, such as Serotonin, Dopamine and Norepinephrine, as well as decreases in Cortisol and ACTH levels. The ultimate goal, “The Holy Grail,” so to speak, is to stimulate and thereby generate tremendous improvement in the Autistic brain’s limbic system, enough to process the electrical currents between the brain’s synapses properly, resulting in a dramatic improvement in alleviating symptomatic Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is because of the effect that it has on the brain’s Neuro-Transmitters, on a sub-atomic level, because all matter is composed of quarks, strings, and ultimately, vibration, thus making this technology the vibration equivalent of Higgs Boson, otherwise known as “The God Particle.”

    Please understand, on so many technical levels, the magnitude and significance of this historic recording, the first and only one of its kind in existence. Since 1857 (155 years), when Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautograph – the first device that could record sound waves as they passed through the air – there has never been a recording as “technically pure” as The Sound Therapy CD. The frequencies are accurate to within five decimal places. I have US Trademarked the phrase: “The Perfect Recording Of The Perfect Sound,” because that is, in fact, exactly what has transpired. Second, the pure frequencies from absolutely pitch-perfect tuning forks are incorporated into a tuning known as “Justified” or “Justification” tuning, which, for the very first time in audio and recording history, enables a pure Perfect 5th (P5), also known as an “Open 5th,” in the exact and precise ratio that Pythagoras formulated: [3 to 2] or [1.5 to 1]. This is uncommon and rare in Western Music and Western Civilization, which utilizes “Tempered” Tuning, in which the polar opposite is true, the frequencies are specifically not mathematically divisible. Therefore, the concept and process which I have the US Patent for, which utilizes Sympathetic Resonance Vibration, is not technically, mathematically or scientifically possible. Third, the correct terminology is actually “Prolonged Sympathetic Resonance Vibration.” This is because normally, when a tuning fork vibrates, the frequencies will continue to vibrate for 2-3 minutes. It has taken over eight years, and 15,000 hours, in order to technically, scientifically and mathematically, stretch those frequencies into an entire 60-minute (two 30-minute tracks), recording. In this process, the “integrity” of the harmonics and the overtones – wherein lies the therapeutically medical value – has been maintained. Again, this has never even been attempted before, let alone successfully accomplished, in the entire history of recording and audio-engineering. This is a monumental technical achievement, and these are the specific resulting patented scientific and technical reasons for the many therapeutic benefits consequently derived upon the human brain. This is the only recording which, through this patented process, achieves maximum Neuro-Plasticity, for the very first time. The resulting benefits for maximum Neuro Health are nothing short of astonishing for the Autistic brain.

    I am the Owner, Chairman and CEO of Sound Therapy International LLC. My web-site address is: https://www.SoundTherapyCD.comAlthough it reads “under construction,” scroll-down on that home page to see a picture of me with my daughter Farrah and some of the babies that I have worked with. On the upper left-hand corner, the following links are fully operational: (1) Clinical Data – my research. Please be advised that it is not written for the lay person. Also, please scroll-down to read my ‘Bio’. (2) Links & Literature – some newspaper Op-Ed articles that I have authored. (3) Contact Us – E.Mail.

    These 30-day “before-and-after” fMRI Neuro-Imaging brain scans that I am proposing will not involve typical high costs. For any individual/hospital/medical research facility wishing to be associated with this project, the benefits are extraordinary, because, together, we will be testing the most compelling, cutting-edge scientific technology available in the treatment against Autism Spectrum Disorder, Hypertension, Clinical Depression, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease as well as many other types of afflictions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The financial benefits for any such facility will prove to be more than worth any initial expense. Surely this deserves serious consideration. Perhaps you know, and/or may very well have access to, research facilities that I do not.

    I am represented by the law firm of Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer and Risley, here in Atlanta, my attorney is Dr. Christopher Linder. In addition, Sound Therapy International LLC’s in-house counsel is Rob Hassett, of Casey Gilson PC.

    I can be reached by E.Mail at: CliffZimmerman@SoundTherapyCD.com and by phone at: 770-369-5686. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time and your consideration. – Clifford N. Zimmerman

    From: s.adigeh@israeltrade.gov.il
    Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 01:56 PM
    To: cliffzimmerman@soundtherapycd.com
    Subject: RE: The Sound Therapy Technology For Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Dear Mr. Zimmerman,

    First of all, thank you very much for your help. I was in/out off the
    office because of a good reason. After 9 years living with only one
    child with Autism, we were blessed finally with twin boys by G”D. Both
    Mom and the babies are doing fine. We not only tried The Sound Therapy CD for my
    daughter, but also my wife listened in order to reduce her blood pressure. She had a
    complex pregnancy, diabetic and blood pressure which forced her to
    hospitalized for three weeks. She left last Friday the hospital and is now
    visiting them every day to feed them until they come home. They are over 4 lb.
    already and will stay for a couple of weeks in the hospital.

    My daughter is listening to The Sound Therapy CD regularly, twice a day. One of the observations that I noticed with her was, she now answers a phone call. A few days ago, she had a phone conversation with her cousin who lives in NY. She has had very interesting conversations, she answered all of the questions about her, her Mom, and her twin brothers. Before, she was not interested, or did not understand a phone conversation. She used to speak while the other person spoke, or did not respond at all to any questions. She picks-up the headphones and the CD when it is time to listen and asks me to listen with her. I will be in touch with you to update her progress.

    Regards,
    Serkalem

    The technology developed, employed and utilized in the making of The Sound Therapy CD, specifically as it relates to my application for US Patent:

    HARMONIC AND OVERTONE AUDIO THERAPY FOR AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD) AND REGULATED EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS

    is proprietary, specific, and unique in its creation. It is the only existing audio technology, which, through Deep Brain Stimulation/Neuro Vibration Processing – specifically and therapeutically combines: (1) Sympathetic Resonance (2) Prolonged Sympathetic Resonance, and (3) Justified/Justification Tuning into a Complex Sound Bath Format, which, because of the limitations of any such existing technology, has previously been unknown.

    Again, here is the link to the United States Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO) web-site, where you can access my patent:
    https://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair.
    In order to access the patent application, enter application number 11/553,129. The actual U.S. Patent # is 8,343,030

    The objections cited in Kearby, Et Al, demonstrate a lack of understanding of these terms and concepts, specifically in its misrepresentations, in that they are, at best, misunderstood, at worse, not even relevant.

    Acoustics 101

    Any natural/acoustic sound can be described as a combination of sine waves. These “pure” tones never show-up naturally by themselves; instead, they are always combined in a more or less well defined way to form even the simplest sound. Specifically, it is the manner of their distribution in the sound that forms the “color” of that sound, technically known as the “timbre”. This is the sole feature that is the hallmark of the frequencies which differentiate the sound of an acoustic versus an electronic frequency.

    Terminology:

    A partial is any of the sine waves by which a complex tone is described.

    A harmonic (or a harmonic partial), is any of a set of partials that are whole number multiples of a common fundamental frequency. This set includes the fundamental, which is a whole number multiple of itself (1 times itself).

    An overtone is any partial, except the lowest. This concept has no special meaning other than to exclude the fundamental, and can unfortunately lead to numbering confusion when comparing overtones to partials, i.e., the first overtone is the second partial.

    *The terms harmonic, overtone and partial are used with wildly varying degrees of precision in audio terminology. For instance you will frequently see harmonics described/defined as overtones, and vice versa. In addition, you will see the term partial applied in place of the term harmonic, which, although it appears to be correct, is imprecise and non-edifying.

    Electronic sounds are capable of playing pure frequencies, but with a crucial and critical difference, in that the overtones usually combine frequencies into more complex tones to simulate other instruments, thus, by definition, non-acoustic, thereby omitting the therapeutic properties inherent in the technology that I have demonstrated.

    The term “Gain” is defined as a measure of the reinforcement of any feedback system. It is the ratio of the intensity – or magnitude – of the output of any given system to its input, referring to a variety of units of measurements. In natural/acoustic reverberation, the “input” (i.e., the frequencies from a tuning fork), are significantly louder than the “output” (the echo). Thus, the system is inherently one of diminishing returns, and eventually fades into silence. Conversely, with electronically generated frequencies, by definition a feedback system with increasing gain, each subsequent output is increased over the previous, thus eventually becoming increasingly unstable. Therefore, when electronic frequencies are reproduced, the harmonics and overtones essentially become fundamentals (see Terminology: harmonic, above), which generate new harmonics and overtones, with characteristics that are inherent not of the original sound, but of the playback system itself.

    In Conclusion:

    Any kind of noise – including, but not necessarily limited to, electronic frequencies – in the brain is negative. If only people were conscious as to just how inadvertently counter-productive it is to the overall health of the brain. It represents the complete antithesis of sustained healthy growth and Neuro-Plasticity, the brain’s ability to heal itself.

    Kindly let me know if you have the time and the inclination to be a catalyst for this project.

    The Recording Process:

    This is the first time in the entire 155 year history of audio engineering that a recording of this accuracy, magnitude and significance has ever been achieved, in order to implement specific time alignments and measurements, including the harmonic and overtone projections of the audio waveforms. Four dozen (48) digital oscillators were employed in order to morph and tune the band-pass filters, which are combined with the 12-band full-parametric High Q Equalizers and then fed into the digital diodes. This models the saturation of the tube phenomena, thus creating more dense harmonics and overtones. The ideal net result, optimum sustained sympathetic resonance, is unlike anything ever previously heard by the human ear.

    The Recording Equipment:

    * Four Solid-State Microphones: (1) AKG C414 B-XL ll (2) AKG C414 Limited Edition (3) AKG C1000 S (4) dbx RTA Measurement.

    * One Vacuum-Tube Microphone: Neumann U-87.

    * Reflexion Filters: SE Electronics.

    * Sound Diffusion: Primacoustic.

    * Microphone Preamp: Avalon Design Pure Class A AD202.

    * Mastering Equalizers: Avalon Design AD2077 Dual Mono, Pure Class A.

    * Stereo Summing Amplifier: Tube-Tech SSA 2B.

    * Monitors: Genelec Digital Reference System 5.1.

    * Pro Tools HD Platform: 64-Bit 96khz Resolution, Hot-Swap Fiber Optics SCSl 10k rpm System Driver.

    HARMONIC AND OVERTONE AUDIO THERAPY FOR AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD) AND REGULATED EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS

    is proprietary, specific, and unique in its creation. It is the only existing audio technology, which, through Deep Brain Stimulation, specifically and therapeutically combines: (1) Sympathetic Resonance (2) Prolonged Sympathetic Resonance, and (3) Justified/Justification Tuning into a Complex Sound Bath Format, which, because of the limitations of any such existing technology, has previously been unknown.

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