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Elizabeth Dygert

on 16 March 2015

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Transcript of Meditation

Physiological Understanding of Meditation
The Brain
Although there are many types of meditation, they are oftentimes broken down into two categories: directive and non-directive
In a study by Jian Xu M.D, a researcher at the department of circulation and medical imaging at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted a study that used an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine to examine brain activity during the two different types of meditation
Activity was highest in the brain when the participant’s thoughts wandered freely on their own (non directive)
The study concluded that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions
Neuroscience and Brain Chemistry
What are some thoughts that FILL your day? Create a list of 10 things that are on your mind right now?
“Am I getting sick?”
“Will she let us out early tonight?”
“Did I pay the mortgage”
Understanding Meditation
Liz DeLandsheer
Zach Danko
Tiffany Sundblad

In order to fully understand meditation, it is important to examine the physiological changes that occur
The relationship between the nervous systems of the body and stress/emotional stress is a key component of the meditation process physiologically
Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is comprised of two branches that often do not work together
The two branches of the ANS are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)
The Sympathetic Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system controls the body's unconscious actions
Fight or Flight?
The SNS is best known for its impact on an individuals stress response
Stress networks activate when there is a real or imagined threat. This heightened autonomic arousal results in feelings of anxiety, fear, and alarm which triggers individuals to respond in a way to reduce the stress activity
The SNS also helps in the function of most major organs including the heart
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
The PNS is primarily responsible for the relaxation of the body and digestive process.
Also plays a role in sexual arousal, urination, salivation, etc.
The PNS also lowers heart, metabolic, and breathing rates!
What Does This All Mean!?
Knowing that the PNS is activated when intentionally attempting to achieve a relaxed state (which results in a drop in heart, metabolic, and breathing rates) favors the PNS and counteracts activation of the SNS (fight or flight)
By consistently achieving a relaxed state, this can limit the damage that is induced by frequent activations of the sympathetic nervous system (as we know stress and anxiety is not healthy for your body so by limiting the activation of these physiological changes can be extremely beneficial)
Although the study of neurophysiological changes in the brain during meditation is in still in many ways in its infancy stages, research has derived many positive results and conclusions.
How does this work!?
Using neuroimaging and electroencephalography (EEG), studies have found that individuals with the ability to practice mindfulness meditation show less emotional reactivity in the midbrain which is likely due to an enhanced ability to engage the prefrontal cortex (Primary functions of the prefrontal cortex involve planning a person's response to complex and difficult problems. Imaging studies have demonstrated changes in the PFC, which is associated with attention, concentration, and emotion regulation, in those with greater (existing) mindfulness skills,
When the brain is not engaged in an externally defined task, imagining studies show that meditation and mind wandering are related to the default mode network which consists of medial brain structures (the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, the posterior cingulate/retrosplenial cortex, the inferior parietal lobe, the lateral temporal cortex, the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, and the hippocampal formation)
Examining These Effects
Hypothesized that accepting the spontaneous flow of thoughts, images, sensations, memories, and emotions as part of meditation, without any emphasis on reducing, monitoring, evaluating or directly relating to it, would increase mind wandering and activation of the default mode network, compared to practicing with more emphasis on control and a concentrative focus of attention.
Concentrative mediation had less effect on the default mode network which is consistent with the assumption that “mind-wandering” increases activity in the default mode network.
Why is all of this Important?
It is widely accepted that brains regions such as the Prefrontal cortex, limbic system, amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis are associated with depression and anxiety.
In the examples you listed, ask yourself if you were you thinking in the

past, present,


What is Mindfulness?
Seek pleasure; avoiding pain is our survival instinct and makes it hard for us just to be present.

Review the last 24 hours. How many moments were you truly content and able appreciate the moment?

Many of us fall into these behaviors:
worrying about the future
sad about the past
feel guilty for what we should be doing, etc.

Rather than being in the moment- your mind is somewhere else. Either in the future or in the past.
Where is your mind?
Past, Present or Future?
Understanding Mindfulness
-it is an
toward an experience, or a way of relating to life that holds the promise of both alleviating our suffering and making our lives rich and meaningful.
It does this by attuning us to a
experience giving us direct insight into how our minds create unnecessary anguish.

...to understand, accept, and observe exactly how we create our own distress; mindfulness practice can teach us how

to let go
of painful mental habits and replace them with more useable ones.
...to provide insight into what causes our
and offer effective ways to alleviate it by creating new habits.
...to develop awareness in the present experience with acceptance.
...to help attune us and make us feel more connected to: ______
Mindfulness practice can help bring us back to the relative safety of the present moment whether it be positive or negative.
What are some examples of when you can be "in the moment?"
How can it help us?
Mindfulness is not...

- Various cultures have developed meditative practices that helps to “clear the mind”. However, mindfulness is not “clearing the mind”.

- Escaping from difficult emotions or avoiding pain.

- Not becoming emotionless

-Not seeking bliss but it can help us accept all of our experiences instead of clinging to pleasant ones.

-Not escaping pain- embrace it which can lessen suffering

-Not converting to a new religion. It’s derived from Buddhism.
“the one who is awake”.
It’s an overarching principal that by seeing things as they are, and learning to accept them, we can experience well-being knows no bounds.

All it takes is 10 minutes
How to meditate?
Focus, Calm, Clarity

Developing concentration is an important part of 3 forms of mindfulness meditation:
informal practice- walking, nature, breathing, eating, showering meditations
formal practice- body scan, "mountain meditation"- anxiety/ fear

Until we have learned how to focus the mind, it is very difficult to be really aware of our experience. And if we are not aware of our experience from moment to moment it is very difficult to gain
into and interrupt the
mental habits
that create suffering

Concentration is the foundation of mindfulness.

Learning to concentrate is like focusing the mind’s lens- it allows us to see clearly whatever we turn our attention to at that moment.

1. We chose an object of attention

2. Every time we notice that the mind has wandered from that object, we gently bring it back.

The object we choose can be early anything that can be perceived:

a visual object
a sound
a sensation
an image
a sound in our mind (a repeated phrase)
a spoken word (chanting).


“Tuning a classical instrument”
- If we try too hard and our overly strict with ourselves, we quickly get confused and can’t concentrate. If we are too relaxed we don’t put in enough effort. Practice is the only way to find the right balance.

Put more effort into attending to the sensations in the moment rather than racing/ distracting thoughts. “If you have a mind it is going to wander”

“All things must pass”
"Embrace not resist the inevitable ups and downs of life- mindfulness can equip us to handle our human predicament."
Working with Anxiety:

- psychological, cognitive, behavioral components.

worrying about the future and learning to let go and not fight it (negative reinforcement)

thoughts trigger our fight-or-flight system.

informal practices help us pay attention to distorted thoughts

"what we resist persists"
- when we try to push the uncomfortable away, out of awareness we become anxious.

signal anxiety (Freud) or "triggers"

avoiding unpleasant experiences. What do we do?

mindfulness is an ancient form of exposure therapy-

Working with Trauma:
Trauma can allow you to disconnect with yourself- feelings of numbness, disassociate from self and emotions as a way to cope.
Mindfulness techniques can help to reconnect a client with themselves again.
Can you think of a situation that often causes anxiety or stress? Now picture this anxiety or stress being absent during the situation. How would your life be different?
 Uses a mantra or a minimal amount of Sanskrit used to help with focus.
Seated meditation
Famous People: The Beatles, Katy Perry, Russell Brand

Kundalini Yoga
 Techniques may vary.
Practical tools help to support the mind, and guide the body through the use of
breath, mantra, mudra (hand position), and focus.
The founder also passed on meditations for particular applications.
Meditations focus on reducing stress, work on addictions, and increase vitality.
These meditations often require a teacher since the reason for meditating may vary person to person.
Famous practitioners: Sting and Jennifer Aniston

Five Types of Meditation Cont’d:

Rooted in Buddhism.
Insight is gained via the breath and mind.
Observation of breath is crucial in this form of meditation.
Sutras (Buddhist teachings)
Taught through interaction with a teacher.
Practitioners: Dalai Lama
Famous People: Richard Gere

Five Types of Meditation Cont’d:

Reduces anxiety (Girodo, et al.)

Specific phobias such as enclosed spaces, examinations, being alone, heart attack (Boudreau et al.)

Drug and alcohol abuse may be reduced (Shafii, et al.)

Hospitalized psychiatric patients can benefit from daily meditation (Glueck & Stroebel, 1978).

Clinical Studies

Characteristics of Meditation


Primordial Sound Meditation
Performed in a seated position. The individual repeats a mantra, or word or sound, in order to bring their mind to a deeper level of awareness. This mantra puts less emphasis on intellectual side of the brain.

Famous People: Lady Gaga

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Rapidly growing in the area of counseling. Over 200 medical centers, hospitals, and clinics utilizing this form of meditation. The mind is to focus on the inhalation and exhalation and doing a full body scan to notice any areas of tension. The attention focuses on awareness of your whole body starting at your feet and working your way upward throughout the entire body.

Famous Practitioners: Jon Kabat-Zinn

Five Types of Meditation

Meditation helps to increase acceptance of feelings and emotions without judgment. Also meditation teaches you to pay attention sensations, thoughts, and impulsivities.

Acknowledge the thought without judgment

Helps us to have mindful observation and learn to recognize when we avoid something.

Learn to recognize thoughts as just thoughts. Defusion occurs instead of fusion. Observing thoughts without judging them.

Meditation  Mindfulness  Peace

Video (How to meditate?)

Trying to reach nirvana
Getting into an altered state of mind
Attempting not to think at all

What Meditation IS
To become conscious of and familiar with inner life.
Train attention in order to bring thoughts under voluntary control.
Progressive heightening of awareness.
Deepens the ability to live a moment to moment lifestyle.
What Meditation is NOT

Teachers & Students
Cleanliness of Feet
Orientation, 45 minutes

Rituals: verbalizing taking refuge
in Buddha and drums played.
20 minutes of meditation
10 minutes of walking
20 minutes of meditation
Q & A

Zen Meditation Center

Focus on one thing, the breath.
Thoughts must be understood for what they really are and meditation helps bring clarity to an individual.
Instead of discriminating thoughts, people learn to entertain the thought as a means of discovering new purpose and direction.
Revealing levels below our conscious awareness.
Helps to slow our mind down and enter into a calm state of mind rather than impulsive with our emotions.
State of just sitting and being present, teaches people to wait with deep patience, without expectation and without disturbance.
Unattached to outcome.
Teaches how to help a client become mindful


Benson, H. Yoga for drug abuse. New England Journal of Medicine, 1969, 281, 1133.
Benson, H. & Wallace, R.K. Decreased drug abuse with transcendental medication: A study of 1862 subjects. In D.J.D. Zanafonetis (Ed.). Drug abuse proceedings of the International Conference. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1972.
Boudreau, L. Transcendental meditation and yoga as reciprocal, inhibitors. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 1972, 3, 97-98.
The Chopra Center. Retrieved from www.chopra.com
French & Tupin, J.P., Therapeutic application of a simple relaxation method. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1974, 28, 282-287.
Edenfield, T. M., & Saeed, S. A. (2012). An update on mindfulness meditation as a self-help treatment for anxiety and depression. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 5, 131–141. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S34937
Girodo, M. Yoga meditation and flooding in the treatment of anxiety neurosis. Journal of Behavior therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 1974, 5, 157-160.
Glueck, B.C., & Stroebel, C.F. Meditation in the treatment of psychiatric illness. In A. Sugarman & R. Tarter (Eds.), Expanding dimensions of consciouness. New York: Springer, 1978.
Kalvin, S. The meaning of meditation and it’s purposes. Retrieved from calmawareness.com
eShafii, M., Lavel, R., & Jaffe, T. Meditation and the prevention of alcohol abuse. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1975, 9, 134-138.
Shapiro, D.H. Zen meditation and behavioral self-control strategies applied to a case of generalized anxiety. Psychologia, 1976, 9, 134-138).
Siegel, R.D. (2010) The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. New
York, New York: The Guilford Press.
Shapiro, D.H., & Zifferblatt, S. Zen meditation and behavioral self-control: Similarities, differences, and clinical applications. American Psychologist, 1976, 31, 519-532.



History of Meditation
Psychological Benefits
How to Meditate
Zen Center
Informal Practice
Informal mindful
practice could be involved during your
morning routine:
brushing your teeth
pay attention to the physical motions involved and the taste of the toothpaste.
, try to focus on the intense sensual experience of thousands of droplets striking your body and feeling the soap in your hands.
when you are
getting dressed,
notice the
and textures

of your clothes.
Using Mindfulness Meditation in Counseling
Formal Practice
"Mountain Meditation"
Focus the Lens
Full transcript