Study: Zen Meditation Really Does Clear the Mind

By | September 4, 2008

The seemingly nonsensical Zen practice of “thinking about not thinking” could help free the mind of distractions, new brain scans reveal.

This suggests Zen meditation could help treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (so-called ADD or ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, major depression and other disorders marked by distracting thoughts.

In the last decade, there has been a resurgence of scientific research into meditation, due in part to the wide availability and increasing sophistication of brain-scanning techniques. For instance, scientists recently found that months of intense training in meditation can sharpen a person’s brain enough to help them notice details they might otherwise miss.

“It is important that this type of research be conducted with high scientific standards because it carries a long-standing stigma – perhaps well-deserved? – of being wishy-washy,” said researcher Giuseppe Pagnoni, a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta. “Constructive skepticism should always be welcomed as a great sparring partner.” Pagnoni and his colleagues investigated Zen meditation, which Pagnoni himself has practiced while studying for his doctorate in Italy. …

Their scans revealed that Zen training led to different activity in a set of brain regions known as the “default network,” which is linked with spontaneous bursts of thought and wandering minds. After volunteers experienced in Zen were distracted by the computer, their brains returned faster to how they were before the interruption than novice brains did. This effect was especially striking in the angular gyrus, a brain region important for processing language.

“The regular practice of meditation may enhance the capacity to limit the influence of distracting thoughts,” Pagnoni said. – yahoonews

I am about to begin a several week meditation group.

2 thoughts on “Study: Zen Meditation Really Does Clear the Mind

  1. Patrick

    Awesome! Good luck, Xeno. You know, yoga has been one of the best things to ever enter into my life. I wish you all the best.

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