With this 6th installment our documentary series about meditation and science comes to an end. BBC reporter Kathy has gone a long way looking into scientific research and studies and making her own personal experiences. She started her journey talking to monks in Nepal and ends her journey in the research labs of the West. All throughout her journey she has been searching for proof that meditation really is for everyone and that it can alter our brains positively, having particular effect on our emotional behaviours.
In part 6 Kathy talks to the scientists of The Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where they conducted a study with ordinary people (lawyers, street workers, doctors) who practised a form of breathing meditation for 35-40 minutes a day. With an MRI- scanner the scientists compared their brains with those of people who have never meditated. The result concluded that the part of the brain, which amongst other things processes our emotions, was significantly thicker for the people who meditated, even when this was just for a short time. The longer that people meditated, the thicker this part of the brain became.
This result reinforces what Kathy heard from the many people she met during her journey. All of them, from the monk Matthieu Richard to the western scientists told her that that meditation can effect the brain. Now she has found the proof that she has been looking for – that meditation can change our brain structure. With this thought the circle of her journey becomes complete; bringing East and West together. Kathy summarises that the scientific research into meditation is still in the early stages but already there has been some conclusive scientific proof for the beneficial effects of meditation. Also, the more mainstream neuro-scientists are starting to take notice of meditation and the positive effects it can have on people.
In the words of Kathy:
“If i could sit still for just 30 minutes a day and calm my mind it could help me with everything. Could help me think better, see things in perspective, even love better. But that is just my experience. But it helped ME.”
We hope that you enjoyed our series and you have gained more insight into meditation and the sense of wellbeing which it brings to people.
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