Many of my clients who are new to meditation tell me that the hardest part of the practice for them is being able to successfully “shut down” competing thoughts, to-do lists, etc.
They are hardly alone. In fact, that is one of the most common stumbling blocks for meditators—new or experienced. But when we are successful at quieting our minds, the neurophysiology is real.
Andrew Newberg, professor and director of research for the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia, demonstrates this point. This picture shows the brain of a Tibetan Buddhist meditator. When his brain is in “motion,” blood flow is increased. This is indicated by red areas in the image on the left.
But the image on the right supports Newberg’s hypothesis that this Buddhist meditator has successfully blocked out sensory and cognitive stimuli. You will see that there is less red (blood flow) to the parietal lobe, which is the part of our brain that gives us a sense of time and space. This meditator is “in the zone.”
In short: this is what your brain looks like on meditation.
If you think that a scan of your brain during meditation would show more red than yellow, please contact me. I struggled with that myself. But I can share with you tips and techniques to help you block out the noise so you, too, can maximize the benefits of meditation in your life.