Benefits of Even Casual Meditation

In 2011, researchers from the University of Wisconsin studied a group of people who were not in the habit of meditating and instructed them in the following manner: relax with your eyes closed and focus on the flow of your breath at the tip of your nose; if a random thought arises, acknowledge the thought and then simply let it go by gently bringing your attention back to the flow of your breath. For fifteen minutes, the participants attempted to follow these guidelines. Then they were broken up into two groups: one group had the option of receiving nine thirty-minute sessions of meditation instruction over the course of five weeks, and the other group had that option at the conclusion of the experiment, but not before. At the end of the five weeks, everyone completed the earlier thought assignment a second time.

During each session, the researchers measured participants’ electroencephalographic (EEG) activity— a recording of electrical activity along the scalp—and what they found presents a tantalizing picture. Even such a short training period—participants averaged between five and sixteen minutes of training and practice a day—can cause changes at the neural level. The researchers were particularly interested in frontal EEG asymmetry, toward a pattern that has been associated with positive emotions (and that had been shown to follow seventy or more hours of training in mindfulness meditation techniques). While prior to training the two groups showed no differences, by the end of the study, those who had received additional training showed a leftward shift in asymmetry, which means a move toward a pattern that has been associated with positive and approach-oriented emotional states—such states as have been linked repeatedly to increased creativity and imaginative capacity.

What does that mean? First, unlike past studies of meditation that asked for a very real input of time and energy, this experiment did not require extensive resource commitment, and yet it still showed striking neural results. Moreover, the training provided was extremely flexible: people could choose when they would want to receive instruction and when they would want to practice. And, perhaps more important, participants reported a spike in spontaneous passive practice, when, without a conscious decision to meditate, they found themselves in unrelated situations thinking along the lines of the instructions they had been provided.


Even introductory mediation pushed practitioners into the left-brain(?) and positive/approach-oriented emotional states.

Folksonomies: science meditation

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Meditation (0.966140): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Electroencephalography (0.614756): dbpedia | freebase | yago
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Emotion (0.568553): dbpedia | freebase
Binaural beats (0.506696): dbpedia | freebase
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Buddhist meditation (0.457059): dbpedia | freebase

 Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Konnikova , Maria (2013-01-03), Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Viking Adult, Retrieved on 2013-03-21
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: psychology mindfulness


    17 APR 2011

     Science and Meditation

    Empirical evidence concerning meditation.
    Folksonomies: science meditation
    Folksonomies: science meditation