As a mindfulness practitioner myself, I’ve often struggled to articulate the mechanisms through which meditation might actually work, mainly because there hasn’t been a plethora of scientific literature on this subject. But that might be about to change.
Rick Nauert, in his recent article on Psych Central entitled ‘Controlling Brain Waves May Be Key to Meditation’s Benefits‘ reports on a paper published by Brown University researchers in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Nauert made the following observations: ‘…….researchers said that by learning to control their focus on the present somatic moment, mindfulness meditators develop a more sensitive “volume knob” for controlling spatially specific, localized sensory cortical alpha rhythms’.
He carried on to conclude that: ‘efficient modulation of cortical alpha rhythms in turn enables optimal filtering of sensory information. Meditators learn not only to control what specific body sensations they pay attention to, but also how to regulate attention so that it does not become biased toward negative physical sensations such as chronic pain’.
The authors have suggested the framework around which further empirical research can be undertaken; to get substantive answers will require further hypothesis testing and much reflection. So we may not know for some time what the exact mechanisms look like, but we can be assured that the scientific community is on the right tracks to formulate an answer.
You can read Nauert’s full article here.