Your Brain on Meditation

“People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing – and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.”

– Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert – Research psychologists from Harvard University

There is a website I enjoy a lot, a website that “exercises the brain.”  Lumiosity is a great website that “challenges your brain with scientifically designed training.”  I like to think of it as wasting time playing games that are somewhat useful and not just a total of a waste of time.  Recently they published an article that explains “Meditation’s Effects on Alpha Brain Waves.

“A new study out of Brown University has found that a form of mindfulness meditation known as MBSR may act as a “volume knob” for attention, changing brain wave patterns.  Originally developed by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is based on mindfulness meditation techniques that have been practiced in some form or another for over two millennia.”

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn.  And is a central tenet of the work being done at The University of Wisconsin by Dr. Richard Davidson that I have talked about a lot on my blog.

In the recent study discussed in the article on Luminosity, researchers examined how meditation affects Alpha Brain Waves, and how Alpha Waves affect cognition.

Alpha rhythms help filter irrelevant sensory inputs in the brain. Without proper filtering, the ability to carry out many basic cognitive operations can be crippled. This Brown University study is in line with other research on meditation, confirming previous findings that link enhanced attentional performance and fewer errors in tests of visual attention with meditation.

Yet another reason to meditate.  If I know it’s so good for me, then why is it so damned hard to sit down and sit quietly for only 10 minutes a day?!  I mean really!  Why is it so hard to commit to a such a simple discipline? A discipline that is simply asking me to sit down and not do anything for such a short time each day when I know for a fact it is so good for me?

For Christmas, I gave my sister Karin and I identical date books for 2014:  Live With Intention.  And Karin and I decided that we would set an individual intention together at the beginning of each month for the year.  So I have decided that my intention for March, 2014 is to meditate for at least 10 minutes everyday.  There, it’s in writing. (*My brain immediately said “Damn – March has 31 days too, why couldn’t you have made that your intention for February!)

I want to close with a great 10 minute TED Talk by Andy Puddicombe about meditation.  It comes from a fantastic TED Talk series:  4 scientific studies on how meditation can affect your heart, brain and creativity



I promise to let you know how I’m doing meditating everyday – And I’d love to hear about how any of you have the discipline to keep meditating.


Hard-Wired for Music

“We are hard-wired in the brain to love music.”

– Dr. Daniel Levitin

Last week after I posted The Power of Music, I had so many people email me and make comments regarding how important music is to them, that I decided to look into it further. And what I discovered was fascinating. Both Sharon Begley and Dr. Daniel Levitin have found that the brain is hard-wired for music. In an article for Newsweek, Sharon Begley says:

“Scientists are finding that the human brain is pre-wired for music. Could this sublime expression of culture be as much about biology as art?  . . . The temporal lobes of the brain, just behind the ears, act as the music center. When neurosurgeons tickle these regions with a probe, patients have been known to hear tunes so vividly that they ask, Why is there a phonograph in the operating room?”


Most of us would agree that music powerfully affects our emotions. In a new study using brain imaging, researchers have identified how music can cause emotion-related brain activity. I know that I definitely use music to enhance whatever emotion I am feeling – sad, soulful ballads when I’m feeling, well, sad and soulful; or music to change a mood – if I’m feeling blah and flat, I can put on some upbeat and snappy music to lift my mood and energize me; and nothing beats a bit of Marvin Gaye to create just the right mood for a romantic evening for me!

For this post I’m attaching two videos, one each from Dr. Daniel Levitin and Sharon Begley. There were so many choices on YouTube that I was hard pressed to choose only two.  I get so excited learning this stuff about the brain and I love to share it!

Dr. Daniel Levitin – author of “This is Your Brain on Music.”


Sharon Begley – co-author with Dr. Richard Davidson “The Emotional Life of Your Brain”


Please let me know your thoughts on these two videos, and I’d love to hear any stories you have about the role of music in your life.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.