Lao Tzu, a famous sixth century philosopher from China said: “Silence is a source of great strength.” There are many types of silence, for example, anger, grief, sadness, or confusion. The most comforting of course, is the silence of peace and calm. Silent meditation, the practice of observing your breath, thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the existing moment is one way to acquire calm. This ability helps prepare you for moments in life when you need to maintain focus despite tidal waves of emotions or difficult circumstances. Maintaining presence of mind under a variety of situations is very powerful and can be learned through practice.
There is a large body of research that correlates meditation with relief from stress, high blood pressure, and anxiety. So many of us spend time training our bodies. We go to the gym, play sports, and take classes. When we meditate, we condition our minds.
This month, the University of Oregon sent out a press release entitled, Chinese meditation IBMT found to boost brain connectivity – Eleven hours of training leads to positive changes based on brain imaging at the University of Oregon.
IMBT is “Integrative Body-Mind Training, a specific meditation and relaxation technique based on the Taoist and Confucian concepts of harmony with nature.” IBMT involves several body–mind techniques including: (i) body relaxation, (ii) breath adjustment, (iii) mental imagery, and (iv) mindfulness training, accompanied with selected music background.”
The experiments involved the use of brain-imaging equipment in the UO’s Robert and Beverly Lewis Center for Neuroimaging.
Diffusion tensor imaging (a type of magnetic imaging) allowed researchers to examine the fibers that connect regions of the brain before and after training the subjects in IMBT meditation. The strongest changes happened in the area of the brain that regulates emotions and behavior. The changes were observed only in those who practiced meditation and not in the control group. The changes began shortly after training and became clear by 11 hours of practice.
“The importance of our findings relates to the ability to make structural changes in a brain network related to self regulation,” said Posner, a University of Oregon psychologist who worked with vChinese researchers led by Yi-Yuan Tang of Dalian University of Technology. Last year, Posner received a National Medal of Science. He went on to add, “The pathway that has the largest change due to IBMT is one that previously was shown to relate to individual differences in the person’s ability to regulate conflict.”