We will see how it is possible to have a calm brain, we will show the scientific evidence of inner silence and we will see what its benefits are.
For about 50 years in neuroscience we have known that our brain does not stop Does not stop during the day and does not stop at night But when we are normally in any activity that we are executing a task For example we are talking about we are Reading We are cooking Well, our brain areas are involved in that particular task
But what happens when we do nothing What happens when we don't give the brain any instruction to do anything What was discovered at the scientific level At the University of Washington in the year 1975 it was that our brain has a huge private life and so it was called Our neurons our different areas of the brain are in one constant Activity Biochemical activity does not stop occurring on the Brain So that had a lot of implications for neuroscience because It meant that our brain Has a spontaneous activity that our brain when we think we are doing nothing is doing a lot of things
things But above all it is especially relevant for We why It has been seen that the more activity we have in the brain the more active that life is Spontaneous activity of our brain, the worse we feel The mental hustle and bustle of not being able to do nothing It is synonymous with dissatisfaction discomfort of neuronal digression of feeling busy then since about about 30 years, neuroscience has been trying to see what can be done to that our brain when we are not executing any task rests What is known as the neuronal silence The neuronal calm This in addition to the implications it has for psychology and especially for the neuroscience of well-being
has clinical implications that are very important For example, it's been related that the more activity Let's have By default the more basal activity our brain has, the more probability we have of develop neurodegenerative diseases People with early stages of Alzheimer's disease It has been seen that they have brains that are in At constant activity That is to say they have little neuronal silence and this is one of the reasons why the neuroscience of meditation has flourished at the academic level
Why Why meditation produces what we call neuronal silence it has been seen to scientific level that people who practice meditation on a regular basis Their brains have what we know as that calmness Neuronal What does this mean It means that when we are not involved for example in reading In the business of our daily life Our neurons are more or less silent We do not say that he alone exists It has some activity but that activity is How could it be A calm sea This is how we are expected to have A brain of a A person who is calm Who has therefore a level of adequate welfare But what would the brain of a Person who has A high dose of digression mental What is also called wandering Mental Means that the activity Of the neurons would be a very rough sea with a lot of swell This swell is related to the amount of biochemical and biophysical activity of our brain
With a feeling of dissatisfaction With a feeling of unhappiness This is one of the discoveries that was thus more notorious and maybe for the article more Relevant that opened the doors from academic research to the neuroscience of meditation An article that was published in the University of From Boston with Professor Jackson Briwer in the lead That showed that people who practice Meditation on a regular basis Have a level of calm Mental and calm Neuronal much more Under i
when these people In their day to day life They are not executing any task Their brain could be likened to a sea Which is calm Technically speaking the brain of people who regularly practice meditation have a default network level Much lower That is to say When they are performing a task, they are performing it and the areas of the brain that are engaged in it They are performing that task But when they are not performing any task their brain goes into a quiescent state and here it has been very interesting from the scientific point of view to study what the mechanisms are Neuronal mechanisms that lead to this What happens in the brains of people who meditate Then three branches have been opened Within the world of neuroscience of the Meditation And we could classify them in that the neuroscience of meditation studies tension It studies the regulation of emotions And studies the perspective we have of ourselves
As far as the neuroscience of meditation is concerned in the attention in particular What neuroscience has seen is that practicing meditation Above all Reinforce An area of the brain that's over here not in the cortex Pre frontal Here as if to say under the forehead And it has been seen that this part Of the brain is especially reinforced That is to say What we make that part much more Active At biochemical hemodynamic level Also at biophysical level More electro fields are generated magnetic fields in that area And this was a result a result that was very interesting for the neuroscience world
And why Why the frontal cortex is the crown jewel, so to speak
It is the last part to develop in evolution
of the brain And so it has always been related to activities as complex as Guiding our behavior, inhibiting us from doing one thing, planning to do something else
have A possession of what is the mind to have guide it attention Attention closely related to Memory And here we should mention a phrase of William James that seems to me to be the one that best sums it up What is attention He said that attention is controlling the mind owning the mind then to study to have a technique That allows us to control the prefrontal cortex because it's a technique that for neuroscience was absolutely desirable At the psychological level and at the clinical level then what does the Meditation Or the neuronal mechanism that has been seen that is involved in the regulation of attention is that it is part of the prefrontal cortex is strengthened When we are attending to something you are attending are you Listening My voice right now there is a part that is coordinating so to speak as if it were the conductor of the orchestra
This part right here is the one that is Making it so that I can Holding My attention And sustaining the attention is one of the most complex processes What's in our in our mind for the psychology that I may be paying attention to something but that the that I keep it there Why Why our brain is absolutely completely seduced by distractions constantly that is it loves to go after a stimulus that it has seen that is novel something that moves stimuli External interferences It seduces us very easily But above all what seduces our brain are the interferences Inside I mean itches it hurts it bothers me I have sensations a memory comes to me an emotion comes to me I have a thought And that's where The prefrontal cortex acts is sustaining Attention is to hold there When we are practicing meditation For example even if it is 15 Half an hour Attention to the sensations of the Breathing What we are doing is getting our prefrontal cortex used to sitting still
In a work to maintain attention On something very concrete Which seems to us to be insignificant but what is the feeling That we have When we are breathing That's a training That we do There is a lot of scientific literature lots and lots of articles that have demonstrated That the practice of meditation strengthens the prefrontal cortex But what's interesting here or the studies that I've always found more interesting They are those that show that you don't have to be a great meditator or live in a monastery and dedicate yourself to To dedicate one's life to meditation and spend 5 hours a day sitting Meditating There are studies that show us that Only at 8 weeks From the beginning of the practice, there are already changes in our Brain Specifically In the prefrontal cortex at 8 weeks already our prefrontal cortex starts to be trained To maintain the attention to it So obviously if we don't keep practicing then this reorganization Anatomical and functional that we have made of the prefrontal cortex, it's getting diluted
Why our brain has a great capacity to learn, it learns from everything what is happening learns with habit More than with discipline and I like very much this approach that says that more than discipline is the habit The habit makes the neuroplasticity Try a reorganization In the brain that makes it possible for me to Maintain attention But if after 8 weeks I stop practicing the meditation The brain returns to its original state i
To a prefrontal cortex that can not Maintain the attention on something in particular but that is A bit like a weather vane wandering around Between different stimuli Meditate Strengthens the activity Biochemistry and biophysics of our prefrontal cortex Reinforce Neuronal activity of the prefrontal cortex helps us To manage better Our attitude To better manage our tasks To keep our attention to strengthen The memory and above all because one of the great results That helps us to have a greater Ability to be in the present and being in the present has always been related to a greater Feeling of well-being That's in regards to what is the neuroscience of meditation on mindfulness
The next process that's been studied is what happens in the neuroscience From meditation because when we start meditating it also regulates the emotions
And this is obviously related to attention Notice that when we start meditating then what we usually do at the beginning is to pass 15 minutes 30 minutes Up to date attending to the sensations of the Breathing There is no rethinking of my emotions no rethinking of who I am who I am not who I am in pain who I am not in pain We only train meditation And with this we have said that the cortex is strengthened Prefrontal But what happens That the prefrontal cortex Controls Downward Controls the deepest parts of our brain that are not in the superficial part of the cortex but the parts that are more inside the brain And specifically What is called the limbic parts The emotional brain There is a network in our brain that we neuroscience call the network fronto limbic I
it goes from the frontal cortex To the limbic parts Of the brain and the limbic parts of the brain are the parts most involved in the management of emotions and there in particular in the limbic parts there is an area called the amygdala which is very tiny It's as small as an almond but it has an enormous power over the amygdala
Our brain Why Why does it give emotional content to our Memories is so to speak the one that judges this is right This is wrong this I like or this I don't like I like it And what happens when you don't like something Well, the amygdala has a great capacity for projecting Its activity Especially upwards and is able to from Sequestering the pre Frontal what does this mean That when I see myself subjected for example In an emotion in a state of anxiety a state of stress that may be Temporary or can be chronic In this state of stress I am unable to see clearly
I am unable to think straight because My Limbic brain is in charge of providing me with only those memories And thoughts that corroborate that emotion i
Many thoughts and many memories that are always negative It's very much related to something that does us a lot of harm which is one of the causes Strongest of our Feeling of dissatisfaction which is rumination When we cannot stop ruminating a problem of talking about a problem constantly In that case at the neuroscientific level what we say is that those parts Limbic parts of our brain They have exerted a great influence upwards And so I spend the day ruminating on this and thinking about this and how bad it is
Flooding our brain with negativity And above all a lot of negativity Activity Triggers brain activity because to imagine a moment of stress is a moment in which we are Constantly imagining how bad it's going to get constantly remembering That which has hurt us and constantly Dialoguing And of course in that state we forget about our body then what happens when we have practiced meditation when we practice meditation on a regular basis we already know that the prefrontal cortex is stronger So when the a activity of the limbic zones Projecting upward In the brain and try to Hijack the prefrontal cortex A prefrontal cortex that has been strengthened Why practicing meditation produces an inhibition on the emotional systems that is to say Is able to control The sensations the emotions that come to us You have to remember that Paul Ekman who is one of the greats Scholars of emotion I was saying that we experience emotions as they are presented to us, not as we choose them
And this is very interesting Why why why thanks in part to neuroscience meditation We have been able to see that we can choose how we live Why because the emotion comes the emotion lives goes upwards But a prefrontal cortex that is strengthened makes that Let's have perspective Of realizing how we are living this emotion for Inhibit it, to control it then the fact that we know how to regulate our emotions better when we practice meditation is partly the result of that we have strengthened the prefrontal cortex But also It's because when we practice meditation the amygdala which is that little Almond that we have in our brain and that I was telling you is so active that it is has such an aggressive capacity to spread its power through the brain
when we practice meditation ess almond becomes a little bit smaller That is to say We control, we put a limit to the amygdala As it happened In the scientific results that demonstrated That it is not necessary to be a great meditator to have brain changes when meditating The same thing happens in the amygdala When we practice the meditation at 8 weeks approximately Changes are beginning to be observed In the amygdala The amygdala is reduced How much activity is reduced i
it screams less At the biophysical level But it is also reduced in size That is to say there are anatomical changes Also in our brain This was demonstrated by Harvard University Sara Lazar in the lead who is one of the greats researchers From neuroscience to meditation then we already know that Practicing meditation helps us to maintain Sustaining mindfulness with all that it implies from a point of view functional We can concentrate better Increases the activity of our cortex prefrontal We know that we regulate our emotions better because it increases this network limbic fronto and also the amygdala, that small structure also shrinks
But there is another one of the Benefits which have been very interesting for the neuroscience and it is that Meditate and as I say We are talking about a very simple meditation which is to attend to the Sensations of the Breathing With meditating there is also a phenomenon that is tremendously complex And it is that we reorganize What is the idea of the self How we see ourselves Here neuroscience has looked at a part of the brain that is one of the most important Parts that arouses more controversy and more interest In the neuro Science that is the insula The insula is here If we could just stick our finger in Over here underneath this groove that we have Underneath the ear there's a small structure which is the insula The insula because it has some properties that are very very peculiar And the thing is that when we study what is the In what tasks the insula is involved we see that it is in charge of of perceiving sensations Of the body She's the one who knows if I'm straight if I'm shrunken, if I'm bent down if I am crooked I am standing It is the one that perceives also the coordination of space and time very involved in processing of music It is in charge of a function that has been very well studied and that has awakened a lot of interest
interest and it's also It is involved in the management of the smiles It is one of the areas that is most activated when we see someone smile and when we make someone smile
This is very important in the development of the child because a child in order to develop What is called the theory of mind or the idea that he has of himself he needs also to see Smiles But it has also been seen, and above all it is perhaps the thing that has aroused the most interest in neuroscience It's because it's the part that's a little bit more involved in metacognition
Who I am notice that when we observe ourselves when we do meditation and we observe our sensations, but also when we are observing Our thoughts Our emotions our sensations And there is a kind of a sort of unfolding of I am observing myself This has given rise to a lot of debate in neuroscience
not who observes whom Where is the observer and where is the observed is not Well, it seems that the most Most involved In observing ourselves is the insula And this part Just for practice the sensations From the From breathing for keeping for observing us To ourselves This zone begins to reorganize It grows in its anterior part, that is to say the part that is closer to it of the forehead and that makes Then let him manage better The realization of how I am And here is where comes one of the conclusions that I think is the most important of neuroscience and meditation And that is that meditating is not only valid for us in the moment
that we are sitting But that meditating has to involve some changes Psychobiological To be with us 24 hours a day When I am at work and I have a problem or I have a joy, I am capable of I have a greater capacity to observe myself and to realize What is my State in which I am I have this ability to not get carried away not get carried away That's why automatic torrent of Sensations and of emotions that are generated Unconsciously in our body And this is very much related to free will We have the capacity To mold ourselves And here I would keep a sentence From Don Santiago Ramón y Cajal What is the father of neuroscience who told us that we can all be if we set our mind to it Sculptors of our own brain
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