Thursday, November 17, 2011

Meditation changes the brain. (And why psychodramatists can appreciate the study of mindfulness)

Dr. Davidson and the Dalai Lama.

Richard J. Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is one of many scientists on the forefront of neuroscience.

Neuroscience recognizes that our brain is impacted by our mental environment and how the heart and the brain are connected, giving new meaning to the mind, body and spirit connections that we talk so much about. 

Dr. Davidson cites brain's amazing ability to change, both structurally and functionally, and  maintains that we can think of happiness and compassion as skills that are no different from learning to play a musical instrument, or training in golf or tennis. Happiness, like any skill, requires practice and time but because we know that the brain is built to change in response to mental training, it is possible to train a mind to be happy.

In this video, filmed in 2009, he talks about the voluntary cultivation of compassion through the practice of mindfulness. His research findings show that a number of parts of the brain that are changed with meditation, particularly the amygdala, which strongly impacts our emotions.

 As psychodramatists and professionals who value experiential psychotherapy, we can take this cheerful information as yet more proof that certain experiences create positive and important changes in the brain.   

One video, below, with more resources and information on Dr. Davidson's work at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.