Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind

By Richard J. Davidson, Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This talk will present an overview of studies conducted in our laboratory on neural changes associated with different forms of meditation. Distinctions among three major forms of meditation practice will be made: Focused Attention; Open Monitoring; and Positive Affect Training. These different forms of meditation have different neural and behavioral effects. Data from studies on long-term meditation practitioners as well as those with shorter durations of training will be highlighted. In addition, some longitudinal studies that track changes over time with meditation practice will be reviewed. In addition to the neural changes that have been observed, this talk will also summarize changes that have been found in peripheral biology that may modulate physical health and illness. The central circuitry of emotion is especially implicated in peripheral biological changes that have consequences for health. The overall conclusions from these studies is that one can transform the mind through meditation and thereby alter the brain and the periphery in ways that may be beneficial for mental and physical health, and for well-being.