The Surprising Connection Between Buddhism and Modern Psychotherapy

I had the opportunity to hear neuroscientist, Dr. Steve Prime speak at the Vancouver Buddhist Temple about Buddhism and Neuropsychology.  His current research is aimed at better understanding the cognitive and cortical processes that underly perception and sensory-motor coordination.  Dr. Prime talked about the interesting connection between modern psychotherapy and Buddhism and the research examining the specific brain activation of novice, regular and non-meditators.

In a nutshell, the roots of Psychotherapy and Buddhist practice lies in these areas.

1.  Life is suffering- If we have senses, we feel pain and that is life.

2. Suffering is due to attachment- We have a desire to cling on to what makes us feel good and avoid what makes us feel pain, distress etc.

3. Suffering can be extinguished or diminished- Focusing on freedom from the clinging (suffering).

4. There is a way to extinguish or diminish suffering- One takes the role in working towards it.

MRI’s have shown brainwave characteristics are altered and portions of the cortex physically thicken. The amygdala, essential to your ability to feel certain emotions and to perceive them in other people including fear and the many changes that it causes in the body, is less active.  The hippocampus, part of the brain that is involved in memory forming, organizing and storing, becomes more active. With regular meditation practice, some of these changes remain even after the meditative state is left.

Stress is not only unpleasant; it physically changes the brain by causing hippocampus neurons to reduce in size. Through long-term meditation, the reduction of stress results in the hippocampus rebuilding itself. Not only does the hippocampus gain brain matter, but the amygdala, the part of the brain that handles anger, sorrow and anxiety, reduces during meditation.

Meditation literally has the power to rewire the brain and form new pathways.  People that suffer from anxiety, anger or depression can, through focused meditation, create new and healthier habit of thoughts and feelings and actually form new pathways in the brain.  Since a healthy brain contributes to a healthy body, regular meditators are less likely to suffer from chronic disorders.  And those that do have chronic disorders, have discomfort minimized through meditation.

Now, excuse me as I will go and meditate…..

Cat Dillon

This blog is my journal, where I share everything wellness. From tips on healthy lifestyle to creating as much deliciousness in your life as possible.

Cat Dillon is the Cat in Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

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