Researches and articles about sound therapy

The Science Behind Healing with Sound

THE SCIENCE BEHIND HEALING WITH SOUND

There's growing interest in using sound frequency to boost human health. And research backs it up.​

In the realm of healing techniques, sound work inhabits a curious space: It has been used for thousands of years—think of overtone chanting from Central Asia, for example—yet, it’s also on the frontiers of modern neuroscience.

Sound work is “creating a frequency and vibration for someone that’s conducive for him or her to heal,” says Joshua Leeds, the author of The Power of Sound and an expert in the field of psychoacoustics, the study of the effects of sound on the human nervous system. “Sound healing is trending up. It’s like where yoga was 15 years ago. People are realizing that sound is a viable medium to address distress, enhance learning, even work with an autistic child.”

Much of the current work is based on the early ’70s research of biophysicist Gerald Oster. Oster showed that when a tone is played in one ear and a slightly different tone is played in the other ear, the difference causes the brain to create a third, internal tone, called a binaural beat. The theory is that this syncs the brain waves in both hemispheres, a process dubbed “brain-wave entrainment.”

“When the brain is in synchronicity, there’s more focus,” says Carol Moore, marketing director of Monroe Products, which makes Hemi-Sync verbal meditations and music that contain embedded binaural beats. For example, “Our sleep titles help drop you into the deep delta waves. Electrical activity in the brain gets slowed down.” Some of the products are designed to help people recover from a stroke or surgery, deal with chronic pain, or become more relaxed while undergoing chemotherapy. “You might envision the drugs as a love potion, rather than poison. It’s creating a state where you can say, ‘This is coming into my body to heal me, not to do damage to me,’ ” says Moore.

Brain-wave entrainment isn’t without its skeptics, but some research supports it. In 2008, the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine published a review of 20 studies of brain-wave entrainment and patient outcomes. The conclusion was that brain-wave entrainment is an effective tool to use on cognitive functioning deficits, stress, pain, headaches, and premenstrual syndrome.

The studies also suggest that sound work can help with behavioral problems. “Different brain-wave patterns affect emotions,” says Bill Harris, who created Holosync products. His system uses sounds like rain and crystal bowls—there’s no beat or melody—with a pulsing tone underneath. He also uses custom affirmations, which people record in their own voices. “You’re practicing going into a brain-wave pattern. It causes the brain to organize at a more complex level. It takes what you can handle emotionally and intellectually and pushes it higher,” says Harris. “I’m not claiming this cures cancer. But it does have a profound effect on people’s physical health. A lot of people come to us for chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, things that are exacerbated by stress.”

Sound can increase immunity and treat insomnia, according to Jamie Bechtold, a Los Angeles-based sound healer. “Most people come to me for stress and anxiety,” she says. For woes like pulled muscles, colds, and headaches, Bechtold uses tuning forks on acupuncture points. “I’ve seen back muscles that are spasming completely relax using this vibration.” Bechtold also combines gong performances with yoga classes. “Recorded music is fine, but with live music you can feel it. The floor is vibrating. The sound waves are bouncing all over the place.”

Jeffrey Thompson, founder of the Center for Neuroacoustic Research, says different frequencies target the various densities in the body. He uses a vibroacoustic sound therapy table. “As the frequencies slow down, from 500 to 400 hertz (a hertz is one cycle per second), you feel it more in your muscles, then your joints, then in your bones. We can give a vibrational massage, down all the way to your cells. I can do cranial work with sound, work on organs. You’re finding frequencies to elevate the body’s cells to a super-healing state, rebuilding more tissue,” Thompson says.

“There’s more on sound science than ever before,” says Leeds. “We know what is happening molecularly.” In the future, he says, “What we think of as sound healing will be called frequency medicine.”

Dr Emoto’s Messages from Water

DR EMOTO’S MESSAGES FROM WATER

WATER

The Earth is largely made up of it.

As are we…

And yet about it we know significantly little.

Until the groundbreaking work of a pioneer Japanese researcher whose astonishing discovery about water, documented photographically, changed most of what we didn’t know…and led to a new consciousness of Earth’s most precious resource.

Dr. Masaru Emoto was born in Japan and is a graduate of the Yokohama Municipal University and the Open International University as a Doctor of Alternative Medicine. His photographs were first featured in his self-published books Messages from Water 1 and 2. The Hidden Messages in Water was first published in Japan, with over 400,000 copies sold internationally.

What has put Dr. Emoto at the forefront of the study of water is his proof that thoughts and feelings affect physical reality. By producing different focused intentions through written and spoken words and music and literally presenting it to the same water samples, the water appears to “change its expression”.

 

Essentially, Dr. Emoto captured water’s ‘expressions.’ He developed a technique using a very powerful microscope in a very cold room along with high-speed photography, to photograph newly formed crystals of frozen water samples. Not all water samples crystallize however. Water samples from extremely polluted rivers directly seem to express the ‘state’ the water is in.
Dr. Masaru Emoto discovered that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them. He found that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors.

The implications of this research create a new awareness of how we can positively impact the earth and our personal health. The success of his books outside Japan has been remarkable. Dr. Emoto has been called to lecture around the world as a result and has conducted live experiments both in Japan and Europe as well as in the US to show how indeed our thoughts, attitudes, and emotions as humans deeply impact the environment.

Dr. Emotos newest book, The Hidden Messages in Water, further explores his revolutionary research. Since humans and the earth are composed mostly of water, his message is one of personal health, global environmental renewal, and a practical plan for peace that starts with each one of us. The implications of this research create a new awareness of how we can positively impact the earth and our personal health. Available from your favorite bookseller or from Beyond Words Publishing www.beyondword.com.


“Half of the earth is water; our body is three-quarters water. Water represents the interface between the 4th dimension in which we live and the 5th dimensional sphere of our soul. Many studies have shown subtle effects of healers upon hydrogen bonding and infrared absorption of water. None of these scientific studies can compare with the beauty and clear messages shown by Dr. Emoto’s elegant work. The impact of thought and beauty has never before been demonstrated so well.”

C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.
Founding President, American Holistic Medical Association
President. Holos University Graduate Seminary
Author of 295 publications, including Sacred Healing

“The Hidden Messages in Water is magnificent. Through his genius photography and superb scientific skill, Dr. Masaru Emoto has created a book that is truly a mystical treasure. His contribution to research in spiritual consciousness is positively masterful.”

- Caroline M. Myss, author of Sacred Contracts and Anatomy of the Spirit

“As with Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, Dr. Emoto¹s clear vision helps us see ourselves and our universe differently. Science and spirit unite, resulting in a profound and undeniable quantum leap in how we view our world, and how we can reclaim our health and create peace.”

Sound wave treatment zaps prostate tumours

SOUND WAVE TREATMENT ZAPS PROSTATE TUMOURS

Men with prostate cancer could soon be offered sound wave treatment that rids 90 per cent of sufferers of the disease, while doubling their chances of avoiding debilitating side effects.

The therapy closely targets tumours, causing much less damage to healthy tissue than conventional surgery or radiotherapy.

High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is already used in some NHS hospitals and private clinics, often to treat the entire half of the prostate where the cancer was situated.

Zapped: A new therapy for prostate cancer claims to target tumours more closely, resulting in less damage to healthy tissue and reducing the chance of side effects

But it is now being used in a more targeted way to treat areas of early-stage cancer just a few millimetres in size.

Experimental research shows this dramatically cuts the number of men suffering incontinence, impotence and other complications due to nerve damage caused by treatment.

Men undergoing traditional treatment – radiotherapy or surgery to remove the whole prostate – have a 50 per cent chance of a ‘perfect outcome’, avoiding the side effects and achieving good cancer control a year after therapy.

In a new trial, men treated with HIFU had a nine in ten chance of achieving the best result. None of the 41 men in the trial had incontinence and just one in ten suffered from impotence after 12 months.

Altogether 95 per cent of the men were cancer-free after a year, a report in the medical journal Lancet Oncology says.

HIFU focuses high-frequency sound waves on to an area the size of a grain of rice. 

The sound waves cause the tissue to vibrate and heat to about 80c, killing the cells in the target area.

The procedure is performed in hospital under general anaesthetic and most patients are back home within 24 hours.

Dr Hashim Ahmed, who led the study at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University College London, said: ‘We’re optimistic that men diagnosed with prostate cancer may soon be able to undergo a day case surgical procedure, which can be safely repeated once or twice, to treat their condition with very few side-effects.

That could mean a significant improvement in their quality of life.

‘This study provides the proof-of-concept we need to develop a much larger trial in the NHS in the next two years, hopefully backed by the Government, to determine whether it is as effective as standard treatment in the medium and long term.’ 

 

London Hospital

University College London Hospital, where the study took place

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. In the UK, more than 37,000 men are diagnosed each year and the condition leads to approximately 10,000 deaths. 

However, men with early-stage prostate cancer can live for years without their disease getting worse and many face the dilemma of opting for therapy that may lead to side effects.

Standard treatments can damage surrounding healthy tissue, with up to a quarter of men suffering urinary incontinence and two-thirds having erectile difficulties as a result.

But the latest trial, funded by the Medical Research Council, the Pelican Cancer Foundation and St Peter’s Trust, used focal HIFU therapy, meaning it targeted the exact areas of cancer using two highly sensitive diagnostic techniques, MRI and mapping biopsies. 

Professor Mark Emberton, who leads the research programme at UCLH and UCL, said similar techniques to preserve tissue had been successful in breast cancer treatment, where women have been offered a lumpectomy rather than mastectomy.

Owen Sharp, of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: ‘We welcome the development of any prostate cancer treatment which limits the possibility of damaging side effects such as incontinence and impotence. 

‘However, we need to remember that this treatment was given to fewer than 50 men, without follow-up over a sustained period of time.’ 

Prostate Action chief executive Emma Malcolm said: ‘Today, men being treated for prostate cancer face a daunting range of side effects, having a 50/50 chance of getting through a year without experiencing incontinence, impotence, or having their cancer spread.

‘[This] research suggests high-intensity focused ultrasound could cut this risk ... giving thousands of men a better quality of life.’

Subliminal Messages Motivate People To Actually Do Things They Already Wanted To Do

SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES MOTIVATE PEOPLE

How is it possible that you were not planning on going shopping, but that you still end up going and even return home with four new pairs of trousers? Apparently you really did want to go shopping but were not consciously aware of it. Dutch researcher Martijn Veltkamp has demonstrated that you can motivate people with subliminal messages: quickly flashing words onto a screen without their noticing. This is only successful, however, if the subliminal messages matches a biological need and if the behaviour is associated with a positive effect.

To get people to behave in a certain way, the idea for such behaviour must first be planted in their minds. Once the idea has been planted in your mind (so-called ‘priming') then either a lack of something (deprivation) or a positive association with a certain action can ensure that you are actually motivated to carry out that action. These three factors have previously been investigated independently but Veltkamp has now shown for the first time how the three factors work together to trigger unconsciously motivated behaviour.

Drinking when you're not thirsty

Veltkamp studied this interaction in a series of experiments. He flashed the words 'drinking' and 'thirsty' onto a computer screen very quickly so that they could not be consciously perceived. This priming is what researchers call ‘making the representation of the behaviour accessible'. In one group of participants this was combined with deprivation - they were thirsty. In another group the word 'drinking' was combined with positive words which led to a positive association. Veltkamp combined the three factors in different ways and then registered how willing the participants were to have a drink.

The results of the experiments showed that motivation for carrying out certain actions (such as drinking) occurs when the action matches an existing deprivation or has a positive association. These two motivational states both independently indicate that carrying out a certain action is worth striving for. However, if both states issue a signal simultaneously then this does not lead to higher motivation.

Another of Veltkamp's experiments demonstrated the strong influence of positive association. He let the participants eat cucumber to alleviate fluid deprivation. As expected, those participants that had only been deprived of fluid were less motivated to drink later on, but the motivation stayed high in those people whose motivation to drink was partly due to positive association.

Large glasses of water

Veltkamp's research shows that, without being aware of it, besides being motivated by influences from our surroundings, the way in which we perceive the world around us can change. Earlier research had shown that people perceive objects of worth to be larger than objects that are worthless. Veltkamp's research demonstrates that it is not so much the actual worth of the objects which is important but the motivational worth; if an object is relevant for attaining your goals then you will perceive it to be bigger than it actually is. In one of Veltkamp's experiments, glasses of water were estimated to be bigger, if the participants had not had a drink for some time.

Martijn Veltkamp's research was financed by a Vidi grant which his supervisor Henk Aarts received from NWO in 2003. In his Vidi project, Aarts is trying to find out how people can be unconsciously motivated

Pump up the music -- especially the bass -- to make you feel powerful

PUMP UP THE MUSIC

It's the day of the big game -- before heading out to the field, you put on your headphones and blast some music to pump you up. The music seemingly empowers you to do great things. This effect is not all in your head -- according to new research, music truly does make us feel powerful. But not all songs have the same effect, researchers found, and the levels of bass are a key factor in their effectiveness.

"When watching major sports events, my coauthors and I frequently noticed athletes with their earphones on while entering the stadium and in the locker room," says Dennis Hsu of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. "The ways these athletes immerse themselves in the music -- some with their eyes steely shut and some gently nodded along the beats -- seem as if the music is mentally preparing and toughening them up for the competition about to occur."

These observations got Hsu and his colleagues curious as to whether music can truly transform the psychological state of the listener. Previous research has established that music can have positive effects on people, ranging from enhancing learning and motivation to reducing physical pain. However, no study until now has linked music to a sense of power, identifying not only the consequences but also a potential cause of this link.

The researchers first pre-tested 31 pieces of music from several genres, such as sports music, hip-hop, and reggae, to see how powerful participants felt listening to 30-second clips. From this pre-test, they identified the highest power and lowest power songs. Songs rated as powerful included Queen's "We Will Rock You" and 2 Unlimited's "Get Ready for This," while songs rated lower in power included songs such as Fatboy Slim's "Because We Can" and Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out."

Then, in a series of experiments, the researchers looked at how the highest and lowest rated power songs affected both people's sense of power and three previously identified psychological and behavioral consequences of power: the tendency to see the forest instead of the trees (thought abstraction), perceived control over social events (illusion of control), and the desire to move first in competitive interactions.

For each dimension of power they tested, the research team adopted specific tasks from previously established research, for example a die-rolling task to measure illusion of control, an item categorization task to measure abstraction, and a decision-making scenario to measure moving first. "Part of our objective was to test whether music produces the same downstream effects of power found in other sources," Hsu says. The researchers also surveyed the participants about their positive feelings and statistically controlled for them to make sure that any effects found were above and beyond those created by emotion.

As published today in Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers found that the high-power music not only evoked a sense of power unconsciously, but also systematically generated the three downstream consequences of power. Importantly, the researchers also ruled out lyrics as the cause of the effects, separately asking people to rate how powerful the lyrics made them feel. "Because participants did not report increased powerful feelings after reading the lyrics, we can rule out the semantic priming effect of lyrics in the selected songs," Hsu explains.

Hsu's team also conducted separate experiments to look at one structural component of music that might explain the music-power effect: bass levels. "We chose to manipulate bass levels in music because existing literature suggests that bass sound and voice are associated with dominance," Hsu says. They also observed that bass sound and voice are frequently utilized in popular culture to project perceptions of dominance and confidence. (Think James Earl Jones as Darth Vader in Star Wars.)

In the bass experiments, the researchers asked participants to listen to novel instrumental music pieces in which bass levels were digitally varied. In one experiment, they surveyed participants about their self-reported feelings of power, and in another, they asked them to perform a word-completion task designed to test implicit, or unconscious, feelings of power. They found that those who listened to the heavy-bass music reported more feelings of power and generated more power-related words in the implicit task than those listening to the low-bass music.

The effects of the bass levels support one possible explanation for why music makes people feel more powerful: the "contagion hypothesis." The idea is that when people hear specific music components that express a sense of power, they mimic these feelings internally. "Importantly, because we used novel, never-before-heard music pieces in these experiments, it suggests that the effect may sometimes arise purely out of contagion," Hsu says. "Of course, this does not preclude the possibility that music could induce a sense of power through other processes, such as conditioning."

The "conditioning hypothesis" suggests that certain pieces of music might trigger powerful experiences because these experiences are often paired with that particular music. For example, music used frequently at sports events may elicit powerful feelings because of the association with power, rewards, and winning (e.g., "We Are the Champions" is often played to celebrate victory).

Hsu and colleagues plan to further study other potential mechanisms through which music can induce power. They are also interested in exploring whether empowering music can lead to more desirable outcomes in contexts such as negotiations, employee performance, job interviews, marketing campaigns, and social perceptions.

"Although significantly more research needs to be done before we can truly begin to understand music's effects on our psychological experiences, I believe our findings provide initial evidence for the potential strategic use of music, especially in situations where people need to feel empowered," Hsu says. "People might want to explore whether pumping up their favorite tunes can quickly ease them into an empowered mental state before going into a first date, an important client meeting, or a job interview."

Subliminal Learning Demonstrated In Human Brain

SUBLIMINAL LEARNING DEMONSTRATED IN HUMAN BRAIN

Although the idea that instrumental learning can occur subconsciously has been around for nearly a century, it had not been unequivocally demonstrated. Now, a new study published by Cell Press in the August 28 issue of the journal Neuron used sophisticated perceptual masking, computational modeling, and neuroimaging to show that instrumental learning can occur in the human brain without conscious processing of contextual cues.

"Humans frequently invoke an argument that their intuition can result in a better decision than conscious reasoning," says lead author Dr. Mathias Pessiglione from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at the University College London. "Such assertions may rely on subconscious associative learning between subliminal signals present in a given situation and choice outcomes." For instance, a seasoned poker player may play more successfully because of a learned association between monetary outcomes and subliminal behavioral manifestations of their opponents.

To investigate this phenomenon, Dr. Pessiglione and colleagues created visual cues from scrambled, novel, abstract symbols. Visual awareness was assessed by displaying two of the masked cues and asking subjects if they perceived any difference. "We reasoned that if subjects were unable to correctly perceive any difference between the masked cues, then they were also unable to build conscious representations of cue-outcome associations," explains Dr. Pessiglione.

In the next set of experiments, subjects performed a subliminal conditioning task that employed the same masking procedure, but the cues were now paired with monetary outcomes. Using this methodology, the researchers observed that pairing rewards and punishments guided behavioral responses and even conditioned preferences for abstract cues that subjects could not consciously see.

The researchers collected scans of the brain, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, to investigate the specific brain circuitry that is linked to subliminal instrumental conditioning. "The ventral striatum responded to subliminal cues and to visible outcomes in a manner that closely approximates our computational algorithm, expressing reward expected values and prediction errors," says Dr. Pessiglione. "We conclude that, even without conscious processing of contextual cues, our brain can learn their reward value and use them to provide a bias on decision making."

The researchers include Mathias Pessiglione, University College London, London, UK, INSERM U610, Universite´ Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France; Predrag Petrovic, University College London, London, UK Jean Daunizeau, University College London, London, UK; Stefano Palminteri, INSERM U610, Universite´ Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France; Raymond J. Dolan, University College London, London, UKand Chris D. Frith, University College London, London, UK.

Positive subliminal messages on aging improve physical functioning in elderly

POSITIVE SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES ON AGING IMPROVE PHYSICAL FUNCTIONING IN ELDERLY

Older individuals who are subliminally exposed to positive stereotypes about aging showed improved physical functioning that can last for several weeks, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health has found.

Researchers used a novel intervention method to examine for the first time whether exposure to positive age stereotypes could weaken negative age stereotypes and their effects over time, and lead to healthier outcomes.

The study, to be published online in an upcoming issue of the journalPsychological Science, consisted of 100 older individuals (average age 81 years) who live in the greater New Haven, Connecticut area. Some of the participants were subjected to positive age stereotypes on a computer screen that flashed words such as "spry" and "creative" at speeds that were too fast to allow for conscious awareness.

Individuals exposed to the positive messaging exhibited a range of psychological and physical improvements that were not found in control subjects. They benefited from improved physical function, such as physical balance, which continued for three weeks after the intervention ended. Also, during the same period, positive age stereotypes and positive self-perceptions of aging were strengthened, and negative age stereotypes and negative self-perceptions of aging were weakened.

"The challenge we had in this study was to enable the participants to overcome the negative age stereotypes which they acquire from society, as in everyday conversations and television comedies," said lead researcher Becca Levy, associate professor and director of the Social and Behavioral Science Division. "The study's successful outcome suggests the potential of directing subliminal processes toward the enhancement of physical function."

While it has been previously shown by Levy that negative age stereotypes can weaken an older individual's physical functioning, this is the first time that subliminal activation of positive age stereotypes was found to improve outcomes over time.

The study found that the intervention influenced physical function through a cascade of positive effects: It first strengthened the subjects' positive age stereotypes, which then strengthened their positive self-perceptions, which then improved their physical function.

The study's effect on physical function surpassed a previous study by others that involved a six-month-exercise intervention's effect with participants of similar ages.

Subconscious Encounters: How Brand Exposure Affects Your Choices

HOW BRAND EXPOSURE AFFECTS YOUR CHOICES

Products with visible brand names are everywhere; many times we don't even notice them. But how much do those unnoticed exposures affect brand choices? Quite a bit, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Authors Rosellina Ferraro (University of Maryland), James R. Bettman, and Tanya L. Chartrand (both Duke University) conducted a series of experiments using Dasani water and found that study participants who viewed pictures of ordinary people near bottles of Dasani were more likely to choose that brand over three other brands—even if they were unaware they had seen the logo.

"For example, on any given morning, one might pass several people with Starbucks coffee in hand. Will this repeated exposure affect an observer's decision to select Starbucks coffee if given a choice among coffee brands? We show that the answer is yes, and that repeated exposure to a brand will lead to an increased likelihood of selecting that brand," write the authors.

In the first study, undergraduate study participants viewed photos of people engaged in everyday activities, such as waiting for a bus. Most of the participants were not aware of the presence of the brand. The more pictures of Dasani they viewed, the more likely they were to choose it from a list of brands.

In subsequent studies, participants saw the same photos, but were also distracted by music on headphones and exposed to subliminal flashes of the Dasani logo. The researchers discovered a backlash effect: People with a lot of subliminal exposures to the brand name and a lot of incidental exposures to it were not as likely to choose it.

In a final study, participants were more likely to choose Dasani after seeing photos of people wearing caps with their university's logo (with Dasani nearby) than photos of people wearing a rival team's logo.

"In essence, consumers act as their own implicit market researchers, registering information on frequency of brand exposure and its users and utilizing that information in making brand choices," the authors conclude.

Brain absorbs subliminal messages - if not too busy

BRAIN ABSORBS SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES

Subliminal messages do leave a mark on the brain, say scientists. Using brain scanners, they found we often record images we are not even aware of having seen.

The study shows how subliminal advertising, banned in the UK but still legal in the US, might work.

But Bahador Bahrami, a neuroscientist at University College London, who led the work, also found a way to get around the messages, showing that the brain's susceptibility to subliminal messages alters as it works harder. "If the brain is busy ... it can filter out those subliminal things," said Dr Bahrami, whose research is published today in Current Science. His study challenges an assumption of psychology - that attention and consciousness go hand in hand. "We knew the brain responds to subliminal messages but we don't know whether that response is automatic or is affected by whether the brain pays attention."

His volunteers looked at a computer screen through 3D-movie spectacles, with one lens red and the other blue. Faint images of everyday objects were shown to one eye and very strong, rapidly flashing, blue images to the other.

The images were superimposed on the screen but through the glasses the blue images overpowered the red. "The subjects are not even aware there are two images even though they know there should be something," said Dr Bahrami. At the same time the volunteers watched a stream of letters and clicked when they saw a T. In this task, the subliminal images got through because the brain had spare processing resources, he said.

But with a harder task, with two types of target, the subliminal activations were significantly reduced. "That means the brain response to subliminal messages is not automatic and depends on attention."

The brain area activated by the subliminal messages was shown to be the primary visual cortex, a part that is one of the earliest to get information from the retina.

Dr Bahrami said it was likely subliminal advertising might affect our decisions about buying things. "But that is just speculation at this point," he added.

Here are a few researches studies into subliminal technology:

 

The Unconscious Mind Is Able To Perceive A Recorded Verbal Message That Cannot Be Consciously Heard

V.A Kaser came to the conclusion that the subconscious mind can perceive subliminal messages because of his study in which participants who listened to subliminal audio while sleeping had dreams relating to the subliminal suggestions they were listening to and were able to recall them upon waking - the subliminal audio therefore had made it’s way into their minds.

(Kaser, V.A., "The Effects of an Auditory Subliminal Perception Message Upon the Production of Images and Dreams". Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease).

                                                                                                                                                         

                       

Subliminal Stimuli Is Proven To Improve Academic Performance

A study was conducted on 60 students taking a law course. The class was split, with one group receiving subliminal stimuli and the other not - at the end of the course the students who received subliminal stimuli scored significantly higher grades - an edge which was still maintained 12 week later. Parker concluded that subliminal technology can be used to influence academic achievement and provide lasting effects.

(Parker, K.A. "Effects of Subliminal Symbiotic Stimulation on Academic Performance: Further Evidence on the Adaptation-Enhancing Effects of Oneness Fantasies." Journal of Counseling Psychology.)

 

Subliminal Weight Loss Really Is Possible

Silverman et al studied two groups of 30 and 26 women, who were all at least 15% overweight, taking part in a weight loss course where they received help, education, and a plan to help them to lose weight. They were split into 2 groups, one receiving subliminal audio messages, and the other not. Not only did the group who were exposed to the subliminal audio lose more weight, but the difference in weight between the two groups had further increased when they were followed up.

(Silverman, L.H., Martin, A., Ungaro, R., and Mendelsohn, E. "Effect of Subliminal Stimulation of Symbiotic Fantasies on Behavior Modification Treatment of Obesity." Clinical Psychology)

 

You Are 4x More Likely To Successfully Quit Smoking With Help From Subliminal Messages

These were the findings of Dr. Lloyd H. Silverman, a psychologist at New York University in his study of over 40 groups of smokers. Half of each group received subliminal audio stimulus to help strengthen their will and quit, and overall, one month afterwards 66% of the “subliminal group” were still free from cigarettes whereas only 13% of the control group were still non-smokers.

(Silverman, L.H "Effects of Subliminal Stimulation of Symbiotic Merging Fantasies on Behavioral Treatment of Smokers." The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.)

Improves Math Skills                       

Ariam, S. and Siller, J. "Effects of Subliminal Oneness Stimuli in Hebrew on Academic Performance of Israeli High School Students. " Journal of Abnormal Psychology (1982):

  • 10th grade students were shown subliminal messages in Hebrew saying; "Mommy and I are one", "My teacher and I are one" and "People are walking in the street" (a neutral statement). The Students received the messages four times per week for 6 weeks.
  • 6 weeks later, the students exposed to the subliminal statement "Mommy and I are one" scored higher in a maths exam than the other groups.
  • Psychologists claimed the messages such as "Mommy and I are one" would boost the students self esteem and have an effect to help them learn. Also interestingly when the messages were revealed so the students were aware of what they were receiving the effect failed, giving support to the effectiveness of sending a subliminal message rather than an overt one.

 

Helps to Quit Smoking

Palmatier, J.R., and Bornstein, P.H. "Effects of Subliminal Stimulation of Symbiotic Merging Fantasies on Behavioral Treatment of Smokers." The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (1980):

  • Thirty-four people underwent a 3-week, group-oriented smoking cessation therapy package.
  • Results showed that the subliminal messages affected post-treatment smoking behavior of the group. i.e. the people who received subliminal messages after their regular therapy had a lower rate of relapse into smoking again.
  • A follow up study by Palmatier and Bornstein found that "subliminal messaging noticeably improved the progress of subjects attempting to quit smoking", when compared to the group not exposed to subliminal messages.
  • The Mind Can "Hear" Audio Subliminal Messages
  • Kaser, V.A. "The Effects of an Auditory Subliminal Perception Message Upon the Production of Images and Dreams". Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (1986).
  • Subjects listened to an audio subliminal message. The message was mixed with a regular music recording. Another group of subjects simply listened to the regular music recording without the subliminals.
  • Both groups were asked to create a pre-test drawing before and immediately after the music was played as well as a drawing of any dreams they had the previous night.
  • When the drawings were examined, the effects of the subliminal message could be seen.The drawings of the people who listened to the music with subliminal hidden content contained images relating to the suggestions they were listening to, whereas no correlation could be found with the control group.
  • Kaser concluded that "the unconscious/subconscious mind is able to perceive a recorded verbal message that cannot be consciously heard", proving the existence of subliminal perception.
  • In another study conducted by Dr. Becker experimental and control groups were asked to guess a three-digit number. The experimental group was exposed to the number subliminally embedded in behind a pink noise (similar to white noise) based audio track.

In three different trials an average of 77% of people exposed to the subliminal numbers guessed correctly, in comparison to only 10% of people in the control groups who weren't exposed subliminally to the numbers. This again confirms that subliminal messages are perceived at a non-conscious level.

 

Losing Weight & Healthy Eating

Silverman, L.H., Martin, A., Ungaro, R., and Mendelsohn, E. "Effect of Subliminal Stimulation of Symbiotic Fantasies on Behavior Modification Treatment of Obesity." Clinical Psychology (1978):

  • Silverman et al conducted two experiments on subliminal perception with groups of 26 and 30 women. The women were at least 15% overweight. There were 2 groups, a 'subliminal group' and a 'control group'. Both groups were given some education on weight loss and healthy eating i.e. how to record calories accurately, eating at regular meal times, and how to reward themselves for eating healthily.
  • At the start and end of all the sessions, everyone was asked to image a situation in which they would be tempted to over eat. At this point they were exposed to a subliminal message for 4 milliseconds. Either a weight loss based subliminal message for the subliminal group or a neutral subliminal message for the control group.
  • In both cases the 'subliminal group' lost more weight than the control group, with the subliminal group losing significantly more by the end of the follow up period. It was concluded that the use of subliminal messaging was able to help people reduce their over eating habits.
  • Another study conducted by Dr. Becker et al showed that the use of subliminal messages can have astounding results:
  • In Metairie, Louisiana, at Dr. Becker's weight loss clinic his patients heard both cassette tape subliminal messages and videotapes containing subliminals.
  • One woman lost 100 pounds within one year. In a follow up Dr. Becker found 50% of the patients maintained over half their weight loss for up to two years following the subliminal program. Even more impressively 23% maintained between 75% and 100% of their total weight loss. These figures were significantly better than diet programs in which he did not use subliminal messaging. subliminal messages.

Improve Study Skills

Parker, K.A. "Effects of Subliminal Symbiotic Stimulation on Academic Performance: Further Evidence on the Adaptation-Enhancing Effects of Oneness Fantasies." Journal of Counseling Psychology (1982):

  • 60 college students on a summer law course for 6 weeks received subliminal messages before 3 of their 5 lectures per week, as also before and after a brief minute counseling session.
  • The subjects exposed to subliminal messaging achieved significantly higher grades than the others, which were consistent with other earlier studies.

 

Subliminal Enhancements Boost Learning Capacity

Cook, H., Ph.D. "Effects of Subliminal Symbiotic Gratification and the Magic of Believing on Achievement." Psychoanalytic Psychology (1985):

  • University students were split into groups and exposed to either to a subliminal message, or a control message immediately after class over a period of 12 sessions of 4 millisecond duration messages
  • Students who had received the subliminal messages ended up performing better in their end of year exams than students who received the control message.
  • The researchers concluded that subliminally stimulating students to feel better about themselves enabled them to learn more efficiently.

Cure Agoraphobia

Lee, I., Tyrer, P. and Horn, S., "A comparison of Subliminal, Supraliminal and Faded Phobic Cine-Films in the Treatment of Agoraphobia. " British Journal of Psychiatry (1983):

  • 32 patients were treated by being exposed to videos twice per week for a period of three weeks. Three of the groups saw the same movie - a selection of agoraphobic scenes, while the control group saw a potter working on his wheel. The three test groups included one group who viewed it at a level below the visual threshold (the subliminal group), one seeing it under normal conditions (the regular group), and the third was exposed to both subliminal and regular viewing as the study progressed (the faded group).
  • The faded group showed the greatest improvement out of all of the groups. The improvement was maintained over a twelve week review period.
  • These findings findings indicate that both subliminal and regular presentation of messages can be effective in reducing agoraphobic behavior, but when combining subliminal messaging with regular viewing there is an even greater effect.

 

Darts Accuracy

Plumbo, R. and Gillman, I. "Effects of Subliminal Activation of Oedipal Fantasies on Competitive Performance." The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (1984):

* Subjects tested for their darts accuracy. They were exposed to the following subliminal messages; "Beating him is OK", "Beating him is wrong", and a neutral control message of "People are walking".

 

  • Results showed that people exposed to the message "Beating him is OK" showed greater dart-throwing accuracy than people listening to any other messages.
  • This study shows that even a simple positive message played while throwing darts can induce a greater level of accuracy.
  • Strong Reactions To Subconscious Messages
  • Bornstein, R.F, Leone, D.R. and Galley, D.J. "The Generalizability of Subliminal Mere Exposure Effects: Influence of Stimuli Perceived Without Awareness on Social Behavior." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1987):
  • Spoken statements hidden by white noise at increasing volume levels were played to test subjects.
  • Stronger physiological reactions were observed in subjects exposed to the messages which masked by loud white noise and inaudible, than when the volume was actually lower and the messages were somewhat audible.
  • researches concluded that completely inaudible messages were capable of reaching the human mind, and of having a physiological effect.

 

Subliminal Messages Reduce Shoplifting

  • TIME Magazine reported in 1979 that nearly 50 department stores in the U.S. and Canada had been using subliminal messages over their music systems which had resulted in a significant reduction in both customer based shoplifting and employee theft.
  • One East Coast chain amounted savings of $600,000 over a nine-month period!
  • Another story in the Wall Street Journal in 1980 stated that subliminal messaging a New Orleans supermarket resulted in an all time low within 6 months of use - from $50,000 per six month period to a figure of $13,000! Furthermore cashier shortages dropped from $125 per week to below $10 per week.

 

There have been several surveys and studies that prove the effectiveness of subliminal messages technology.

Martijn Veltkamp (PhD-student), demonstrated that you can motivate people to do things that already had the intention to do them, using visual subliminal stimuli [2]

According to Professor Benjamin B. Wolman, author of more than40 books on psychology, conscious thought can be influenced bystimuli outside of conscious awareness. He adds, with reference to Silverman (1967), that Freud’s study of consciousness “assumes that a subliminal input raises the activation level of existing unconscious motives” [3]

Dr. Norman Dixon, a psychologist at University College London, has done extensive researches on subliminal learning. In his scholarly work Preconscious Processing he cites 748 references to studies on the effects of subliminal communication, with over 80% showing positive results [4]

Dr. Eldon Taylor, director of Progressive Awareness researches and a Fellow in the American Psychotherapy Association, firmly believes that subliminal information when presented in an appropriate manner, is processed, retained, and acted upon [5]

The researches of Dr. H Bahador Bahrami, a neuroscientist at the University College of London, using brain scanners showed that the brain absorbs subliminal messages when not too busy [6]

Several studies have focused on the possibility of using subliminal messages to produce specific results:

Academic Performance

An article in the Journal of Counseling Psychology (Journal of Counseling Psychology) [7], reports a study by Dr. Kenneth Parker, a psychologist at Queens College in New York. Dr. Kenneth Parker conducted a study to determine whethersubliminal messages can improve academic performance. Careful statistical analysis of the effects of subliminalstimulation, showed significant improvement in academic performance of students.

Weight Loss

Two groups of overweight women participated in a course for weight loss, where one group received audio subliminalsuggestions, while the other group weren’t. The women of the group that had exposed to subliminal suggestions lostmore weight, while the difference in weight continued to increase during the follow-up [8].

Stop smoking

Psychologist Dr. Lloyd H. Silverman of New York University, has studied more than 40 groups of smokers. Half of each group were exposed to subliminal audio messages, and the other half not. Within a month, 66% of people exposed tosubliminal messages stopped smoking, compared with 13% of others. This led Silverman to conclude that subliminalmessages make it four times more likely someone to be able quit someone smoking [9].

It is obvious the fact that subliminal messages have the potential to affect us and become part of our beliefs. They are auseful and powerful tool to change oneself. The applications can be infinite, from eliminating phobias and anxiety to increasing self-confidence, self-esteem and other mental abilities.

 

Loftus, Elizabeth F.; Klinger, Mark R. (June 1992). "Is the unconscious smart or dumb?". American Psychologist. 47 (6): 761–765. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.47.6.761. PMID 1616173.

Brooks, S.J.; Savov V; Allzén E; Benedict C; Fredriksson R; Schiöth HB. (February 2012). "Exposure to subliminal arousing stimuli induces robust activation in the amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate, insular cortex and primary visual cortex: a systematic meta-analysis of fMRI studies.". NeuroImage. 59 (3): 2962–2973. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.09.077. PMID 22001789.

Schlaghecken, F.; Eimer, M. (2004). "Subliminal stimuli can bias 'free' choices between response alternatives". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 11: 463–468. doi:10.3758/bf03196596.

 van Gaal, S; de Lange, FP; Cohen, MX (2012). "The role of consciousness in cognitive control and decision making". Front Hum Neurosci. 6: 121. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00121. PMC 3345871. PMID 22586386.

Zeman, A. (2001). "Consciousness". Brain. 124 (Pt 7): 1263–1289. doi:10.1093/brain/124.7.1263. PMID 11408323.

Top 25 Master’s Degrees in Music Therapy 2016

  1. State University of New York at New Paltz-New Paltz, New York - Master of Science in Music Therapy     
  2. Florida State University-Tallahassee, Florida - Master of Music in Music Therapy
  3. SUNY at Fredonia-Fredonia, New York - Master of Music in Music Therapy
  4. New York University-New York, New York - Master’s in Arts in Music Therapy
  5. Appalachian State University-Boone, North Carolina - Master of Music Therapy
  6. University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri - Master of Arts in Music: Music Therapy Emphasis
  7. Illinois State University-Normal, Illinois - Master of Music in Music Therapy
  8. Temple University-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Master of Music Therapy
  9. University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Minnesota - Master of Arts, Music Education-Music Therapy Emphasis-Post Board Certification Masters Track Master of Arts, Music Education-Music Therapy Masters Equivalency Track
  10. Molloy College-Rockville Centre, New York - Master of Science in Music Therapy
  11. Nazareth College-Rochester, New York - Master of Science in Creative Arts Therapy
  12. University of Miami-Coral Gables, Florida - Master of Music Degree in Music Therapy
  13. University of Iowa-Iowa City, Iowa - Master of Arts in Music Therapy
  14. Colorado State University-Fort Collins, Colorado - Master of Music, Music Therapy Specialization
  15. Ohio University-Athens, Ohio - Master of Music in Music Therapy
  16. Montclair State University-Upper Montclair, New Jersey - Master of Arts in Music Therapy
  17. St. Mary-of-the-Woods College-St. Mary of the Woods, Indiana - Master of Arts in Music Therapy
  18. Immaculata University-Immaculata, Pennsylvania - Master of Arts in Music Therapy
  19. Augsburg College-Minneapolis, Minnesota - Master of Music Therapy
  20. Maryville University of St. Louis-St. Louis, Missouri - Master of Music Therapy
  21. Lesley University-Cambridge, Massachusetts - Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Music Therapy
  22. Shenandoah University-Winchester, Virginia - Master of Music in Music Therapy
  23. Drexel University-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Master of Arts in Music Therapy and Counseling
  24. Texas Woman’s University-Denton, Texas - Master of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Music Therapy Dual Degree Program in Music Therapy and Counseling
  25. Sam Houston State University-Huntsville, Texas - Master’s Degree in Music Therapy

Scientists Just Used Brain Stimulation to Literally Change How People Think

SCIENTISTS JUST USED BRAIN STIMULATION TO LITERALLY CHANGE HOW PEOPLE THINK

The brain’s right hemisphere was more involved in changing behavior. Image credit: Robert Reinhart/Boston University

What if you could improve your mental aptitude and performance by directly stimulating specific parts of the brain? That's what a team of researchers from Boston University wanted to find out, and they developed an experimental procedure that can change how you think.

A team of researchers from Boston University (BU) has explored the possibility of enhancing a person’s ability to learn and control their behavior — in short, to change how people think — by stimulating the brain. BU researcher Robert Reinhart used a new form of brain stimulation, called high-definition transcranial alternating current stimulation (HD-tACS), to “turbo charge” two brain regions that influence how we learn.

“If you make an error, this brain area fires. If I tell you that you make an error, it also fires. If something surprises you, it fires,” Reinhart said in a BU Research press release, referring to the medial frontal cortex, which he calls the “alarm bell of the brain.”Reinhart and his colleagues found that stimulating this region, as well as the lateral prefrontal cortex, could change how a person learns. “These are maybe the two most fundamental brain areas involved with executive function and self-control,” he added.

In a study published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Reinhart’s team described how applying electrical stimulation using HD-tACS quickly and reversibly increased or decreased a healthy person’s executive function, which led to a change in behavior.

SMART CHARGE

Reinhart’s team tested 30 healthy people, each wearing a soft cap with electrodes that conveyed the stimulation. The test was simple: each subject had to press a button every 1.7 seconds. In the first three rounds of tests, the researchers either cranked up the synchronicity between the two lobes, disrupted it, or did nothing.

The participants’ brain activity, monitored with an electroencephalogram (EEG), showed statistically significant results. When the brain waves were upped, the subjects learned faster and made fewer mistakes, which they corrected abruptly. When it was disrupted, they made more errors and learned more slowly. 

What was even more surprising was when 30 new participants took an adjusted version of the test. This group started with their brain activity temporarily disrupted, but then received stimulation in the middle of the activity. The participants quickly recovered their original brain synchronicity levels and learning behavior. “We were shocked by the results and how quickly the effects of the stimulation could be reversed,” says Reinhart.

Although their study still leaves much to learn, the BU team was actually the first to identify and test how the millions of cells in the medial frontal cortex and the lateral prefrontal cortex communicate with each other through low frequency brain waves. “The science is much stronger, much more precise than what’s been done earlier,” said David Somers, a BU brain sciences and psychology professor who wasn’t part of the study.

The bigger question, Somers noted, is how far a person can go with such a technology. Who doesn’t want to have their brain performance enhanced? This could produce the same effects as nootropics or smart drugs, but with fewer potential side effects, as the brain is stimulated directly. Having access to such a technology could be a game changer — but just as with smart drugs, there’s the question of who should have access to such a technology.

Subliminal stimuli

SUBLIMINAL STIMULI

To fully understand how subliminal messages work, you first need to understand the difference between your conscious and subconscious mind.

The first mind we will talk about is your conscious mind, which also happens to be known as your logical mind. The reason it’s also known, as the logical mind is because this is where all your logical thought takes place.

It’s important to know that you are aware of any sort of message that is sent to your conscious mind and you should also know that getting change using just the conscious mind can be very difficult as it likes to do its best to resist change at all costs.

As for your subconscious mind, which happens to be also known as the unconscious mind, well that part of your brain isn’t capable of logical thought whatsoever and it accepts anything sent to it as true and it’s where all your beliefs are stored.

Also unlike with your conscious mind, you aren’t aware of any messages that are sent to your subconscious, however they still do end up having an effect on you.

The reason it’s important to know about the conscious and subconscious mind is because the technical definition of a subliminal message is that of a message that skips communication with the conscious mind and instead directly communicates with the unconscious mind.

What this means then, is that you aren’t aware of the actual messages being sent to you from a subliminal message because it communicates with the subconscious and as had already been said, you aren’t aware of any messages sent to this part of your brain.

As for how a message is made subliminal, well there is a number of ways to do so but when it comes to subliminal audio, it happens to be done by recording your voice and turn it at a frequency that the human ear just can’t pick up on consciously.

You may now be wondering what the actual messages contained in a subliminal audio track are and well they happen to be positive affirmations and the kind you will find in a weight loss subliminal audio are:

I can lose weight

My diet is very healthy

I love to exercise

Losing weight is easy for me

My motivation to lose weight is very high

How Subliminal Messages Can Help You To Lose Weight?

The reason right now you are finding it hard to lose weight is because your mind-set and belief system isn’t conductive for losing weight.

You see right now, your current beliefs have you thinking that you can’t lose weight and that exercising is boring and that sticking to a diet plan is torture.

And since our beliefs cause our actions, it’s no wonder you end up sabotaging your diet and can’t find the motivation to get to the gym.

The key to losing weight then is changing your mind-set and subliminal messages helps to do that.

It helps because when you listen to a subliminal audio track for weight loss, all these positive affirmations like the ones you saw above are sent to your subconscious and what ends up happening is your old beliefs get replaced with these new beliefs and because of that you will become someone who finds it easy to find the motivation to exercise and avoid junk food, so you just easily drop the pounds.

You may right now be thinking that subliminal messages are some quick fix kind of thing but the truth is they are not. You can’t just listen to the audio track once and expect to have a mind-set conductive for losing weight; instead it will take a number of listens to see results.

A study investigated the effects on self-concept of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and auditory subliminal stimulation (separately and in combination) on 141 undergraduate students with self-concept problems. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups receiving either Rational-Emotive Therapy, subliminal stimulation, both, or a placebo treatment. Rational-Emotive Therapy significantly improved scores on all the dependent measures (cognition, self-concept, self-esteem, anxiety), except for behavior. Results for the subliminal stimulation group were similar to those of the placebo treatment except for a significant self-concept improvement and a decline in self-concept related irrational cognitions. The combined treatment yielded results similar to those of Rational-Emotive Therapy, with tentative indications of continued improvement in irrational cognitions and self-concept from posttest to follow-up.

Another study investigated the effects of self-help tapes on self-esteem and memory. Volunteers who wanted to improve their self-esteem or memory were recruited and completed several self-esteem and memory tests before being given a self-help tape. Subjects were given a self-esteem audio tape or a memory audio tape, but half of the tapes were mislabeled and half were correctly labeled. After listening to the tapes daily for five weeks, subjects came back and repeated the self-esteem and memory tests. There was no significant change from the first set of testing to the second, although subjects believed that their self-esteem or memory improved based on which tape they believed they had, even when they had a mislabeled tape (those who had tapes labeled as self-esteem tapes felt their self-esteem had increased and the same with memory). This effect is often referred to as a placebo.There are multiple other studies on subliminal self-help with different measures and have given similar results.

80 % of Thoughts Are Negative…95 % are repetitive

In 1985, medical research conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine showed how internal and external dialogue significantly affects our blood pressure, hearts, and alter the biochemistry of individual tissues at the farthest extremities of our bodies.

In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article regarding research about human thoughts per day. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80%  are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before and about 80% are negative.

These studies reveal that the quality of our existence rests on the quality of our internal and external communication. It also reveals how our bodies respond to the way we think, feel and act. This is often called the“mind-body-spirit connection.” When we feel guilt and shame or stress and anxiety our bodies cry out to tell us that something isn’t right. For example, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer might develop after a particularly stressful event. 

If 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of them are repetitive, then we have a built in problem! From this perspective, we must identify this spiritual problem as a pervasive problem that infects our mind, will, emotions, physical body. It’s like a negative default programming that is hard wired into our entire being. It is not just a tendency to be negative or do a bad thing once in a while, it is a sinful nature that we are born with.

How do I change my thinking?

Dr. William Backus, psychologist, states that science has amply demonstrated that there is power in learning to influence behavior. In his book, Misbelief Therapy, he recommends a three step process:
1)Locate your misbeliefs
2) Remove them
3) Replace them.

For example: Jerry ended his marriage after 15 years because his wife no longer wanted to stay in the marriage. 
After his divorce, he experienced loneliness and self medicated using alcohol. He became depressed and decided to see a therapist. Once in therapy, he gradually began to see that this life didn’thave to be over. He started to see God again as the Giver of good, despite his unhappy circumstances. He explained it this way: One day while I sat groveling in my sorrows, I listened to the words I had been telling myself, things like Oh, what’s the use? I’m all alone. Nobody loves me or cares about me. Nobody wants to be with me. I’m rejected and useless… Suddenly I was shocked. I thought, what am I telling myself anyway?
Instead of saying,“I’m a failure and I’m no good,”    He said: “The marriage failed. But I am deeply loved by God. Therefore I am important.”
Instead of saying, “I’m so lonely and miserable,”    He said: “I’m alone but I am not lonely.”
Instead of saying, “I’m separated from my family and there’s no joy anymore for me,”    He said: “I’m separated from my family and that hurts. I can function even though I hurt.
 

The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work

Research is beginning to reveal that positive thinking is about much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude. Positive thoughts can actually create real value in your life and help you build skills that last much longer than a smile.

The impact of positive thinking on your work, your health, and your life is being studied by people who are much smarter than me. One of these people is Barbara Fredrickson.

Fredrickson is a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, and she published a landmark paper that provides surprising insights about positive thinking and its impact on your skills. Her work is among the most referenced and cited in her field, and it is surprisingly useful in everyday life.

Let’s talk about Fredrickson’s discovery and what it means for you...

What Negative Thoughts Do to Your Brain

Play along with me for a moment.

Let’s say that you’re walking through the forest and suddenly a tiger steps onto the path ahead of you. When this happens, your brain registers a negative emotion — in this case, fear.

Researchers have long known that negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When that tiger crosses your path, for example, you run. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. You are focused entirely on the tiger, the fear it creates, and how you can get away from it.

In other words, negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts. At that same moment, you might have the option to climb a tree, pick up a leaf, or grab a stick — but your brain ignores all of those options because they seem irrelevant when a tiger is standing in front of you.

This is a useful instinct if you’re trying to save life and limb, but in our modern society we don’t have to worry about stumbling across tigers in the wilderness. The problem is that your brain is still programmed to respond to negative emotions in the same way — by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options you see around you.

For example, when you’re in a fight with someone, your anger and emotion might consume you to the point where you can’t think about anything else. Or, when you are stressed out about everything you have to get done today, you may find it hard to actual start anything because you’re paralyzed by how long your to-do list has become. Or, if you feel bad about not exercising or not eating healthy, all you think about is how little willpower you have, how you’re lazy, and how you don’t have any motivation.

In each case, your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative emotions of fear, anger, and stress — just like it did with the tiger. Negative emotions prevent your brain from seeing the other options and choices that surround you. It’s your survival instinct.

Now, let’s compare this to what positive emotions do to your brain. This is where Barbara Fredrickson returns to the story.

What Positive Thoughts Do to Your Brain

Fredrickson tested the impact of positive emotions on the brain by setting up a little experiment. During this experiment, she divided her research subjects into five groups and showed each group different film clips.

The first two groups were shown clips that created positive emotions. Group 1 saw images that created feelings of joy. Group 2 saw images that created feelings of contentment.

Group 3 was the control group. They saw images that were neutral and produced no significant emotion.

The last two groups were shown clips that created negative emotions. Group 4 saw images that created feelings of fear. Group 5 saw images that created feelings of anger.

Afterward, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation where similar feelings would arise and to write down what they would do. Each participant was handed a piece of paper with 20 blank lines that started with the phrase, “I would like to...”

Participants who saw images of fear and anger wrote down the fewest responses. Meanwhile, the participants who saw images of joy and contentment, wrote down a significantly higher number of actions that they would take, even when compared to the neutral group.

In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that suggested positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.

But that was just the beginning. The really interesting impact of positive thinking happens later...

How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skill Set

The benefits of positive emotions don’t stop after a few minutes of good feelings subside. In fact, the biggest benefit that positive emotions provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life.

Let’s consider a real-world example.

A child who runs around outside, swinging on branches and playing with friends, develops the ability to move athletically (physical skills), the ability to play with others and communicate with a team (social skills), and the ability to explore and examine the world around them (creative skills). In this way, the positive emotions of play and joy prompt the child to build skills that are useful and valuable in everyday life.

These skills last much longer than the emotions that initiated them. Years later, that foundation of athletic movement might develop into a scholarship as a college athlete or the communication skills may blossom into a job offer as a business manager. The happiness that promoted the exploration and creation of new skills has long since ended, but the skills themselves live on.

Fredrickson refers to this as the “broaden and build” theory because positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.

As we discussed earlier, negative emotions do the opposite. Why? Because building skills for future use is irrelevant when there is immediate threat or danger (like the tiger on the path).

All of this research begs the most important question of all: If positive thinking is so useful for developing valuable skills and appreciating the big picture of life, how do you actually get yourself to be positive?

 

Brainwave Entrainment

BRAINWAVE ENTRAINMENT

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients' abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people's motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.

The Effects of Music on Memory

Memory is a mental system that receives, stores, organized, alters and recovers information from sensory input (Coon, 1997). Research has shown memory to be affected by many different factors. One of these factors is music, which has been found to stimulate parts of the brain. Many studies have demonstrated that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer`s and dementia patients. Music has also been found to reduce stress, aid relaxation and alleviate depression. This experiment placed 60 subjects into three different conditions based on the independent variable of music. The three types of the independent variable were "The Seasons (Spring Movement)" by Haydn, Holier Than Thou by Metallica and white noise. Each group visually studied a picture for 30 seconds with their specific music or noise in the background. After 30 seconds the picture was taken away and the music or noise was turned off. The groups then filled out a questionnaire about their memories for the picture. There was not a significant interaction found between the type of music or noise played and memory recall. However, the white noise group made the least amount of memory errors while the Haydn group made the most. These results contrast a lot of the research on the effects of music on memory. Much research states that music, especially classical, enhances the storage and recall of memory. There were some limitations to this experiment. Noise outside of the testing area was not controlled for. Also, subjects may have talked to one another about the

​questionnaire while filling it out. Further research may explain why the results of this experiment contrast much of the published research on the effects of music on memory.

Scientific Benefits Of Meditation

You’ve probably been told that in order to achieve happiness, you need to look inwards and meditate. While introspection (internal awareness) and meditation aren’t requirements to feel happy or live a great life, practicing meditation can lead to significant improvements in mental health (brain functioning) and physical health for certain individuals. Therefore it is recommended to (at the very least) consider taking up a consistent meditation practice if you are looking to improve measures of health.

 Although science has not accurately deconstructed every meditation technique and its effects, many studies have found that practicing meditation is generally good for your overall health and may even reduce your risk of mortality. That said, it is important to avoid clumping all meditative practices together in regards to suggested “benefits.” It is known that different types of meditation affect the brain in specific ways.

Below is a list of general benefits of meditation. Understand that certain benefits may be correlated with a specific subtype(s) of meditation rather than any type of meditation. This is a collective list of documented scientific benefits.

 

ADHD: It has long been established that certain types of meditation (e.g. Mindfulness) can enhance activity in the prefrontal cortex. While the prefrontal cortex may not be solely responsible for ADHD, it is thought to play a big part in inattentiveness and impulsivity. Consistently practicing Mindfulness or Focused-Attention meditation may improve both neurocognitive and behavioral problems associated with ADHD. Some consider meditation to be one of the best Adderall alternatives.​

 

Addiction: Those dealing with addictions often struggle to reduce cravings, cope with withdrawal symptoms, and reduce stress. There is some evidence that certain types of meditation can help with various aspects of addiction. Qigong meditation has been shown to be a highly effective adjunct strategy for drug addicts (particularly females).
Additionally using Mindfulness meditation has also shown significant preliminary promise. In the article how to overcome any addiction, I reference meditation as an essential tool.  I personally think that meditation can play a key role in overcoming any addiction and enhancing the process of self-directed neuroplasticity.

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Anxiety: A study with 93 individuals (2013) demonstrated that Mindfulness meditation for an 8-week period resulted in significant reductions in symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as well as stress reactivity. The reduction in anxiety is believed to be a result of meditation’s ability to increase activation in the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and anterior insula. Transcendental meditation studies (1,295 participants) demonstrated significant improvement in trait-anxiety greater than standard treatments.  Some actually have found that meditation works as a natural cure for anxiety when practiced consistently over the long-term.​

 

Blood pressure: Studies of meditation as a potential therapeutic treatment for hypertension (high blood pressure) have been inconclusive. At the very least, several have found noticeable (but not scientifically significant) benefit of incorporating meditation as an adjunct treatment tool. While as a standalone treatment meditation cannot yet be recommended, it does appear to be a helpful adjunct strategy.

Regular Transcendental Meditation (TM) has been suggested to possibly reduce systolic blood pressure by 4.7 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3.2 mm Hg. Other meditative practices such as Zen may also reduce hypertension. Even in middle-school aged non-hypertensive youth, a meditation program is likely to improve measures of blood pressure.​

 

Brain matter: It appears as though meditation can have profound effects on functioning of both white and gray matter of the brain. Not only does the practice tend to increase the efficiency of white matter functioning, but it prevents the atrophy of gray matter that tends to occur during aging.​

 

Brain activity: There are significant changes in brain activity as a result of long-term meditation. These changes are thought to be dependent on the specific type of meditation that is practiced. Over time, certain connections and regions are strengthened in the brain by the meditative practice, and other regions may become less active. Long-term meditation also is capable of altering electrical activity in the brain (i.e. changes the brain waves).​

                                                                                                                                                              

Cognitive function: In a 2012 study comparing those practicing Vihangam yoga meditation with those who didn’t meditate, it was found that the Vihangam yogis ended up performing better in all cognitive tests (except a “digit backward test” in which they still performed better but it wasn’t significant). This is another form of concentrative meditation and the results suggest that cognitive performance is enhanced by the practice.

Researchers also believe that meditation may help those experiencing cancer-induced cognitive dysfunction. Additionally Trataka yoga meditation has been shown to improve cognitive function in the elderly. While evidence may not be conclusive that meditation improves cognitive function in the young, it clearly is a cognitive enhancer among adults.​

 

Cortical thickness: A study comparing 46 adept meditators with 46 non-meditator volunteers demonstrated differences in thickness of various brain regions. An fMRI demonstrated that the meditation group had significantly greater: cortical thickness in the anterior regions of the brain (notably the frontal and temporal areas). Examples include: thicker medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal cortex, temporal pole, interior temporal cortex, and the middle temporal cortex.

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Chronic pain: Practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been shown to significantly improve a person’s ability to manage chronic pain. While it may not reduce the actual pain that is experienced, it improves a person’s ability to cope. A study published in 1985 with 90 chronic pain patients demonstrated that practicing Mindfulness meditation for a 10-week period resulted in improvements in: present-moment pain, negative body image, inhibition of activity by pain, symptoms, mood disturbances, anxiety, and depression. There is also evidence that practicing Vipassana meditation helps those suffering from chronic lower-back pain (CLBP).​

 

Creativity: There appears to be a link between Open Monitoring (OM) meditation and divergent thinking. Focused attention (FA) meditation resulted in increases in convergent thinking (logic), which is not associated with creativity. Researchers speculate that creativity may improve as a result of various forms of Open Monitoring meditation (e.g. Mindfulness). While all types of meditation may not directly improve creativity, many are associated with mood improvements, a factor which is associated with increased creativity.​

 

Decision-making: Researchers have been able to determine that Mindfulness meditation likely improves our ability to predict rewards. They believe that the improvements are due to the fact that in meditation alters neural processing. Specifically activity in the putamen and posterior insula are noticeably different, which leads to differences in interoceptive processes.

Researchers speculate that those adept in the practice of Mindfulness meditation are able to attenuate reward prediction signals to positive or negative emotional stimuli. Another study found that those practicing body-scan mindfulness have “reduced tactile misperception” as a result of interoceptive attention.

Finally in a study involving the “Ultimatum Game,” which tests responses to unfairness, meditators activated a different brain network than a control group. The meditators were able to act without being influenced by negative emotional reactions. Researchers believe that those practicing mindfulness meditation may end up making better decisions.​

 

Depression: Those suffering from an anxiety-induced form of depression will likely find benefit from meditation due to its efficacy in reducing anxiety. While meditation may not significantly improve depressive symptoms as a standalone treatment, there is significant scientific evidence supporting the usage of Mindfulness as an adjunct treatment for depression.

Secular practices of MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) as well as MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) have a broad-spectrum of antidepressant effects and tend to decrease measures of psychological stress. At the very least, Mindfulness meditation appears to be equally as effective as physical exercise as an antidepressant.

Interestingly enough, a Buddhist form of walking meditation (often called “Kinhin”) was found to be an effective antidepressant in an elderly population (ages 60 to 90) suffering from depression. The improvements were greater in the walking meditation group than just a standardized walking program.  In some cases, mindfulness works as a natural cure for depression when practiced over an extended period.​

 

Eating disorders: Meditation-based interventions have long shown promise in the lives of those with binge eating disorders. Nearly all studies incorporating mindfulness-based eating awareness training (MB-EAT) have discovered significant benefits of the practice. Training in mindfulness meditation and “guided mindfulness” were able to improve: emotional states, food choices, awareness of hunger vs. fullness, and self-acceptance. Binge eaters practicing mindfulness tend to binge eat significantly less than those who don’t.​

 

Empathy: There is significant evidence that frequently practicing “compassion” or LKM (Loving-Kindness Meditation) can increase empathy. It does this by increasing and strengthening activity in brain regions responsible for empathic responses. This specific type of meditation increases activity in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). Some researchers have gone as far as to speculate that LKM may increase oxytocin levels and decrease regional inflammation. There is even evidence that “brief” sessions of Mindfulness meditation can increase a person’s “empathic concern.”​

 

Fatigue: Meditation has been found to be an effective treatment for cancer-related fatigue (CRF). Patients with cancer tend to have persistent and disabling symptoms that they have a difficult time coping with. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has shown promise in reducing the CRF as well as related symptoms. Other studies assessing the efficacy of meditation on fatigue in those receiving radiation treatment for breast cancer also note improvements in energy levels as well as quality of life.

Furthermore, fatigue stemming from a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) makes it difficult to function. Researchers tested a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) protocol and noted that it improved measures of mental fatigue. It has also been discovered that while meditation may not significantly improve energy levels in those with chronic fatigue, a Mindfulness intervention does improve a person’s ability to cope with the condition.

Therefore if you are suffering from CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), incorporating a Mindfulness approach may be helpful.​

 

Fibromyalgia: Researchers have attempted to assess outcomes of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) protocol for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic pain and psychological symptoms. It was found that individuals who practiced MBSR reduced depressive symptoms in those with fibromyalgia.

Another evaluation determined that MBSR reduced the occurrence of major symptoms of fibromyalgia as well as subjective burden associated with the illness. This has lead scientists to conclude that a Mindfulness approach may be an effective adjunct therapy for those with this condition.

A third study demonstrated that interventions involving Qigong, Tai Chi, and Yoga were able to improve: pain levels, sleep quality, fatigue, depression, and quality of life among those with fibromyalgia compared to a control group. When each of these three practices were compared, it was found that Yoga produced the most benefit for pain, fatigue, and depression.

A small-scale study also found that yoga and meditation therapy improved symptoms of stiffness, anxiety and depression among fibromyalgia sufferers. Additionally those that underwent meditation and/or yoga therapy reported more “good days” than bad and missed work less due to their illness.

While these studies may not have had large sample sizes, they demonstrate the fact that a meditation or yoga practice can (at the very least) improve measures of certain symptoms. Meditation is likely not an effective standalone treatment, but it certainly can be used as an adjunct option without adverse reactions.​

 

Heart health: Just 15 days of practicing Pranayama meditation was found to improve cardiovascular functions – regardless of the person’s age, gender, or BMI. Pranayama meditation has also been found to reduce resting pulse rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean arterial blood pressure. Other studies have also discovered that Pranayama meditation is capable of improving overall pulmonary function.

Specific measures that improved included: PEF (Peak Expiratory Flow), FEF (Forced Expiratory Flow), as well as MVV (maximal voluntary ventilation). Many researchers believe that heart coherence is a notable biomarker associated with a meditative state. It is correlated with alpha waves and may increase heart-brain synchronization; which may further improve heart health.

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Immune system: In an 8-week mindfulness meditation training program, it was discovered that among healthy employees, those that meditated experienced improvements in both brain and immune function. It is believed that mindfulness influences the brain in a way that yields a favorable immune response from the body.

In a different study, those who practice transcendental meditation (TM) were found to have altered plasma levels of catecholamines and pituitary hormones compared to a control, which may account for better immune function. Researchers believe that practicing TM results in alterations in the levels of circulating lymphocytes. They speculate that this is due to TM’s effect on the neuroendocrine axis.

There is also a study that linked meditation to both positive psychological change and alterations in telomerase activity. Meditation increased a person’s feeling of “control” and also decreased negative emotions – both of which were thought to impact both telomere length and longevity of immune cells. Chronic psychological stress can have detrimental effects on telomerase activity and meditation practices are capable of mitigating stress.

Other studies investigating the effects of meditation on immune system disorders have found significant benefit. As an example, researchers took patients suffering from dermatomyositis and had them practice meditation with imagery. They found that the meditation practice had a direct, favorable influence on immune system function. Another study went as far as to suggest that yoga and meditation may help regulate levels of cytokines to improve immunity.​

 

Inflammation: A study demonstrated that those practicing meditation for a short-term or a long-term resulted in different temporal gene expression compared to novices. The relaxation-response associated with the meditative practice was able to reduce expression of genes responsible for producing inflammatory responses in stress-related pathways. Therefore the ability of meditation to enhance a physiological relaxation response is likely to reduce inflammation. Similar findings have been reported in studies involving yoga.​

 

Intelligence (IQ): Researchers have determined that there are relationships between age and fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is our ability to think with logic and solve problems in new situations regardless of our current knowledge. It helps us understand patterns and relationships and use logic to make sense of the findings.

Practicing mindfulness has been positively correlated with fluid intelligence. Researchers believe that mindfulness aids in the prevention of age-related fluid intelligence decline. Other studies have found that practicing meditation for at least one month can significantly increase IQ (intelligence quotient) and other aspects of cognition.

Another practice called “Saral Meditation” has been shown to improve development of intelligence as well as academic performance. Not only did it increase intellectual development, but it boosted levels of confidence and reduced anxiety. Researchers speculated that it may be a result of increased psychomotor abilities as a result of the meditation.​

 

Insomnia: There is significant evidence suggesting that insomnia is influenced by increased levels of arousal (both mental and physical). Practicing meditation or yoga is associated with reductions in both psychological as well as physical arousal. Many studies have significant evidence suggesting that consistently practicing meditation will reduce arousal and thus improve sleep time and quality among those with insomnia.

Studies involving Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) found that it could be a viable treatment for adults with chronic insomnia. Other studies have noted significant improvements in sleep quality among those with insomnia when MBSR is combined with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Furthermore, there appears to be a connection between the number of times a person meditates and their level of arousal.

Measures of: total sleep time, sleep onset latency, and sleep efficiency all improved significantly after an MBSR intervention. Other research has noted that those with insomnia tend to be “less mindful” than those who have healthy sleep patterns. Women suffering from postmenopausal insomnia have also been suggested to benefit from MBSR interventions.​

 

Memory: Research suggests that meditation is capable of preventing stress-related working memory impairments. Another study found that Mindfulness training is capable of improving GRE test scores in the areas of reading-comprehension and “working memory capacity.” These benefits were attained with just 2-weeks of adherence to a Mindfulness training course. It likely improves working-memory by reducing distractibility.

Even those who briefly practice mindfulness meditation tend to experience significant improvement in working memory. A different study found that young adults who had never practiced meditation before experienced significant improvements in memory scores. Meditation appears to improve memory without taking away the beneficial effects of stress.

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Neurodegeneration: As was already mentioned, there is less age-related gray matter atrophy among long-term meditators than those who don’t meditate. Meditation may be an effective preventative option for reducing the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. Some researchers (i.e. Newberg) believe that meditation techniques among those with neurodegenerative diseases can improve memory and attention.

It has also been suggested that meditation may reduce the likelihood of hippocampal atrophy as well as improve connectivity in regions of the brain most affected by dementia. Researchers conclude that meditation could aid in the mitigation of cognitive decline in elderly. In addition to potential prevention of neurodegeneration, meditation techniques may improve mental capacities among those with neurodegenerative diseases.

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Perception: It appears as though practicing meditation has an impact on your perception. The practice of Zen meditation leads to a perception of “inner energy” or “inner light.” Researchers pinpointed feelings of this “inner light” to alpha blocking on an EEG. Whether the perception of inner energy is of scientific benefit is subject to debate.

Another study found that those who practice mindfulness undergo internal changes in time perception. Researchers believe that due to the increase in attentional capacity and moment-to-moment awareness, time may seem to pass more slowly among meditators than non-meditators. This could be interpreted as a benefit for those who aren’t able to sustain momentary focus and as if time passes too quickly to get things done.​

 

Personality traits: There is evidence that meditation has potential to change various aspects of your personality – likely for the better. Those who practice Mindfulness tend to develop a healthier, more coherence sense of self or identity. Researchers suggest that they accept a greater sense of responsibility, are more likely to maintain authenticity, compassion, and accept themselves.

Frequent mindfulness meditation is associated with increases in personality traits of openness and extroversion. Researchers believed that neuroticism as well as conscientiousness experienced a decrease. They believe that practicing mindfulness meditation also results in greater curiosity and openness to new experiences. Those undergoing mindfulness training may worry less about achievements and negative emotions.

Among those practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM), it was found that a 6-month period of meditation resulted in significantly less neuroticism. The frequency of meditation appeared to be directly related to the degree to which the person was neurotic. More research on Mindfulness meditation utilized the 5-Factor Model of Personality and the Temperament and Character Inventory to assess changes associated with meditation.

Results indicated that this type of meditation resulted in healthier personality profiles. There also appears to be beneficial effects of a Mindfulness-Oriented Meditation (MOM) on the personality of those who are alcohol-dependent. Character scores improved significantly after 8-weeks of Mindfulness Meditation and reduced risk of relapse.

There is also evidence that Zen meditation is capable of changing personality measures based on the Temperament and Character Inventory. Researchers believe that it is a result of brain wave changes such as in both alpha waves and theta waves – specifically in the frontal areas of the brain. The slower brain waves as a result of meditation is associated with better internal attention and novelty seeking. The changes in brain waves may also result in alterations in neurotransmission of dopamine and serotonin.​

 

Sleep: Practicing cyclic meditation (CM) twice per day noticeably improved both objective and subjective measures of sleep quality. Researchers were able to track the sleep quality of participants by hooking up electrodes to various sites on the brain. The percentage of slow-wave sleep was significantly increased in the meditation group than the control group. The controls had a greater number of awakenings per hour as well as REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep.

There is also evidence that meditation can help boost mental performance following periods of sleep deprivation. Although even short-term meditators experienced slower baseline reaction times following periods of sleep deprivation, they were significantly quicker than a control group. The research demonstrated that even novice meditators could reap the benefits of improved mental functioning following periods of sleep deficiency.

In long-term meditators, several hours spent in a meditative state actually decrease need for sleep. Some could argue that the brain is refreshed or rejuvenated in similar ways to sleep following a long-term meditative practice. Mindfulness training may also improve sleep problems in older adults, reducing sleep-deprivation related impairment. Additionally as was already mentioned, meditation shows clear promise for treating insomnia.​

 

Social isolation / Loneliness: There are significant health risks associated with both social isolation and feelings of loneliness. Lonely adults tend to elicit an increase in inflammatory gene expression, which increases risk of mortality. A study testing an 8-week MBSR (Mindfulness) protocol found that it was able to reduce loneliness as well as inflammation in a group of 40 older adults.

There may be a direct connection between feelings of loneliness and inflammation, as well as inflammation-driven health concerns. Other studies involving LKM (Loving-Kindness Meditation) practices found that it is possible to generate feelings of social connectedness. Just a few minutes of LKM is capable of increasing feelings of social connection and positivity toward novel individuals. Researchers concluded that practicing LKM is likely to increase positive social emotions and reduce social isolation.​

 

Stress: Practicing meditation is thought to elicit a moderate effect of stress reduction. A meta-analysis of Mindfulness meditation demonstrated that anxiety scores were “moderately” improved. Other research has shown that greater mindfulness resulted in less stress; there appeared to be a direct relationship based on the number of meditation sessions per week.

Although meditation may not eliminate all stress, it should be considered as a treatment option for reducing detrimental health effects of psychological stressors. In addition to mindfulness training, Transcendental Meditation (TM) programs have shown success in reducing psychological stress among teachers and staff working at a school geared towards students with behavioral problems.

In addition to reducing work-related stress, meditation programs (MBSR) have been shown to improve stress reactivity and ability to cope in laboratory-designed stress challenges. Those dealing with significant chronic stress may find that meditation reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, decreases cortisol, and improves performance and ability to cope with stressful scenarios.​

 

Well-being: Meditation is associated with a variety of health benefits, all of which may contribute to an individual’s overall subjective and objective “well-being.” Mindfulness training is reported as being effective in the management of stress as well as low mood – which results in improvements in well-being. Loving-Kindness meditators may experience changes in metabolism of nitric oxide as well as transmission of oxytocin – which may account for increases in well-being.

A study analyzing Vipassana meditation suggested that those who practiced Vipassana show “significantly increased well-being and decreased ill-being.” This may be related to changes in parasympathetic functioning, attentional capacities, and heart-rate variability among meditators. Researchers concluded that practicing mindfulness is associated with nearly “all measures of well-being” and lower perceived stress.​

Types of Meditation

MEDITATION

Most people tend to believe that all types of meditations are the same. It is common to hear about the benefits of “meditation,” but most people don’t know that there are different benefits to be obtained based specifically on the type of meditation practice pursued. One person may practice Vipassana meditation a.k.a. “mindfulness” and reap numerous benefits, while another may practice Transcendental meditation (TM) and get an entirely different beneficial effect.

Brain wave activity appears to be different based on the specific type of meditation practice you implement as do the areas of increased activation. If you practice Vipassana meditation for a long time, your brain activity will be significantly different than someone who practiced transcendental meditation for an equal period of time.

Mindfulness Meditation

Procedure of Mindfulness Meditation

  • This type of meditation is commonly practiced sitting with your eyes closed in a comfortable position with the back straight. All attention is focused on the “breath” or abdominal area during which you are inhaling and exhaling. A person focuses on the breath as they inhale and exhale through the nostrils.

  • Each time a distracting thought comes up that deters your focus from breathing, you simply notice that you became distracted, but don’t react to it – instead remain non-judgmental. Be mindful of any thoughts, but simply refocus your attention on your “breath.” Each time you get distracted, shift your focus back to the breathing.

 

Brain Activation of Mindfulness Meditation

  • Thicker right insula: The right insula is involved in cognitive-emotional processes such as empathy and self-awareness.

  • Right temporal area: The right temporal area is involved in processing the sense of hearing. It appears as though activation increased following this type of mediation.

  • Right parietal area: This is a region involved in processing touch that appears to experience greater activation when a person has engaged in Vipassana mediation.

  • Thicker right frontal cortex: The right frontal cortex is a brain area involved in focusing and directing attention. Activity increased among those who practiced Vipassana mediation.

  • Realize that certain types of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are thought to benefit most from Vipassana or “mindfulness” practices. 

Brain Waves (EEG Patterns) of Mindfulness Meditation

  • Mindfulness meditation tends to result in increased activation within the left frontal lobe as well as within the motor system.

  • Left frontal activity: Increased activity within the left-prefrontal cortex is associated with positive affect and happiness. People who suffer from depression tend to have underactivated left-prefrontal regions.

  • Motor system: The sites “C3/C4” on a QEEG tend to become increasingly active during this type of meditation. These are areas within the motor system associated with moving your right hand.

Transcendental Meditation

Procedure of Transcendental Meditation

  • is perhaps the most popular type of meditation and among the most widely researched techniques. The technique is generally taught by an instructor, but involves sitting in a comfortable position, turning attention inwards, and after you’re comfortable, you repeat a mantra. When first starting out, you can repeat the mantra aloud, but eventually you can do this silently.                                      

  • You repeat the mantra at a comfortable pace, effortlessly – without forcing it. You simply continuously repeat it, which makes the mind continuously focused on the mantra. This mantra is generally given by an instructor, but you can find your own if interested. The goal is to continue repeating the mantra effortlessly, without a need to become over-focused on it.

  • As your mind continues to be engorged in the mantra, you enter a deeper state of emptiness. Like all types of meditation, you’ll encounter thoughts that distract you. Simply acknowledge them, and return back to the mantra. Some have compared transcendental meditation as being like a bath for the brain. Most people repeat this practice for 10 to 20 minutes, twice per day.

Brain Activation of Transcendental Meditation

  • Frontal activity (increase): There is a marked increase in activity within the frontal lobes of the brain. The frontal areas are involved in focusing attention and advanced cognitive function.

  • Parietal activity (increase): There is also an increase in activation within the parietal regions of the brain. Activity in this area helps us recognize objects in the environment.

  • Thalamus activity (decrease): The thalamus is known as a major sensory area of the brain, and tends to experience decreased activation with long-term practice of TM.

  • Basal ganglia activity (decrease): The basal ganglia is involved in controlling voluntary motor movements, procedural learning, and emotion. This area experiences decreased activity with practice of TM.

Brain Waves (EEG Patterns) of Transcendental Meditation

  • Alpha waves: By practicing transcendental meditation (TM), you will ultimately be increasing the coherence of alpha brain waves. Coherence simply means that the brain waves are being transmitted across both hemispheres of the brain, thus improving neural communication across a greater distance.

  • Frontal lobes: The increase in alpha waves as a result of TM does not occur with other meditative practices.

  • Posterior attention networks: The synchronization tends to occur within posterior attention networks, possibly increasing the efficiency of processing within this region.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Procedure of Loving-Kindness Meditation

  • This type of meditation is commonly described as the logical deconstruction of the reality of objects experienced in meditation and additionally, concentration to develop emotions such as compassion, loving-kindness, or selflessness. Advanced Tibetan Buddhist meditators are able to focus their attention and ultimately control their mind, which involves intense concentration.                     

  • They then focus on feeling love and compassion towards themselves. Once loving-kindness to the self-has been established, the meditator will then direct this emotion of loving-kindness towards another person and/or those in their environment. The end result is feelings of happiness and a heart-centered positive emotion towards yourself and others.

Brain Activation of Loving-Kindness Meditation

 

  • Frontal activity (increase): When focusing attention on a task, the frontal areas of the brain become increasingly active. As a result of this particular type of meditation, frontal activity tends to increase. Specifically there was significantly greater activation in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area associated with positive emotions and self-control.

  • Thalamus activity (increase): Activity in the thalamus tends to increase as well in contrast to the practice of TM in which that particular region experiences a decrease in activation.

  • Parietal activity (decrease): This is an area of the brain that helps us to recognize objects in the environment, visual attention, and spatial orientation. Activity seems to decrease in this area with practice of loving-kindness meditation.

 

Brain Waves (EEG Patterns) of Loving-Kindness Meditation

 

  • Those who practice loving-kindness meditation tend to display higher-than-average amplitude of 40 Hz gamma waves. These are associated with advanced perceptual functions, binding of information, as well as intelligence. Those who have mental deficits tend to elicit significantly less 40 Hz activity throughout their brain.

  • Gamma waves: Brain waves displayed by those engaged in “unconditional” loving-kindness or compassion types of meditation tend to display significantly more gamma activity. It tends to be synchronized within the frontal and parietal regions of the brain.

  • The increase in gamma waves may result in superior ability to focus, may create a more accurate perception of reality, and may lead to emotions of bliss. Those with better memory functions tend to have greater 40 Hz activity than those with average or poorer memories.

 

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