By Connie Ogle
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new book called “Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body” separates truth from fiction, debunking studies and highlighting truth about meditation’s startling effects on the brain. It also takes a look at myth of multitasking.
So you fell asleep easily enough, but now it’s 3 a.m. Your mind is spinning, and rest is elusive.
You’re reliving every foolish or embarrassing thing you did in the past 24, or 48 or 72, hours, and that is a lot of material to run through. And you simply can’t stop.
Except maybe you could, if only you knew how to be mindful.
“When you’re caught in that loop of rumination, that’s very real, and it creates very intense feelings,” explains psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman, who reported on brain and behavioral sciences for the New York Times.
“If you’re mindful, you realize it’s just a thought. You don’t have to believe your thoughts. You can question them, and that changes them. It takes energy from the brain that creates the heaviness. Looking at it in a different way makes the rumination less intense.”
You might think, on hearing such praises of mindfulness, a form of meditative practice, that it will solve just about every problem in your life. Meditation can halt the late-night rumination cycle, right? So can’t it also make you into a better person? Enlarge your brain? Make you taller and thinner and richer?
Well, no, says Goleman, who’s also the author of the best-selling book “Emotional Intelligence.” Some claims of meditation’s power are overblown. Some studies are less rigorous than they should be. But science has proven that meditation can induce healthy and important physical improvements, such as lowering your blood pressure, decreasing relapses into depression and managing chronic pain.