Harvard Medical School’s neuroscientist Sara Lazar was one of the first scientists to accept the claims about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and test them using computerized tomography. According to Lazar’s research, meditation can literally change your brain, either cognitive and emotionally.
Lazar’s lab group incorporates measures of peripheral physiology such as breathing and heart beat in order to understand how meditation practice influences the brain-body interaction .
Motivation for the research came from personal experience
Lazar started to do yoga as a therapy after training for the Boston Marathon “I realized it was very powerful, I had real benefits, so I was interested to know how it worked. The yoga teacher used several arguments, saying that yoga would increase compassion and open the heart. And I thought, “ok, ok, ok, I’m here to lengthen… But I began to realize that I was calmer. I was better able to handle more difficult situations. I was more compassionate and more open heart, and able to see things from the point of view of others. I thought, maybe it was just a placebo response. But then I did a literature search of science, and saw evidence that meditation was associated with decreased stress, depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and increased quality of life, she declared to the Washington Post.
This work is funded by grants from NIH-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Lazar’s research link: http://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/~lazar/