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A.Kyan's picture

Re: Brain Activity

To further add to fMRI's mapping brain activity, there have been recent studies using this technique to see what parts of the cortex are activated during meditative states.  (My paper is on this topic.)  It is very exciting that scientists are finding concrete evidence that meditation can improve memory, concentration, and attention areas of the brain.  Similar to working out your muscles, meditation is like a workout for the brain.  One can also think of professional muscians or athletes who have very active parts of the brain due to more use than the average person.  I wonder if our brains can be taxed too much to the point it gets injured or worn down like a sports injury.  We all feel mentally tired after studying for long hours or taking an intense exam.  Can our brains ever burn out from overuse?

It made me think of how I felt at the end of my four-month meditation retreat.  I was considering extending my stay for up to a year, but I was starting to feel extremely exhausted- mentally (plus I had school to come back to).  Actually, it was very peaceful to be in deep concentration most of the time, but who thought sitting/walking in meditation 14 hours/day could become tiring on the mind eventually?!  (The monks who were my teachers said that it's normal for the mind to become tired after a few months of intense training, then I didn't feel like such a lame-ass!)

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