Many of us have been there: we’ve taken up meditation, followed the practice to the letter, but just couldn’t get into the proper state, or didn’t achieve any tangible benefits. It is, however, important to remember that each of us are different, with different minds, and thus may need a different practice to follow.
Thankfully, the development of meditation by numerous cultures across history has produced a myriad of different practices, ranging from the classical concept of Buddhist meditation, physical practices such as yoga, recitation of the rosary, and even modern-day jogging. Now, the findings of a new study show that different types of meditation can affect different parts of the brain, suggesting that different forms of meditation might work differently for different people.
This new study, conducted through the University of British Columbia, analyzed the data and conclusions of 78 separate previous studies on the effects of meditation on the brain. The individual studies covered a wide range of meditative practices, allowing this study’s researchers to map out the effect each form of meditation would have on the brain.
They discovered that four of the main meditative practices studied — focused attention, mantra recitation, open monitoring, and loving-kindness/compassion, produced "dissociable patterns of brain activation and deactivation", meaning clear patterns were being recorded in the brain scans of the participating subjects. An additional three practices, visualization, sense-withdrawal, and non-dual awareness, were also found to provide suggestive evidence for specific neurological effects.
While there was a certain amount of overlap in what area of the brain each meditative practice affected, many of the practices affected their own individual areas, suggesting that different practices can produce different effects. As each of us have unique neurological, psychological and physical makeups, the results of this study imply that while one form of meditation mightn’t resonate with a given individual, another form might have a profound effect on that same person.