Re-Factor Your Brain: Meditation For Geeks

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Meditation is the ultimate open source tool. You can do it anywhere and it’s free. It requires only your brain and your body. It’s positive effects are numerous, including increased productivity, better problem-solving and a reduction in overall stress. Learn about long-term effects of mediation on the brain, some meditation techniques and how mediation can help you do your job better.

Text of Re-Factor Your Brain: Meditation For Geeks

Re-factor Your Brain:Meditation for Geeks

Christie KoehlerOpen Source Bridge

June 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Part 1: How I Started


Friday, June 19, 2009

Mindball in Vancouver

Lower alpha & theta waves = better (more focused, more relaxed). I lossed twice!

Meditator(my partner)


Friday, June 19, 2009

My Conclusions

Huh, maybe there is something to this mediation thing...

Friday, June 19, 2009

So I Started Meditating

Calmer Clearer thinking,

better able to concentrate

Less reactive Better able to


Friday, June 19, 2009

Part 2: What is Meditation?

Friday, June 19, 2009


is the settling and focusing of the mind has been practiced for thousands of years spans many traditions (religious and secular) has many forms (insight, transcendental,

mindfulness, etc.)

has many goals (enlightenment, union with god, stress reduction, pain management, etc.)

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Ultimate Goal

to transform the baseline state of experience such that there is no

distinction between meditative and non-meditative state

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through sustained, dedicated practice over a significant

length of time

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Part 3:What Does Science Say About Meditation and

the Brain?

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different types of meditation and training duration lead to

distinguishable short- and long-term changes at the neural level

Briefly, it says:

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2 Categories of Meditators

Focused Attention (FA) and Open Mind (OM)

Many traditions utilize both styles, at once or over time

Friday, June 19, 2009

Focused Attention (FA)

Maintain attention on a single object (e.g. the breath sensation)

Detect thoughts and other distractors through non-judgmental cognitive appraisal (e.g. Im writing code)

Disengage from distractors and re-orient focus to original object (return to sensation of the breath)

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Open Mind (OM)

No explicit focus on objects (listening to the room)

Non-reactive/Non-judging monitoring of experience (not judging the noise, letting it arise)

Non-reactive awareness of automatic cognitive and emotional interpretations stimuli (take note of any judgements)

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How Neuroscientists Study Meditators

Subjective tests (perception) EEG (electrical activity) fMRI (blood flow/area of activity) MRI (structural changes)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Subjective Tests

Our brains constantly have to make sense of incomplete stimuli.

The way in which we perceive this stimuli says a lot about how are brain works.

Long-term meditators are better at perceptual challenges than non-meditators.

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Subjective Tests

Attentional blink Binocular Rivalry Motion induced blindness

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EEG: Gamma-Synchrony

Gamma rhythms: binding of different populations of neurons together into a network for the purpose of carrying out a certain cognitive or motor function

Gamma function related to neuro-plasticity (the ability of the brain to change itself)

Long-term meditators had greater gamma-synchrony during meditation and at rest

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less emotionally responsive when presented with conflicting stimuli

suggests a partial de-coupling mental processes interpret and respond to perceptual stimuli

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Long-term OM practitioners are more adept at detecting and feeling human emotion (greater empathy)

OM meditators showed superior performance on a sustained attention task in comparison with FA meditators when the stimulus was unexpected (more distributed attentional focus)

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Cortical region of the brain thicker in meditators than in non-mediators.

Difference was greatest in older meditators (offsets thinning due to aging).

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Part 3: How to Meditate

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How to Meditate

Many different forms Try a few, pick one that resonates Stick with it for a while Try a little bit each day Its work, exercise for the mind

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More Resources

Attend a local meditation group Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, Shunryu Suzuki Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon-Kabat Zinn Mindfulness in Plain English, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Thich Nhat


Meditation and the Neuroscience of Consciousness by Antoine Lutz, John D. Dunne, Richard J. Davidson (in the Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness)

Train your Mind, Change your Brain by Sharon Begley

Friday, June 19, 2009