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Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 10, 2020 11:04PM

Vox News

Are We Morally Obligated to Meditate?

[www.vox.com]

Friends, we need to regard meditation as we do any medication that is powerful enough to have an effective greater than can be accounted for by placebo effect, w results replicated via double blind testing by different researcher in a variety of settings.

The drift of the Vox article is that meditation brings desirable effects by reducing limbic system reactivity to perceived threats.

However, due to the largely positive media coverage meditation receives, Corboy urges us to regard mediation as any other soothing drug.

* Undesirable side effects

* Some threats are real and if we don't react vigorously via dismay, disgust, fight or flight, we are unable to defend ourselves and others from abuse/exploitation.

*These days lots of companies recommend meditation to employees to help them cope w stress.

Corboy suggests why not make the workplace less stressful?

But...that costs lots a money. So much cheaper to teach meditation to "help" your employees adjust.


Tranquilizers do ease suffering. In the wring hands, tranquilizers are used to dope us. Tranquilizers require oversight.

Food for thought

* There's lots if money in meditation. It is now commodified.

*What kinds of people are involved in the Meditation Industry?

* The United States of America was created by malcontented people who were ignorant of meditation.

The Revolutions of 1789 in France and 1688 in England were created by persons ignorant of mediation and angered by unfair salt tax burdens(France) and intrusive policies of a king who was a religious bigot (England)

France, America and England and Germany, all cultures based on non Asian religions were discontented enough w pain and social misery to want to reduce them, creating clean water supplies and public health.

Through non caste cultures, mechanics and scholars befriended each other and in this Western context printing developed, launching the first information revolution making it possible to correct errors, communicate findings, and led to modern science.

People who felt threatened by premature death, workplace hazards, who wanted a fair days wage for a fair days work, created disaster relief, workplace safety laws and regulatory agencies.

And cults use meditation to blunt our awareness.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2020 11:50PM by corboy.

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: zizlz ()
Date: January 11, 2020 02:24AM

It's usually better to look at what the study actually says, instead of what a journalist makes of it, the latter often being a misrepresentation.

This is the study's abstract:

[www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

Quote

The amygdala has been repeatedly implicated in emotional processing of both positive and negative-valence stimuli. Previous studies suggest that the amygdala response to emotional stimuli is lower when the subject is in a meditative state of mindful-attention, both in beginner meditators after an 8-week meditation intervention and in expert meditators. However, the longitudinal effects of meditation training on amygdala responses have not been reported when participants are in an ordinary, non-meditative state. In this study, we investigated how 8 weeks of training in meditation affects amygdala responses to emotional stimuli in subjects when in a non-meditative state. Healthy adults with no prior meditation experience took part in 8 weeks of either Mindful Attention Training (MAT), Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT; a program based on Tibetan Buddhist compassion meditation practices), or an active control intervention. Before and after the intervention, participants underwent an fMRI experiment during which they were presented images with positive, negative, and neutral emotional valences from the IAPS database while remaining in an ordinary, non-meditative state. Using a region-of-interest analysis, we found a longitudinal decrease in right amygdala activation in the Mindful Attention group in response to positive images, and in response to images of all valences overall. In the CBCT group, we found a trend increase in right amygdala response to negative images, which was significantly correlated with a decrease in depression score. No effects or trends were observed in the control group. This finding suggests that the effects of meditation training on emotional processing might transfer to non-meditative states. This is consistent with the hypothesis that meditation training may induce learning that is not stimulus- or task-specific, but process-specific, and thereby may result in enduring changes in mental function.

I'm not sure what conclusions we can draw from this, but I don't think all of your conclusions are warranted.

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Corboy
The Revolutions of 1789 in France and 1688 in England were created by persons ignorant of mediation and angered by unfair salt tax burdens(France) and intrusive policies of a king who was a religious bigot (England)

They may have not meditated regularly but it's likely that they prayed regularly. Do you know if studies have been done that examine the effect of regular prayer on the right amygdala response? It might have the same effect.

And how likely was the average Asian citizen to meditate regularly? Wasn't meditation mostly practiced by monks and warriors?

The right amygdala is mainly involved with the fear-response. If meditation causes a reduced fear-response, that may help explain why meditation is often incorporated into Asian martial arts.

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Corboy
Tranquilizers do ease suffering. In the wring hands, tranquilizers are used to dope us. Tranquilizers require oversight.

But are tranquilizers similar to meditation? The fact that tranquilizers aren't incorporated into martial arts probably signifies that at least in some way the effects of tranquilizers and meditation are dissimilar.

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Corboy
France, America and England and Germany, all cultures based on non Asian religions were discontented enough w pain and social misery to want to reduce them, creating clean water supplies and public health.

If those facts are indeed linked to differences in religion, that still may have nothing to do with meditation. It seems more plausible to me that it has to do with a belief in reincarnation and karma. A belief that the suffering people experience is the result of actions from past lives might well cause people to be less compelled to change the circumstances that cause that suffering.

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Corboy
Through non caste cultures, mechanics and scholars befriended each other and in this Western context printing developed, launching the first information revolution making it possible to correct errors, communicate findings, and led to modern science.

Western culture was also a caste culture, with strict separation between social classes (e.g. aristocrats and peasants).

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: facet ()
Date: January 11, 2020 11:47PM

Hey all,

Through experience, cult persons or controllers etc want an empty space to fill. No thinking, less brain activity means more compliance for the one who wishes to manipulate and control.

When they say stop thinking, it’s seen as a lovely gesture to get you to relax. It is more about another’s wish to control. Not only in the sense that they may not be able to or want to deal with what you’re processing (remember, real emotions and deep stuff is not the co trollers cup of tea), though in the sense of banishing your processes in order to fill your head with theirs instead, whatever that may be.

Meditation is lovely, though for me (I appreciate and respect not everyone) at the end of it, all we are really doing when absent of thought is playing with its chemical balance.

Rational fears are definitely meant to be with us. They are not meant for stepping over, which is why I still respect a cliff edge when appreciating the blissful view. It is all part of us, I do not believe that denying our humanity gets anyone anywhere.

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: zizlz ()
Date: January 12, 2020 12:25AM

In my experience, an effect of regular meditation that endures when not meditating, is an increased ability to recognize that you are thinking when you are thinking. This increased awareness of thought also increases the awareness of the option to drop a train of thought when it's useless. The result is an overall decrease of mind-wandering (a link between regular meditation and a decrease in the Default Mode Network has been found in other studies).

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facet
Rational fears are definitely meant to be with us. They are not meant for stepping over, which is why I still respect a cliff edge when appreciating the blissful view. It is all part of us, I do not believe that denying our humanity gets anyone anywhere.

When you're lost in thought and suddenly you hear a loud noise in the vincinity, you'll probably more startled than if you were in an alert state of mind. So there's less right amygdala response to stimuli in people whose minds aren't wandering. That doesn't mean you deny your humanity, it just means you're more alert. Neither does it mean you're less capable of responding to threats, though it might mean you're more capable.

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facet
Through experience, cult persons or controllers etc want an empty space to fill. No thinking, less brain activity means more compliance for the one who wishes to manipulate and control.

Yes, I totally agree with that. Meditation, or any other means to prevent people from thinking critically, are used to control people in cults. In my case it was the cult-leader constantly talking in a fascinating but indoctrinating way. Getting people in a state of physical exhaustion is another example of a means of preventing people from thinking critically. Or instilling dogmas into people. You can see in most religions how effectively dogmas can be used to prevent people from thinking critically.

That doesn't mean meditation works like a tranquilizer. But like anything, meditation can be abused.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/12/2020 12:28AM by zizlz.

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: zizlz ()
Date: January 12, 2020 01:04AM

One more thing I'd like to add: the abuse of meditation seems to go hand in hand with presenting meditation as some kind of panacea for the psyche. Psychoanalysis helped me become aware of serious emotional issues I had repressed since childhood. Before going into psychoanalysis, I had already done years of daily meditation, but none of that helped me see my psychological blind spots. I think people who are attracted by cults often have psychological issues they have to deal with, and when the cult tells them they can fix themselves by meditating, they are led astray. Also: there's many ways to meditate, including wrong ways. I know someone who got into some kind of trance-like state during meditations, where there was little or no thought, but not much awareness or clarity either. So on second thought I have to agree that in some cases meditation can be a bit like a tranquilizer. But generally I don't think that's the case.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/12/2020 01:05AM by zizlz.

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: facet ()
Date: January 12, 2020 01:20AM

Hi Zizsls, hope that you are well :-)

I am sorry to hear what you have been through. It’s like a big brain invasion isn’t it!

I see what you are saying with being more alert, hence less jumpy, however it is that jumpy that is needed to get me the hell out of there if it’s a danger. These days, I couldn’t care if it’s a foolish fight or flight over a necessary one.

If someone is walking up behind me and I tense ready to kick their ass, and then find it’s not a problem, it’s fine by me.

I know that there are studies that say the reptilian brain should be done with and we do not need it, however I do not feel the same. If we didn’t need it, we wouldn’t have it.

I felt it’s just a shame that we get so bothered by our natural human capabilities just because they’re not in major use at the moment.

This is what I mean by humanity. It is very easy to meditate ourselves out of things that are necessary to keep us personally safe. If jumping around at my own shadow or not, I know I’m here. Functioning. Feeling, within my own autonomy.

If somebody turns up and I am jumping around in some way, I can say to myself it’s time to go. This isn’t right for me. In the meditative state, this autonomy is lost because I cease to make choices, there is nothing there.

Nice, but not forever, and certainly not in this day and age with all of the outer possibilities.

When ceasing to make choices, ceasing thought, from what I personally discover it is that neural pathways also cease. Strong ones persist and may arise from long ago. It is the ultimate brain hack. Hence we then try to create new ‘lives’ though all it is is the neuroplasticity.

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: zizlz ()
Date: January 12, 2020 01:49AM

Quote
facet
Hi Zizsls, hope that you are well :-)

I am sorry to hear what you have been through. It’s like a big brain invasion isn’t it!

I am well, thank you! A big brain invasion, yes that's how it felt!

Regarding the enduring effects of meditation: I think it's just the non-functional thought that decreases, the "filler-thought", so to speak. Meditation can be like embracing stillness. When you no longer fear stillness, you don't need repetitive useless thoughts to keep stillness away. We tend to be so identified with our conceptual notions of ourselves that just to feel good/safe, we have to keep juggling thoughts that revolve around this self-concept (e.g. thoughts about what people think about us and how we can improve that). Maintaining the self-concept is a large part of the Default Mode Network brain activity (a decrease of which is linked to regular meditation).

I don't think being less lost in thought makes people less reactive to danger. A quick Google Scholar search led me to this study that found that meditators have a significantly faster reaction time:
[journals.sagepub.com]

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: zizlz ()
Date: January 12, 2020 02:32AM

Here's an article that discusses exactly what we're talking about:
[www.headspace.com]

Quote

Frequent social media use may have seemingly innocuous consequences like the fear of missing out or comparing yourself to others, but the stress and anxiety caused by those feelings (and our responses to them) have much broader implications. Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly discusses this with students and the general public. “We’re anxious,” Winston said at a recent daylong retreat, “It’s OK. It’s normal and appropriate. We’re living in stressful times.” Even though anxiety is an appropriate response to a threat, she said, “It often gets out of control.”

[...]

This fear response is the result of an influential neurological tango. One partner in this tango, located in front of the brain’s temporal lobes, is called the amygdala. Responsible for the perception of emotions, including fear, anger, sadness and the controlling of aggression, the amygdala is our threat detection control tower. It is crucial in protecting us from perceived danger (eg. staying out of a slithering snake’s path) and recognizing similar events in the future (eg. steering clear of snakes in general). It is fully developed at birth and it’s a deeply primal part of our neural structure. Often referred to as the reptilian mind, it exists in all vertebrates and, while it protects us from imminent danger, it often causes hyper-reactivity when it dances solo.

The other tango partner, called the prefrontal cortex, is located just behind the forehead. It is responsible for many higher level-thinking skills, including analytical processing, executive decision-making, and behavior modification. It keeps areas of our brain like the amygdala in check, instructing our brains as one researcher describes it, “I know it’s a snake, but it’s behind a piece of plexiglass, so we’re OK.” Greater activity in the amygdala and lower activity in the prefrontal cortex has been linked to aggressive behavior, increased anxiety and a lack of ability to make sound decisions. As opposed to the amygdala, it isn’t fully developed until a person’s mid-20’s. This means the choreography for the neural tango doesn’t approach balance until the third decade of life, assuming no history of trauma, neglect, or underlying mental health conditions.

[...]

The RAIN technique, and mindfulness meditation in general, becomes a powerful tool to supersede our more primal threat-based reactivity and replace it with more thoughtful responsiveness. In fact, after studying MRI scans before and after an 8-week mindfulness course, University of Pittsburgh researchers found that the amygdala of study subjects appear to shrink in volume, while the prefrontal cortex becomes thicker. Mindfulness practice, in effect, increases one’s ability to engage higher order, prefrontal cortex regions and reduce lower-order brain activity.

[...]

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facet
I know that there are studies that say the reptilian brain should be done with and we do not need it, however I do not feel the same. If we didn’t need it, we wouldn’t have it.

What this article seems to be saying is that we are living in stressful times, and as a result the amygdala is overactive, causing more stress and anxiety than is good for us. It doesn't say that we don't need the amygdala, but that it would improve our wellbeing if the amygdala was less dominant in relation to the prefrontal cortex, and meditation and other mindfulness techniques can help us achieve that.

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: zizlz ()
Date: January 12, 2020 03:39AM

One more article quote and then I'll shut up about this. According to this article, prayer has the same effect as meditation, i.e. reduced amygdala response and increased prefrontal cortex response. So Corboy's comparison of Western and Asian culture, linking the differences to meditation, needs more evidence, since prayer has the same effects and has historically been widely practiced in the West.

[www.themindfulword.org]

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But the study’s main finding was that prayer and meditation are so similar in the brain that we can describe prayer as a type of meditation. And this should be encouraging, because research shows that meditation is one of the best things you can do for your brain—right up there with reading and physical exercise. Neuroscientists have found that people who pray regularly have thicker grey matter in their prefrontal cortex (that’s your brain’s CEO, responsible for focus and willpower) and their anterior cingulate cortex (the part of your brain responsible for compassion and empathy). The heightened activity in these key parts of the brain also reduces the responsiveness of the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for fear and anger). You could almost say that consistent meditation makes you a better person—more focused, more compassionate, and less likely to be angry or frightened.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/12/2020 03:41AM by zizlz.

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Re: Meditation reduces reactivity to perceived threat
Posted by: facet ()
Date: January 12, 2020 03:59AM

Thank you for sharing your finds, I enjoyed reading them.

Ok, so with the last article it seems that it is that we are to adapt to stressful situations that we are now faced with?

I understand about the heightened activities, though where I am in learning at the moment would be to say that our responses, however heightened, shouldn’t be ignored, which would be a cause of the overproduction of stress and anxiety in the first place.

When something isn’t working in some way, and there is a stress response that is overridden in order to adapt, is it not that there is a resurgence of the same thing? Causes not dealt with, signals to change something increasing?

In meditation I was definitely less reactive to danger. I was still present, though my danger zones were really switched off. I couldn’t have cared less hehe.

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