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Scores of research studies have demonstrated positive effects of meditation on biological, neurological, mental, emotional, social and behavioral well- being of the mediation practitioners. A research study done at Emory University in Atlanta confirms the residual effects of two forms of Meditation. Mindfulness Meditation and Loving Kindness Compassion Meditation. The first group was designed to cultivate skills of focused attention and non-judgmental awareness of breathing, bodily sensations, thoughts and, emotions. The second group was designed to cultivate loving kindness meditation. Twelve participants in each group who had not gone through Meditation training before were the subjects of the research study. One group went through 8 weeks of Mindfulness Meditation training program. The other group went through 8 weeks of Loving Kindness Compassion Meditation training program. The third control group took a health education course for eight weeks.
There were 12 participants in each group. Three weeks before the study began, the study participants were administered fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging}. The brain scan provided baseline data of the study participants.
Three weeks after the training program the participants in each group were administered fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging test. The participants of both meditation groups showed decrease in the right amygdala in response to emotional stimuli. Amygdala plays an important part in emotion and memory. The participants were given an assessment tool to check the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress before they went through meditation training. They were given the same symptoms assessment test after they completed their meditation training. The decrease in the amygdala activity is correlated with decreased depression and anxiety scores. Meditation helped the meditators for creating emotional stability. When the participants in the Loving Kindness and Compassion Meditation were shown images depicting some form of suffering, they showed enhancement in compassion for the people going through suffering. Showing compassion for others may also be beneficial not only for the receiver but also for the giver. Both groups showed remarkable reduction of stress symptoms.
The findings showed the positive and enduring effects of meditation. The studies show that both forms of meditation result in enduring changes in the brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.