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Mindful : August 2014
Meditation 20 years of research on meditators new and old: How meditation works in the brain; the benefits of various practices; which practices are best for which people, and how they can use them in their daily lives—in schools, doctors’ offices, hospitals, workplaces, and more. Health Ongoing studies on how meditation can modulate inflammatory conditions, as well as asthma, chronic pain, and response to pain. Stress Investigating brain circuitry related to psychological stress and negative emotion; producing neurally inspired therapy to increase emotional resilience. Mental Health Documenting brain circuitry in depression, anxiety disorders, and autism—understanding the causes of suffering and how it can be reduced; improving concentration in chil- dren and adults using both tradi- tional meditation and video games designed to cultivate mindfulness. Neuro- plasticity Discovered that training the mind, even for 30 minutes a day, can result in measurable changes. Conducting brain training, using meditation, cognitive- behavior therapy, and more, to help regulate emotions, reduce stress, and even cultivate compassion. 1976–1992 Between 1976 and 1992 Davidson probes the emotional brain and catalyzes the new field of “affective neuroscience”—the understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying emotion. 1992 Meets with the Dalai Lama and three scientists to propose a study of several long-term meditators. It marks the beginning of Davidson directly studying the effects of meditation on the brain. 2001 Tibetan monk Matthieu Ricard arrives at Davidson’s lab in Madison to have his brain monitored before, during, and after meditation. 2000 Davidson receives the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, for Lifetime Achievement from the American Psychological Association. Dan Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, refers to Davidson as “scientist-savant—born to be at the top of his field.” The description is apt. His curriculum vitae clocks in at 87 pages and bristles with achievements. His influence is seen in many of these important research areas. RICHIE DAVIDSON’S SPHERES OF INFLUENCE 2004 Davidson and his colleagues publish the first scientific article on changes in the brain during meditation in long-term Tibetan practitioners in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.