Posts Tagged ‘prefrontal cortex’

Dr. Norman Rosenthal gives an engaging talk to medical staff at Northern Westchester Hospital

February 22, 2012

Dr. Norman Rosenthal addresses medical staff at NWH

Dr. Norman Rosenthal recently gave a wonderfully engaging talk on the Transcendental Meditation technique to the medical staff of Northern Westchester Hospital as part of their Health Education program.

Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, a world-renowned psychiatrist and author who described seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pioneered the use of light therapy to treat it has improved the health of millions of people. His latest book Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation (Tarcher-Penguin, 2011) explores the value of this ancient meditation technique for healing and transformation in today’s modern world.

Dr. Rosenthal began his talk by highlighting the key themes of healing and transformation brought about by TM, and explained how certain parts of the brain are effected by stress and improved by meditation. He humorously described the conflict that exists neurologically in a stressed mind between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala by using the simple analogy of the CEO of a company and the fire marshall. It made a lot of sense. Everyone got it.

Drawing on anecdotes from his best-selling book, Transcendence, Dr. Rosenthal’s relaxed narrative style held the audience’s attention throughout the presentation. He shared personal stories of how TM had improved the lives of those interviewed for the book, like Hollywood filmmaker David Lynch, actress Laura Dern, Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Tim Page, neuropsychologist William Stixrud, as well as patients from his own practice.

A former NIH researcher, Dr. Rosenthal had looked into, and was impressed by, the volume of scientific research studies on TM in the fields of mental and physical health, education and social behavior. He cited some of these studies, including more recent ones.

Dr. Rosenthal also mentioned a published pilot study he had conducted on Veterans with PTSD that showed a 50% reduction in symptoms within two months. He posted an article about it on his blog, along with an emotionally-charged video of one of the Veterans and his mother:  The Case for Using Transcendental Meditation to Treat Combat Related PTSD.

He told the amazing story of Jim Dierke, principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School, and how he had transformed violent, stressed under-achieving, low-attending students to motivated harmonious academically successful ones with the highest attendance ever, after he had introduced the TM/Quiet Time program to his staff and students. The program was implemented and funded by the David Lynch Foundation. Here is a recent article, with a video of principal Dierke, posted on the TM Blog: Breaking the “predictive power of demographics”: SF principal talks about how TM helps his students.

Dr. Rosenthal also shared his own story of how he started TM as a college student in South Africa back in the 70’s. “As they say, if you remember the 70’s you probably weren’t there, but I was there,” he quipped, and giggled. Like most of us he was inspired by the Beatles traveling to India to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. But, he says, he was overwhelmed with his medical studies and didn’t take the time to meditate regularly. He dropped the meditation, yet returned to it decades later after one of his patients recommended he do it based on his own experiences. He went to the local TM center to refresh his practice. After looking into some of the research studies, and noticing subtle yet lasting changes in his own life, he was convinced that this simple, natural process could really make a difference in people’s lives.

Dr. Rosenthal swore he would never write another book; it takes too much time and energy, but after seeing how much of a difference TM was making in his life, and in the lives of his patients, he just had to write this one last book. He felt as compelled to write about TM as he had been about his earlier medical discovery. He was also pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable the whole process went, compared to earlier experiences. He felt the joy of being in the flow, of being in the moment, totally engaged in the creative process. He said the whole experience was very rewarding, uplifting and fulfilling.

He concluded his talk with the value of groups, organizations, practicing TM together, and the impact that has. As an example he mentioned Oprah and how she chose to give TM to her whole organization, and the amazing transformations that brought about. She wrote about it in her magazine, What I Know for Sure.

You can enjoy watching Dr. Rosenthal’s entertaining and informative presentation here on the Northern Westchester Hospital website: http://www.nwhc.net/home/about-us/video-suite/health-education.

Credit and appreciation goes to Sally Rosenfeld, a Certified Teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program, in Westchester County, NY, for arranging to have Dr. Rosenthal speak at Northern Westchester Hospital. Sally said it was a great event, with around 100 people attending from both the hospital and community. Several of them later came to the TM Center to learn how to meditate. Considering how progressive NWH is with their alternative offerings, adding the TM program to the mix would seem like a natural outcome of the meeting.

Post Traumatic Stress and How Transcendental Meditation Can Help [Infographic]

November 12, 2011

Post Traumatic Stress and How Transcendental Meditation Can Help [Infographic]

Over half a million of our Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). It stopped me in my tracks when one of my patients said, “it can happen once in your life, but one hundred times in your mind.” The echoes linger on… This is a very serious dilemma not only for our nations veterans, but for countless individuals that have experienced any variety of serious trauma in their lives. The stress surrounding the attacks from 9-11-2001 are a great example of this type of trauma on a much grander scale.

Post Traumatic Stress and How Transcendental Meditation Can Help [Infographic] is an informative graphic portraying the seriousness of Post Traumatic Stress and how Transcendental Meditation can help folks to cope with this disorder. Click on this link to see the infographic: http://www.normanrosenthal.com/blog/2011/11/post-traumatic-stress-and-how-transcendental-meditation-can-help-infographic.

Brought to you by Norman Rosenthal MD.

Traumatic stress is a type of stress that exists on an entirely different level than that of the stress you and I encounter on a daily basis. Our bodies do not know how to process the impact that these scarring events have had on us, and in return the impression left on the brain is one that needs healing and recovery to restore its natural state of holistic functioning.

My desire is to help to provide individuals with the best tools available in treating and alleviating these serious mental and physiological patterns. With knowledge, guidance and practical tools we can start to reduce the painful flashbacks from our stress born incidents of the past. A little bit of specific help to restore hope, restore balance and restore the quality of life for the millions of people who are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress.

If you found this infographic informative please feel free to embed it on your website or share it on the social networks using the functionality seen below.

Wishing you Light and Transcendence,

Norman

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Resources:
1) Learn more about Transcendental Meditation here.
2) Learn more about what the David Lynch Foundation is doing for our
Veterans at Operation Warrior Wellness.
3) Below is a relevant video titled: Mother of Iraq War Vet says Transcendental Meditation Saved Her Son’s Life

PTSD Infographic
Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder-PTSD-Transcendental-Meditation Brought to you by Norman Rosenthal MD.

THP: Keeping Your Prefrontal Cortex Online: Neuroplasticity, Stress and Meditation

August 12, 2010

Keeping Your Prefrontal Cortex Online: Neuroplasticity, Stress and Meditation

As we go through life, our brain is always changing and adapting, say neuroscientists. During the first 18-20 years of life the brain is developing circuits that will form the basis of decision-making for a lifetime. Brain researchers have found that unhealthy lifestyles can inhibit normal brain development in adolescents and lead to impaired judgment and destructive behavior that carries over into adulthood. Traumatic experiences, alcohol and drug abuse, growing up neglected in a broken home, living in fear of violence and crime, or even a bad diet can interfere with development of the frontal lobes, the brain’s executive system. This can cause behavioral problems. Brain researcher Dr. Fred Travis explains: “When a person’s frontal lobes don’t develop properly, he lives a primitive life. He doesn’t — and can’t — plan ahead. His world is simplistic, and he can only deal with what’s happening to him right now. Thinking becomes rigid: ‘You’re either with me or against me,’ or ‘Me and my gang are good, and everyone else is bad.'”

The good news: meditation improves brain function

Brain researchers have also found that the brain can be changed in a positive direction through healthy lifestyle choices. This ability of the brain to reorganize its network of neurons is called “neuroplasticity.” Studies recently published in Cognitive Processing show that brain development can be enhanced — not only during adolescence but at any age — through the practice of meditation, and that different meditation techniques have different effects on the brain. For example, during the Transcendental Meditation (“TM”) technique there is increased alpha coherence in the brain’s frontal areas. “Within a few months of practice of the TM technique,” says Travis, “we see high levels of integration of frontal brain connectivity. And interestingly, that integration does not disappear after meditation. Increasingly and over time, this orderly brain functioning is found in daily activity.”

When the different parts of the brain are better integrated they work together more harmoniously — our brain is healthier. Higher levels of brain integration are associated with higher moral reasoning, emotional stability and decreased anxiety, according to a 1981 study in the International Journal of Neuroscience. Research shows that world-class athletes have higher brain integration than controls. Brain integration is important because one’s environment and circumstances are constantly shifting, and you need a flexible, integrated brain to successfully evaluate where you are, where you want to be and the necessary steps to get there.

Keeping your prefrontal cortex “online”

The prefrontal cortex — said to be the brain’s executive center or “CEO” — plays a crucial role in higher judgment, discrimination and decision-making. When we are overly tired or under intense mental, emotional or physical stress, our brain tends to bypass its higher, more evolved rational executive circuits, defaulting to more primitive stimulus/response pathways. We respond to challenges without thinking, making impulsive, shortsighted decisions. When the brain’s CEO goes “offline,” strong emotions such as fear and anger can adversely color or distort our perception of the world. Interestingly, the brain’s crucial frontal area is where the highest levels of EEG coherence are typically recorded during TM practice, indicating improved communication between the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain.

When a person transcends during meditation (goes beyond the active levels of the mind), the experience is commonly reported as a state of deep silence and inner wakefulness, without particular qualities or attributes — just pure consciousness. According to research studies, such as the previously mentioned study in Cognitive Processing, it is this ‘transcendental’ experience that creates the more efficient, integrated brain functioning seen during TM practice. While focused attention and other mental processes activate local brain areas, the experience of transcending activates the whole brain, enabling different parts of the brain to function together better as a whole.

Helping kids grow healthier brains

Fortunately, transcending is easy — we’re hardwired for it. With proper instruction and right practice, anyone can do it, including students with ADHD. Experiencing the quiet, transcendental field of orderliness deep within the mind doesn’t mean conjuring up a new outlook on life or accepting new beliefs, nor does it require an attitude change. It’s a natural, universal experience that produces a healthy response in the brain.

With help from the David Lynch Foundation and other private benefactors, thousands of at-risk students are now learning meditation during structured, in-school programs around the world. Researchers monitoring the results are finding that meditation improves learning ability, memory, creativity and IQ. Findings such as these may be opening a new frontier of research — establishing an expanded, more enlightened view about what is possible for the human brain.

VIDEO of Dr. Fred Travis, Director, Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition in Fairfield, Iowa: Brain Plasticity and Transcendental Meditation with Dr Fred Travis.

 

Read More: Meditation, Neuroplasticity, Transcendental Meditation, Living News

Also see: THP: How Meditation Techniques Compare


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