Video and Audio

Meditation and the Brain

Dr. Peter Van Houten
October 10, 2017

The Science Behind Meditation Symposium
How Meditation Can Change You — and the World
Nov 17 – 19, 2017
A deeper understanding of meditation: what actually happens physiologically, neurologically, metabolically, genetically, energetically, and quantum physically.

For literally thousands of years great spiritual teachers of all religions have proclaimed that meditation is the way to optimal health of body, mind, and soul. These ‘anecdotal’ reports were not sufficient for the scientists, and questions regarding meditation went unanswered.

For the past 15 years or so the medical profession itself, along with great scientists in many areas, have been asking questions regarding meditation and its possible use as a treatment modality for various conditions.

Now, scientific evidence from well-designed studies — including images of the brain — is emerging. Some of these studies suggest that meditating for as little as 20 minutes daily can affect the function and structure of the brain in a positive way and that meditating for even short periods daily can have profound effects on many and varied medical and psychiatric conditions.

Who do you want to be in 6 months? Whether we intend to or not we will be different six months from now. Your brain and body constantly change over time and we understand now that we can influence how we will develop. Since the early 1980s the scientific community has understood that the brain is incredibly plastic and re-programmable. Since then, there has been a broader understanding that significant permanent personal transformation is a real possibility.

Meditation and spiritual practices have been extensively studied and have been proven to bring about specific significant changes in the brain and body, some of which are permanent. We will review how brain structure and function are changed by meditation practices over time. We will discuss the specific parts of the brain that are transformed in this process. Much has been discerned about different types of meditation and their effects on the nervous system as well as the amount one needs to meditate to bring about significant changes in brain and behavior.

We will also review the new science of epigenetics and how our genetic material can be modified by meditation and lifestyle. This transformed genetic material can be passed on to our offspring in this new state. Lastly we will look at our recent understanding of the interplay between the body’s microbiome and our nervous system function and how spiritual practices may affect this.

Find out more at: www.ananda.org/science-behind-meditation

Dr. Peter Van Houten
Medical Doctor and Founder of the Sierra Family Medical Clinic

Dr. Peter Van Houten is a family physician with close to 40 years of real world experience in primary care medicine. He is nationally known for his pioneering work integrating meditation and behavioral healthcare into the medical setting. Sierra Family Health Center, which is the clinic he founded in 1982, has been widely seen as a leader in this field. His background includes his medical training at the UCSF School of Medicine. He has published two books promoting yoga as a therapeutic tool which focus on treatments for common medical problems like insomnia and headaches. These were among the first books ever published bringing yoga therapy into the medical office setting. He has lectured extensively on the transformation in brain function brought about by meditation and spiritual practices. Well-known for his charitable works, Dr. Van Houten’s clinic cares for a large indigent population in Northern California using cutting edge behavioral therapies as well as traditional medicine.

Peter has co-authored Yoga Therapy for Headache Relief and Yoga Therapy for Overcoming Insomnia. He also maintains an active interest in ongoing research into the subtle and powerful relationships between brain physiology and personal spiritual development.