While conservatives and the religious right in this country continue with what Time Magazine’s Joe Klein recently called a “celebration of ignorance” by “denying evolution, denying the science behind climate change, the birtherism”, etc., some of us may be getting smarter without even knowing it.
I’m not sure what folks who follow a certain faith-based political agenda think of spiritual practices like meditation, but I have a feeling most of them don’t like it too much. Probably offends them somehow.
But, this week Time’s online Heathland section has an article titled “Can Meditation Make You Smarter?”
Numerous studies suggest that regular meditation (about six hours a week) may actually change brain structure. Scientists have found meditation is associated with a thicker cerebral cortex and more gray matter — i.e., the parts of the brain linked to memory, attention span, decisionmaking and learning. But a year of silent meditation isn’t always necessary. One study found people who meditated at least once a week for four years showed increased cortical gyrification, the folding of the cerebral cortex that helps people process information.”
The author of this piece, Laura Schwecherl, acknowledges that no one is sure exactly how meditation changes the brain, but apparently focusing one-pointedly on a single object or thought “alters our neural networks.” Nothing is guaranteed, of course. But studies have shown that positive changes in the brain are associated with meditation. The other caveat, though, is that no one knows how long these changes last.
I have to admit that I’m a bit skeptical about any claim that meditation will make you smarter. But I recently read that Bill Clinton, who’s already pretty smart, just hired a Buddhist monk to teach him meditation. It’s true. So I plan to keep an open mind. Hey, look at what’s happened to Clinton and these other folks after just a few weeks of mindfulness meditation:
Bill Clinton decided to change the focus of his Global Initiative!
Carrot Top was awarded a Nobel Prize!
Flo, the girl in Progressive Insurance commercials, was invited to give the Harvard commencement address!
Mitt Romney found a conviction!
Prince Charles decided to apply for Muammar Gaddafi’s old job!
Unfortunately, even a three year meditation retreat didn’t seem to help this poor creature named Snooki . . .
And, as they used to say at the Warner Bros. Cartoon studios