Meditation: A Key for Unlocking the Human Brain
Interview with Dr. Shanida Nataraja, author of The Blissful Brain
Author: Jair Robles
Practicing some technique that allows quieting the mind and stilling the body has been a fundamental part of most spiritual traditions. And their benefits are said to be many and varied. But for a long time, these reports have mostly come from those who actually practice such techniques and the religious or philosophical texts that promoted them.
It was until very recent times that science began to look into the veracity of such claims and attempted to understand both the physiological as well as the psychological effects that such practices have on those who practice those techniques.
In an effort to compile the most important findings from such research, and increase our acceptance and understanding of the positive effects that meditation has on our body and minds, Dr Shanida Nataraja published a book called, The Blissful Brain.
Dr Shanida Nataraja has a BSc (First Class Hons.) in Human Science and Neuroscience and a PhD in Neurophysiology, both from University College London. She is currently Editorial and Scientific Director in a global healthcare consultancy firm and is also a member of the Scientific and Medical Network, an organization “promoting open exploration in science and human experience, whose common objective is to deepen understanding in science, medicine, and education through both rational analysis and intuitive insights.”
SuperConsciousness recently spoke with Dr Shanida Nataraja, about the most recent scientific findings on the connection of meditation and the brain as well as the implications that such understanding could have on healthcare, education and our spiritual development.
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SuperConsciousness: How did you become interested in doing research on the relationship between meditation and the brain?
Dr Shanida Nataraja: I grew up in a household in which meditation was very much part of everyday life. Both my parents meditated and I was therefore exposed to a number of different meditative traditions as I was growing up. At school, I became entranced by science and this interest led to me doing a PhD in neuroscience to deepen my understanding of how the brain gives rise to the human behavior that we can see. It seemed almost a natural step for me to turn my attention to meditation, to explore whether meditation has any effect on the brain, and, if so, what did that mean for us as human beings.
SC: At what age did you start meditating?
SN: I meditated on and off when I was a child. I was very musical at a young age, and playing the piano and singing were my way of de-stressing and centering myself. I think it was one of those things whereby, when you are a child, you don’t necessarily want to do what your parents do. So it was really only in my twenties that I would say I started practicing mediation regularly.
Read the whole interview.