Well Being is a Skill: Dr. Richard Davidson

The Summary:
I watched a video by Dr. Davidson and summarized its contents for you below.  I am also including a link to the video, in case you prefer to watch it for yourself.

A study was done on the neuroscience behind wellness.  In that study, 4 characteristics were determined to be factors in overall wellness.  The first characteristic was resilience, which is the body’s ability to recover quickly from trauma and adversity.  The second characteristic was the ability to have a “background glow”, a basic belief in the innate goodness of life and people.  The Third trait was generosity.  ATTENTION was the final trait.  

The study found that the average adult spends 47% of their day with their mind wandering, and during that time of their minds wandering, they felt unhappy.  Turns out that when our thoughts wander we tend to experience dysphoric emotions (unease, unhappy).  When we keep our thoughts anchored in the present moment, we tend to be happier.  Meditation is way to train our brains to stay focused in the present moment, and to increase our ability to pay attention.

A different study was conducted to test how people responded to pain.  The test group was made up of long time meditators.  The control group was made of similarly matched age and gender people, but they did not meditate.  Each group was given the an audible warning tone 10 seconds prior to the pain being delivered (heat source), and their brain activity was monitored using MRI scans. 

The control group showed a great deal of activity starting with the warning tone and did not have a quick recovery time.  In fact, in the control group, the same activity pattern the brain showed DURING the pain also occurred as soon as the audible warning was given. So this group basically experienced the pain before, during, and after the pain was actually delivered.

The long time meditators showed little activity after receiving the warning tone, a big spike during the pain itself, and little activity once the pain stopped.  So they had a very fast recovery time, and their brain did not react before the pain was actually delivered.  They were more RESILIENT because of their long time practice of meditation.

Our ability to be resilient in the face of adversity, and our ability to focus our attention in the present moment, are just two of the four basic pillars of wellness.  

In My Opinion:
These two studies offer proof that meditation is important to our overall wellbeing, and not just some “fun thing to do” or a “quiet couple of minutes”.  

While many of you reading this may already understand the benefits of mediation, you may also be hesitant to implement it in your classrooms.  Now, with research to back it up, you can justify the incorporation of meditation in your room.  Meditation on a regular basis can help you, and your students, change the baseline of your "norm", moving you from a stress "norm" to a more "coherent" norm.  Or, moving you from a sensitized stress response to a more neurotypical stress response.