Caveman To Astronaut: How Meditation Brightens Humanity’s Future
The "Fear Center" Amygdala — How Meditation Transforms Your Stress Response, Ends Anxiety
Our Brains Are Still Wired Like Cavemen
"That saber tooth looks like he wants free-range human for breakfast. Better grab my spear or get ‘outta here!"
Considering what they dealt with on a daily basis, our primitive hunting and gathering ancient ancestors certainly needed homed-in survival instincts.
To avoid becoming just another prehistoric lunch statistic, our neanderthal forefathers needed within their noggin a highly evolved "fear center" amygdala. They did, and it served them well.
The problem is, our brains are still wired much like our stone-age ancestors. While we live in modern cities free of lions, tigers, and bears — our job stress, money problems, and relationship quarrels still trigger our "fight or flight" fear response eight days a week.
With an estimated eleventeen-zillionstudies pointing to stress as the #1 cause of disease, figuring out a way to downsize our primitive amygdala is critical to the future of mankind.
It appears that we can take the "Caveman out of the Cave," but we can't take the "Cave out of the Caveman."
Or can we? Stop the record. Science has discovered a way. It's called meditation.
Bust Stress Forever By Changing Your Brain
In 2011, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers fMRI brain scanned 51 adults before and after 8 weeks of mindful meditation training. What did they find?
A staggering discovery, the greenhorn meditators had effectively silenced the "electrical activity" within their primitive amygdala(e), and in effect, had far fewer "anxiety, worry, and fear signals" bouncing around their beautiful brains.
However, what shook the neuroscientific community to the core was that the participants had dramatically decreased (!) their amygdala(e) size/volume. And it didn't take years either, they accomplished this amazing feat in less than two months!
The implications of this finding are tremendous. Knowing that it's possible to, like a light switch, turn off our primitive "caveman brain," we can bulletproof ourselves to the well-documented negative effects of stress — with anxiety, depression, and addiction the first moles to get whacked.
The Power Of Meditation: From "Caveman" Brain To "Astronaut" Brain
But there's more. Other studies have found that meditation grows and "thickens" our prefrontal cortex. What's that, you say?
From dark caves to sunlit skyscrapers, from incoherent grunting to the world wide web, from the muddy riverbanks to the far reaches of the solar system — we owe our prefrontal cortex a debt of gratitude.
In essence, by shrinking our "Neanderthal" amygdala and growing our "Homo sapien sapien (yes twice)" prefrontal cortex, is meditation the secret to time-warping evolution?
Can meditation shift humanity into a peaceful, space-faring, "Star-Trek-like" Type I civilization, as envisioned by Russian astrophysicist Dr. Nikolai Kardashev?
One thing's for sure, planet earth could certainly use a little less "caveman" brain and a little more "astronaut" brain.