How Meditation Makes Us Feel “At One,” Conquers Loneliness
How Meditation Makes Us Feel "At One," Conquers Loneliness
Dealing With Loneliness
To be a happy and healthy human, most of us know that we need to sleep well, eat right, and exercise.
However, very few of us realize just how important "human connectedness" is to our overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being. We are social creatures after all.
According to a highly referenced 300,000+ person study published in the esteemed 'PLOS Medicine' journal, people with the most social relationships (both quantity & quality) are not only much happier, but live 50%+ longer (!) than the rest of us lonely folks.
Another study by UCLA Professor of Medicine Dr. Steve Cole showed that "feeling connected" to others strengthens immunity, while other studies have cited lower levels of anxiety and depression, higher self esteem and empathy, the list goes on.
Because of the human mind's tendency to obsess over the past and worry about the future (instead of simply being present), too much time alone can have real mental and physical health consequences.
How Meditation Trains The Brain To Overcome Loneliness
Thinking back, when were your happiest times? For most folks, those precious, magical moments with beloved friends and family quickly come to mind.
Whether we are playing games, eating, drinking, talking, or laughing with our loved ones, the natural human connection we feel anchors our awareness firmly into the present (instead of worrying and obsessing when alone).
While the very best cure for loneliness is a strong "in-person" social network (i.e. not Facebook) and a loving family, this isn't possible for everybody. Unless we go back to tribal living like our ancient ancestors, a more realistic solution is ideal.
Luckily, neuroscientists are on it. When we feel isolated and separated from the "whole," one particular brain region (the "parietal lobe") becomes overheated.
To prevent your car engine from burning up, you need a good radiator. To ensure loneliness doesn't roast your brain, you need to keep your parietal lobe calm, cool, and collected. Thankfully, meditation is up to the task.
Meditation Is Your Best Friend
A University of Pennsylvania scientist, Dr. Andrew Newberg, took brain images of Tibetan Monks during meditation. As expected, their "highly intelligent" frontal lobes lit up the screen, just like countless other studies had shown.
However, what surprised him most was that the meditators' "third-dimensional" based parietal lobes cooled off immensely, which is the same area that loneliness and social isolation brings to a boil.
Dr. Newburg, now a bestselling author, writes "When people lose their sense of self [in meditation], feeling a sense of oneness, [this] results in a blurring of the boundary between self and others...[with] no sense of space or passage of time."
By making us feel connected to everyone and everything, meditation cancels out the detrimental mental, emotional, and physical effects of loneliness. You know, that problem plaguing more than half of modern society.
While friends come and go, meditation will always be there for you.