Braaten Discusses the Benefits of Mindful Meditation

On Wednesday, April 21, Professor of Psychology Rick Braaten discussed the relationship between meditation and wellness. Braaten first began by discussing the evolution of the mind. He explained that humans have had to adapt in the way they think about the past and present, language and symbols and their thoughts in relation to others. However, he also noted that humans have a “wandering mind,” which facilitates many negative thoughts, such as avarice, fear, pain and selfishness.

After discussing the human mind, Braaten shifted the focus of his talk to meditation. He explained that meditation has three main components: posture, breath and mind. Braaten described one’s posture as relaxed and straight and one’s mind as solely focused on his attention to breathing. 

“If something comes into the mind, you must go back to the attention to breath,” Braaten said. 

Because of the intense attention to breath, Braaten described the close relationship between mindfulness and meditation, as one must stay focused and becomes aware of the mind’s activities. 

Braaten prefaced his discussion with the statement “meditation can cure all of our problems.” He elaborated more on this in his empirical explanation between mediation and wellness. He explained alterations that have taken place and immune systems of those who meditate. Additionally, some studies have shown that meditation activates parts of the brain that create feelings of contentment among certain individuals. 

Braaten concluded his talk by giving the reasons mediation works for conditioning, exposure, insight and nonattachment. While exposure exposes one to unpleasant states that often reduces their effects after a period of time, insight gives individuals an understanding of their feelings. Braaten also explained that nonattachment provides the opportunity for bare attachment and the ability to set aside any preferences or discriminations. Braaten’s final word of advice was that one “must practice to learn meditation.” He emphasized that one must experience it rather than just learn about it. 

Sophomore Belle Banta attended the lecture to learn more about meditation and its effects.

“I was very intrigued by the relationship between meditation and contentment,” Banta said. “While I have only meditated a couple times, I am definitely going to do so more often after hearing its effects on wellness.”