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Mediation and the anatomy of violence

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In studies like those presented in Adrian Raine’s - The Anatomy of Violence, it is hinted that certain areas of the brain are related to violent behavior, and that working with these areas one could possibly resolve or lessen the tendency to violent behavior. Raine notes that the areas related to critical thinking are often underdeveloped in the violent criminal.

Yoga and meditation tout a paradigm whose philosophical and psychological theory lend a framework to our understanding of meditation, and that paradigm is the chakras. One’s attention, on a less than conscious level, for the most part, remains in the lower parts of our body, the lower nerve plexuses, and relationally, the more primitive areas of our brains. These lower plexuses relate to our basic urges for food, sex, sleep and self-preservation. If you doubt that we as a society are fixed in our lower urges all you need do is to look at TV for a while and all doubt will be removed.

A meditator aspires to progress through these wheels of activity in the body to the highest most point, to the top most plexus in the array. Eventually, the meditator looks to rest in what is beyond the plexuses, to rest their awareness in the brain. The most evolved part of the brain being the neo-cortex.

Raine notes that meditation increased the activity in the higher, the most evolved regions of the brain, and specifically that activity in the left frontal brain was enhanced. In theory related to meditation the left hemisphere of the brain is associated with analytical thought more so than the right, whose concerns are generally more temporal-spatial. Raine’s research observations also noted that left frontal lobe activation was indicative of experiencing positive emotions, and that an increased frontal cortical thickness was important in emotion regulation. He hints that meditation might help in increasing that thickness. Meditation is presented as a tool that introduces us to that one thing that science does not, one of our greatest mysteries – ourselves. If meditation, as a tool, could be useful in helping violent felons experience positive emotions, it might just be useful in helping the rest of us resolve some of the world’s pressing issues in a non-violent fashion.

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