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Training the nervous system not to overreact: Transcendental Meditation powerful tool in addiction recovery
by Global Good News staff writer
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20 November 2012
Transcendental Meditation trains the nervous system not to overreact, said Dr Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, previously a researcher for over 20 years at the National Institute of Mental Health.
'When you learn to meditate you just have that little bit of extra time to think, ''Is it worth getting upset?'' ' explained Dr Rosenthal.
But what is actually happening in the physiology?
Dr Rosenthal explained that the prefrontal cortex in the brain functions more coherently. In addition, 'the amygdala, which is like the little baby screaming in the middle of your brain, is quieter. Now the prefrontal cortex can think.'
Dr Rosenthal compares it to a chaotic place of business. 'If the fire marshal, which is the alarm system in a building, is banging on the CEO's door all the time even when it's not an emergency, the CEO is not going to be able to get any work done.'
The same scenario plays itself out in the brain of an addict.
'That is what will happen to the prefrontal cortex if your amygdala is screaming all the time for nothing. It is there for real emergencies, not there to be screaming. In the addict, it's screaming, screaming, screaming. 'I need to drink. I need a cigarette. I need food.' You can't get anything done and . . . [addictive behaviours] have toxic consequences.'
On the other hand, if the prefrontal cortex can function more coherently and the amygdala can calm down, then addictive tendencies can be overcome.
'If you can calm down the amygdala and say wait a second . . . just to give you that little bit of option to do other things instead of impulsively yield to the craving, [then] you have a huge tool to help with recovery.'
That is what Transcendental Meditation does, said Dr Rosenthal, thus making it a powerful tool to aid in recovery from addiction.
See previous articles in this series:
∙ Conference on addictions highlights 'demonstrable health benefits of Transcendental Meditation'
∙ Transcendental Meditation increases brain coherence, quiets 'alarm bells' - helps reduce addiction
∙ Transcendental Meditation increases alpha rhythms, important in recovery from addictions
∙ Expert on Transcendence describes three different kinds of meditation
∙ Meditation long used to treat addictions: Dr Norman Rosenthal
∙ Dr Norman Rosenthal addresses conference on stress, addiction, and Transcendental Meditation
∙ Using Transcendental Meditation in addiction recovery: Dr Norman Rosenthal
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