Meditation has been studied in recent decades in laboratories of western universities, and it has been confirmed that it has important cognitive and health benefits in general. Perhaps the most interesting work in this regard is that of neuroscientist Richard Davidson, who also practices meditation and is a personal friend of Dalái Lama. Famously, Davidson has measured in his laboratory at the University of Wisconsin the brain waves of meditators who have accumulated more than 62 thousand hours of meditation in their lives. As explained by psychologist Daniel Goleman, who is co-author with Davidson of the book Altered Traits, these meditators, which he calls "Olympic level", show brain characteristics that have never before been observed by science.
The meditators analyzed by Davidson, many of them taken from India and Nepal to the United States, have a level of gamma brain waves much higher than that of people who have not meditated much. These brain waves usually appear when different regions of the brain come into harmony:
We get gamma waves when we bite an apple or imagine biting an apple, and for a brief period, a second, the influx of flavor, smell, sound, vision, and all that joins in the imaginary bite of the apple.
For an ordinary person these wave ranges appear briefly and only at times of particular focus on a well-defined activity. But in the case of "Olympic" meditators, it is observed that gamma waves are a constant. "It's his daily mental state. Science has never seen anything like that, " says Goleman.
Gamma brain activity grows to even higher levels when these meditators are asked to practice compassion meditation; In this practice common to different Buddhist schools you can see intense gamma peaks. Perhaps compassion - or love - really is the highest state of mind.
Although scientifically no conclusions have been drawn, Goleman suggests that gamma activity could be a marker of what certain spiritual traditions call a kind of enlightenment or waking state of mind. It would seem that the brain of the meditators has the quality of freshness, lucidity, calmness and sharpness. The expert meditator really experiences things as if they were new, fresh, crisp and bright.