Tag Archives | Meditation
Harris O’Malley writes at the Good Men Project:
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Getting better at dating is hard enough.
It gets even harder when it feels like your own mind is fighting back against your attempts to improve yourself.
When I was younger, I used to be a chronic insomniac. I’d be physically tired, but I could never actually get to sleep; my body would be exhausted but I could never get my brain to quiet down long enough for me to relax and pass out. Every night became an exercise in what I called “riding the maelstrom”1—a mental whirlpool of worst-case scenarios, self-recrimination, anxieties and doubts. I would start to drift off to sleep when suddenly I would remember something stupid I’d done that day—“Why did I say that to Emily, oh Christ I’m such a fucking idiot, no wonder I can’t get a girlfriend see this is why you’re a loser.
I went to a Zen temple in my early 20s, and, ever the scientist, every chance I got to speak to a monk one on one, I asked every one of them if they had tripped on psychedelics and how important their trips were in their decision to become a monk. And I'd say 99% of these junior monks in their 20s all got their start on LSD.
Via Reality Sandwich:
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Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.
Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing “solutions,” regardless of how much suffering such “remedies” may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects.
Happiness is a gamma wave. Via Oddity Central:
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Matthieu Ricard was declared the happiest man on Earth by a group of scientists after it was discovered his brain produces a level of gamma waves never before reported in the field of neuroscience.
A former molecular geneticist who left his life and career behind to discover the secrets of Buddhism, Ricard is now one of the most celebrated monks in the Himalayas and a trusted advisor of the Dalai Lama. In 2009, neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up the French monk’s head with 256 sensors as part of a research project on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.
The scans showed something remarkable: when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain produced a level of gamma waves linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory that were never even reported before in neuroscience literature. Furthermore, the scans scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.
Author and personal development coach Steve Barnes begins a series of posts discussing the “Mastermind” concept–a technique of gathering and consolidating resources necessary for attaining goals. He starts off with describing a very cool NLP/visualization exercise he did with his daughter to help her overcome a performance block.
Via Dar Kush:
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“The mastermind is the only known means of overcoming a lack of ability.”–Napoleon Hill.
A critical concept, whether we look at an individual, a couple, or a crowd. Whether the goals are internal or external, whether they are artistic, commercial or spiritual.
This is so critical that I want to concentrate my thoughts here for a while. The primary definition of a “Mastermind” is: two or more people working together in a spirit of perfect harmony to support shared or separate goals.
Let’s relate it simply to the first basic levels: An individual.
The Eriksonian “Parts Party” is designed to create alignment between the different aspects of our personality.
The sound artist Kim Cascone passed along a great link for making DIY Ganzfeld goggles. When I was at the Rhine Research Center we were able to see their Ganzfeld rooms, and I’ve been interested in experimenting with the technique once I get more time. These kind of ‘hacks’ are a great way to work with some of the consciousness studies research without having the benefits of grant funding or donors!
“The Ganzfeld effect is a form of visual sensory deprivation. The idea is to give the open eyes a blank visual field of uniform color. Since there is nothing for the eyes to see, the brain cuts off the unchanging input, and often manufactures its own images – these may be thought of as mild hallucinations. Personally, I haven’t experienced any vivid hallucinations via a Ganzfield, but I find the effect to be rather relaxing. I’ve found that a Ganzfeld is very good for helping to eliminate excess chatter in the mind, especially when practicing meditation.… Read the rest
Most of us probably assume that scientists have little time for the mysteries of Eastern spirituality and meditation. And until just a few years ago that assumption might well have been true. But in recent years the emerging field of contemplative science has been having a real effect on the perception of meditation in the scientific community, a shift that might be the start of a new scientific revolution.
David Vargo is an instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, and has held the position of Senior Research Coordinator for the Mind and Life Institute, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fostering dialogue and research at the highest possible level between modern science and the great contemplative traditions. In this episode of the Buddhist Geeks podcast he gives a cogent overview of the state of scientific research in to meditation.
Christie Nicholson writes in Scientific American:
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The benefits of meditation have received newfound evidence from neuroscience in the last five years, as researchers are finding real physiological changes due to a sort of formally practiced introspection.
Recently scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital had 16 participants take an eight-week mindfulness meditation program. This sort of meditation focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations and feelings. Subjects practiced for about 30 minutes a day.
Brain images were taken of each subject before and after the training. Scientists found increases in gray-matter density in the hippocampus — an area responsible for learning and memory. And they saw decreased density in the amygdala— which is responsible for our anxiety and stress responses …
All this reminds us of two things: 1) The brain is much more plastic than scientists thought even just a decade ago and 2) the way we feel—calm or anxious—can be correlated with real structural indicators in our brains.