Meditation & “The Field”
Can consistent meditation and yoga change your brain? Natural Cures for Depression is a great resource.
According to a 2006 report by ScienCentral news:
Massachusetts General Hospital psychologist, Sara Laza, is quoted as saying she can see measurable physical changes in the brains of people who routinely meditate. “Meditation can have a serious impact on your brain long beyond the time when you’re actually sitting and meditating, and this may have a positive impact on your day-to-day living,” said Lazar, an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Her research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
As she outlined in the Nov. 15, 2005, issue of NeuroReport, Lazar and her team used MRI brain scans to compare the brains of people who practiced insight (vipassana) meditation every day with those of non-meditators. “These are not monks,” she emphasized, “these are just people who choose to meditate for about 45 minutes a day every day.” Lazar and her research team found that certain areas of the cortex — the outer layer of the brain that contains our thinking, reasoning, and decision-making functions — were significantly thicker in the meditators. “One of them is right up in the front of your brain right above your right eye, and this is an area that’s involved in decision making and in working memory [as well as] short term memory,” she explained. Lazar also saw thickening in another region of the brain, called the insula, that she considers “a central switchboard of the brain.” The insula connects the primitive limbic cortex and the more advanced cortex, which is highly developed in primates and humans. Lazar said this region is thought to be “involved in coordinating the brain and the body and the emotions and thoughts,” she explained. “It helps us better make decisions.” The researchers think this thickening might help to counteract the natural thinning of the cortex that occurs as we get older. The brain’s cortex starts getting thinner from about age 20 and continues to thin throughout life. “It’s not a cure-all, but it perhaps can help prevent the loss of some functions,” Lazar said. “One small part of the front of the brain does not get thinner with age… [suggesting] that this part of the brain is not affected by age. This part of the cortex is involved in short term working memory and cognitive decision-making.” Results also suggest that ongoing meditation would continue the thickening process. “The thickness is strongly correlated with the amount of experience. So the more they sat, the thicker it was,” Lazar noted.
Important Links MBSR Courses
Meditation can change the brain:
Long-term meditation seems not only to alter brain-wave patterns: early research suggests that it may also result in changes in the actual structure of the cortex, the outer parts of our brains. “We have found that brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing were thicker in meditators than in the controls,” says Dr Sara Lazar, an assistant in psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“The data give credence to some of the claims of long-term meditators and suggests that meditation can play a role in reducing stress, improving emotion regulation and perhaps slowing the effects of ageing on brains – slowing the normal decrease in mental agility, ability to learn new things and memory that comes with age.” Link
Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn: a google talk (1:12)
Metta Bhavana Meditation – recommended for depression
The Metta Prayer
The Buddha gave a beautiful teaching on the development of lovingkindness called the Metta Sutta (also known as the Karaniya Metta Sutta). I’ve adapted the words of the sutta to formulate them as an aspiration that can be repeated in a prayer-like way.
In order that I may be skilled in discerning what is good, in order that I may understand the path to peace,
Let me be able, upright, and straightforward, of good speech, gentle, and free from pride;
Let me be contented, easily satisfied, having few duties, living simply, of controlled senses, prudent, without pride and without attachment to nation, race, or other groups.
Let me not do the slightest thing for which the wise might rebuke me. Instead let me think:
May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be, whether moving or standing still, without exception, whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,
Whether seen or unseen, whether living near or far,
Born or unborn; may all beings be happy.
Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.”
Just as a mother would guard her child, her only child, with her own life, even so let me cultivate a boundless mind for all beings in the world.
Let me cultivate a boundless love for all beings in the world, above, below, and across, unhindered, without ill will or enmity.
Standing, walking, seated, or lying down, free from torpor, let me as far as possible fix my attention on this recollection. This, they say, is the divine life right here.
Translated and adapted by Bodhipaksa from the Pali Metta Sutta.
BBC Religion: Types of Meditation
In recent years there has been growing interest in using meditation and mindfulness in palliative care, particularly learning to cope with chronic pain and preventing relapse into depression. A BBC primer discusses meditation and provides basic instructions.
The Zero Point Field
Amazon review snippet
<Lynne>McTaggart, an investigative journalist (What Doctors Don’t Tell You), describes scientific discoveries that she believes point to a unifying concept of the universe, one that reconciles mind with matter, classic Newtonian science with quantum physics and, most importantly, science with religion. At issue is the zero point field, the so-called “dead space” of microscopic vibrations in outer space as well as within and between physical objects on earth. These fields, McTaggart asserts, are a “cobweb of energy exchange” that link everything in the universe; they control everything from cellular communication to the workings of the mind, and they could be harnessed for unlimited propulsion fuel, levitation, ESP, spiritual healing and more.
Living the Field: website on the project’s goal to “synthesize the discoveries of the very latest frontier science into a coherent theory and a program for modern integrated living.”
“The fact that the zero-point field is the lowest energy state makes it unobservable. We see things by way of contrast. The eye works by letting light fall on the otherwise dark retina. But if the eye were filled with light, there would be no darkness to afford a contrast. The zero-point field is such a blinding light. Since it is everywhere, inside and outside of us, permeating every atom in our bodies, we are effectively blind to it. It blinds us to its presence. The world of light that we do see is all the rest of the light that is over and above the zero-point field.”
Zero Point Energy explaining the science.