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InvisibleMountainMist
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Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 53
Loc: Seattle, Washington
Study: Meditation produces brain changes
    #1566518 - 05/21/03 05:54 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)


Yahoo/Reuters Science News

LONDON (Reuters) - Buddhists really are happy, calm and serene people -- at least according to their brain scans.

Using new scanning techniques, neuroscientists have discovered that certain areas of the brain light up constantly in Buddhists, which indicates positive emotions and good mood. This happens at times even when they are not meditating.

"We can now hypothesize with some confidence that those apparently happy, calm Buddhist souls one regularly comes across in places such as Dharamsala, India, really are happy," Professor Owen Flanagan, of Duke University in North Carolina, said Wednesday.

Dharamsala is the home base of exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.

The scanning studies by scientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison showed activity in the left prefrontal lobes of experienced Buddhist practitioners. The area is linked to positive emotions, self-control and temperament.

Other research by Paul Ekman, of the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, suggests that meditation and mindfulness can tame the amygdala, an area of the brain which is the hub of fear memory.

Ekman discovered that experienced Buddhists were less likely to be shocked, flustered, surprised or as angry as other people.

Flanagan believes that if the findings of the studies can be confirmed they could be of major importance.

"The most reasonable hypothesis is that there is something about conscientious Buddhist practice that results in the kind of happiness we all seek," Flanagan said in a report in New Scientist magazine.






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InvisibleXlea321
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Registered: 02/26/01
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1566546 - 05/21/03 06:13 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Then again maybe the kind of people interested enough to spend years studying buddhism are simply placid happy people naturally.


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


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OfflineMurex
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: Xlea321]
    #1566553 - 05/21/03 06:16 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)


...........bekuze of medatation.


--------------------
What if everything around you
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know,
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection,
Is it all you want it to be?



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InvisibleRevelation

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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1566558 - 05/21/03 06:17 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)

"We can now hypothesize with some confidence that those apparently happy, calm Buddhist souls one regularly comes across in places such as Dharamsala, India, really are happy,"

Genius.


--------------------


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InvisibleMountainMist
Stranger

Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 53
Loc: Seattle, Washington
Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: Xlea321]
    #1566602 - 05/21/03 06:34 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Then again maybe the kind of people interested enough to spend years studying buddhism are simply placid happy people naturally.





Why would naturally placid, happy people spend years meditating in order to obtain a quality of mind they already possess? Consistent meditation practice requires DRIVE, and the only thing I can think of that triggers that kind of drive is the consciousness of suffering. Most of the naturally happy people I know tend to be more interested in being social or practicing their hobbies than in immersing themselves in something like meditation or esoteric Buddhism.

These are not the only studies that support this conclusion. James H. Austin's mammoth volume from the MIT Press, *Zen and the Brain*, covers many others. I highly recommend it to those who are interested in learning more.


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OfflineLearyfan
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1566682 - 05/21/03 07:00 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Sweet




--------------------
--------------------------------


Mp3 of the month: Johnny Price- Marijuana, The Devil Flower



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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: Xlea321]
    #1567005 - 05/21/03 09:13 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Then again maybe the kind of people interested enough to spend years studying buddhism are simply placid happy people naturally.




That's a very good point.

An experiment should be done in which people unaffiliated with buddhism are randomly picked to practice it. Brain scans would be taken before, during, and after. I'm not really sure how the control group would work.

Interesting stuff.


--------------------
Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1567824 - 05/22/03 01:21 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

There was some video a while back on RealTV, or some similar program, with Buddhist Monks engaged in extreme violence (not martial arts).

My former hero, Donald Walters, aka Swami Kriyananda, who meditated every day for over 50 years was banned from the community that he founded (Ananda) for sexual misconduct.


--------------------



The proof is in the pudding.


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InvisibleMountainMist
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: Swami]
    #1567866 - 05/22/03 01:36 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

I don't see the significance of your reply. Nowhere in the article is the claim made that meditation makes all of its practitioners perfect human beings. That would be like people who sell barbells claiming that using them will turn you into Mr. Universe.

Does meditation help? The evidence suggests it does. None of your half-remembered anecdotes changes that.


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1567874 - 05/22/03 01:39 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

I think the Swami is merely trying to point out that just because someone wears a pinstripe uniform, swings a bat, chews tobacco, and makes too much money, it doesn't make them a good ball player.

Am I right, Swamster?


--------------------
Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1567911 - 05/22/03 01:56 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Why would naturally placid, happy people spend years meditating in order to obtain a quality of mind they already possess?

Because it's the kind of thing naturally happy placid people gravitate to. You probably arn't going to meet many street thugs in the local buddhist class. I'm sure many unhappy people try buddhism and get nothing out of it whatsoever. No slur on buddhism or meditation I just don't consider it a cure-all for the unhappy.

The only study that would mean anything is if you tried Buddhism and meditation on a group of chronically depressed people and saw whether meditation made them any happier.

And this study also disregards the lifestyles of the buddhists they've examined. Living in India in a monastery with the Dalai Lama sounds like a pretty stress-free existence.


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


Edited by Alex123 (05/22/03 02:00 AM)


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InvisibleMountainMist
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Loc: Seattle, Washington
Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: Xlea321]
    #1568084 - 05/22/03 02:51 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Because it's the kind of thing naturally happy placid people gravitate to.

Your reasoning is going around in circles.

You probably arn't going to meet many street thugs in the local buddhist class.

Buddhism and meditation are taught at various prisons to "street thugs" and there are often many takers--people who want to improve their lives.

I'm sure many unhappy people try buddhism and get nothing out of it whatsoever.

Of course. Who said otherwise? There are also many people who take approved pharmaceutical remedies and get nothing out of them either--and sometimes they even die from the side effects.

No slur on buddhism or meditation I just don't consider it a cure-all for the unhappy.

Who ever said it was a cure-all for anything? There is no such thing as a cure-all in this world.

The only study that would mean anything is if you tried Buddhism and meditation on a group of chronically depressed people and saw whether meditation made them any happier.

Why would that be the *only* study that would mean anything? I think your definition of meaning is a bit too narrow. Besides which, the study is not limited only to meditation, but pertains to the entire Buddhist lifestyle and value system. A person can meditate for fifteen minutes a day and still maintain self-destructive behaviors and thought patterns the other 23 hours and 45 minutes.

And this study also disregards the lifestyles of the buddhists they've examined. Living in India in a monastery with the Dalai Lama sounds like a pretty stress-free existence.

Watching Chinese soldiers rape Buddhist nuns with bayonets sounds stress-free to you? How about watching the Chinese destroy thousands of your temples and attempt to destroy your cultural heritage? How about never being able to return to your homeland? Tibetans in India hardly lead a "stress-free" existence. Only a coddled, self-pitying Westerner could read their situation that way.


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1568239 - 05/22/03 04:19 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

None of your half-remembered anecdotes changes that.

Anecdotes are the bread & butter on this board for evidence of mystical happenings, but you don't seem to question those. Why not an anti-anecdote?


--------------------



The proof is in the pudding.


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: Sclorch]
    #1568242 - 05/22/03 04:22 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

I think the Swami is merely trying to point out that just because someone wears a pinstripe uniform, swings a bat, chews tobacco, and makes too much money, it doesn't make them a good ball player.

Damn, I forgot the chewing tobacco. Will make sure to bring it to the next co-ed softball game to improve my batting average.


--------------------



The proof is in the pudding.


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1568244 - 05/22/03 04:25 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Watching Chinese soldiers rape Buddhist nuns with bayonets sounds stress-free to you?
Depends if you were the soldier or the nun, or if you were a nun with a secret rape-fantasy.

How about watching the Chinese destroy thousands of your temples and attempt to destroy your cultural heritage?
The Chinese did that because they failed to meditate or this just some obtuse political rant that doesn't belong here?




--------------------



The proof is in the pudding.


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1568247 - 05/22/03 04:27 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

The area is linked to positive emotions, self-control and temperament.

And shaved heads, chanting, and a prediliction for the color orange...


--------------------



The proof is in the pudding.


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Anonymous

Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: Swami]
    #1568814 - 05/22/03 11:52 AM (14 years, 4 months ago)

Absurdity isn't very convincing.


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1568835 - 05/22/03 12:05 PM (14 years, 4 months ago)

Your reasoning is going around in circles.

It's a circular argument isn't it - people who study buddhism are happy because they study buddhism. I've met a lot of happy gardeners too but I wouldn't say gardening makes you happy - some people enjoy it and they're the ones who stick at it. That's about as far as you can go.

Buddhism and meditation are taught at various prisons to "street thugs" and there are often many takers--people who want to improve their lives.

But how many of them does it make any happier?

Of course. Who said otherwise?

The guy in the article who said "Buddhists are calm, happy serene people". Wasn't a buddhist monk found guilty of the rape and murder of a UK backpacker a few years ago? I wonder how calm and serene he was?

Who ever said it was a cure-all for anything?

The guy intimated it by saying "Buddhists are calm, happy serene people". Some are - agreed. Just like some christians, gardeners, people who do sport etc etc.

Why would that be the *only* study that would mean anything?

Because the guys proposition is that buddhists are happy calm and serene. My proposition is that SOME are. Just like you can find calm happy serene people in all walks of life.

Besides which, the study is not limited only to meditation, but pertains to the entire Buddhist lifestyle and value system.

I'd agree having a peaceful lifestyle is important - more important than whether it's a buddhist lifestyle or not.

Watching Chinese soldiers rape Buddhist nuns with bayonets sounds stress-free to you?

How many of them watched this? And how often are they watching it? My guess is that seeing someone raped 30 years ago and then living in a monastery for the rest of your life is likely to cause less stress than being stuck in traffic every day with 3 kids to feed and a boss hassling you.

Tibetans in India hardly lead a "stress-free" existence.

What is one of their average days like?


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: MountainMist]
    #1568842 - 05/22/03 12:08 PM (14 years, 4 months ago)

http://www.urbandharma.org/nlarchives.html

2. What does a monk do during a typical day?

http://www.abm.ndirect.co.uk/leftside/sumaries/q-a/life-is.htm#whatdoes


I go to the community's first meeting of the day at five o'clock in the morning. I usually get up between four and four-thirty. We start the meeting by lighting candles and incense on the shrine, then bowing to the shrine three times. We then do about thirty minutes of chanting and then sit in meditation for about an hour. The chanting is in the Pali language which is a very ancient tongue not used these days for anything other than the Theravada Buddhist religion. Some of the chanting is devotional, reflecting on the beautiful qualities of the man that was the Buddha: kindness, compassion, wisdom, morality. Some of it is contemplative, reflecting on some of the things that the Buddha taught. The meditation is in silence. At the end of the meditation the senior monk rings a little bell and we bow to the shrine three times to finish the meeting. It is now six thirty. After the meeting I do some tidying up in the publications office where I work during the day. At seven-fifteen I go to the main hall and have a cup of porridge and drink some tea. Everyone is here and members of the community can make announcements about jobs that need doing and help that is required, as well as any other community business. Sometimes, after we have finished our drink, the Abbot gives a talk about the Buddhist teachings.


From about eight-thirty until ten-thirty I have free time. I do lots of different things, like type this letter, or maybe do some laundry, or go for a walk, or sit and chat with a friend or just sit. At ten thirty the main bell is rung and we all gather for the meal. We just have one main meal and it should be finished before mid-day. I put on my robe, take my alms bowl and go to the hall. There are two rows of mats on the floor. I bow to the shrine and sit. All the food is offered to the monks and I can put what I need in my bowl. We then do some chanting which is the traditional way of saying thank you to the people who gave us the food. I wait until the senior monks have started eating and then I quietly eat my food. After the meal I wash my bowl and take it back to my room. It is now about twelve o'clock. Now, I may have a rest for a while.

At about one-thirty I usually do some publication work. Print this letter, type out some information leaflets, scan and edit some pictures. I spend quite a bit of time on the computer. I take a break every now and then and just go for a bit of a walk and look at the trees and the sky and listen to the wind and the birdsong. At five-fifteen I try and leave the work for the day and go and have a cuppa with my fellow monastics - these are my friends. Sometimes it's difficult to stop work. Do you get absorbed in doing things that you enjoy? I work at what I like, so I enjoy my work, so my work is not work but play.


At seven-fifteen the big bell is rung and I put on my robes and go to the main hall for the last meeting of the day. We do some chanting for about half and hour and then meditate for about an hour. Sometimes, after we have finished this, the Abbot gives a talk about the Buddhist teachings. It is now about nine o'clock. I go back to my room, maybe read, write a letter, sit and look out of the window, sit and look in the window (of my mind) or just go to sleep.


Today is the full-moon day and we begin a retreat period. I shaved my head yesterday (I do this every two weeks) and this afternoon all the monks will gather and there will be a recitation of our rules - all 227 of them, in Pali. It takes about 45 minutes of fast chanting and is done from memory. It takes a long time to learn and remember all that chanting


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Study: Meditation produces brain changes [Re: ]
    #1568847 - 05/22/03 12:11 PM (14 years, 4 months ago)

Absurdity isn't very convincing.

No, but it is very Zen. What is the sound of one lip laughing?


--------------------



The proof is in the pudding.


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