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The physical effects of meditation.

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The physical effects of meditation.

Postby chankin1937 on Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:11 pm

Hello all,
Excerpts from some websites:
University of Pittsburgh examined the brains of long-time meditators specifically when they were not meditating. MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s 'fight or flight' centre, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks when meditators heard the sounds of people suffering, , they had stronger activation levels in their temporal parietal junctures, a part of the brain tied to empathy, than people who did not meditate.


Meditators are more compassionate.

The amygdala actually shrinks, and this correlates with the reduction in perceived stress.
Animals are able to turn their amygdala on and off. Gazelles are a good example; if a lion chases them, their amygdala begins firing, and this helps them get away from the predator. But as soon as the lion stops chasing them, the herd is back to grazing within five minutes. They need to eat, and so have learned to turn their amygdala off when they don't need it.
What we find in humans is the amygdala switches on, but because we have our imagination and we can think about all the future things that might go wrong, it doesn't so easily switch off for many of us. We end up worrying about the future or brooding about the past. The amygdala is kept switched on for things that have not even happened yet - we can invent worries.


That is obsessive/ compulsive thinking. Random and habitual conscious mental activity

The pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.


We get smarter. No need to wait for the mythical “awakening” – meditation is enough.
Knowing what happens to the structure of the brain is of no practical value to meditators.
We just have to abstain from conscious mental activity. But it’s nice to know that the benefits of meditation are scientifically verifiable.

Colin
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:58 pm

Awakening is not myth (ask Shakyamuni, "The One Who is Awake ['Buddha'] ).

Brain-imaging is not experience -- it is second-hand drawing of conclusions, from afar, based on the philosophy of Naive-Realism.

--Joe

ps you do not speak of physical effects in your post at all (legs; abdomen; breathing; digestive system; vision; hearing; etc.). Your subject-line misleads. and so the text of your post disappoints. :peace:
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby Linda Anderson on Mon Jan 11, 2016 8:38 am

what do the researchers say is meditation? exactly how do they quantify that?? these studies are questionable. I have no doubt about meditation, only the studies.. as if we need to know. it's just politics... they have no idea how to talk about the amygdala from the outside... it connects the two sides of the brain... can't have one without the other. As part of the limbic system which is primal, they are pretty arrogant to think that they know much. From my own experience, there is an aspect of trauma that can't be transcended by meditation, tho it may be one tool. For god's sake, find your own way.
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby chankin1937 on Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:32 pm

Linda,
Linda Anderson wrote: what do the researchers say is meditation? exactly how do they quantify that?? these studies are questionable. I have no doubt about meditation, only the studies.. as if we need to know. it's just politics... they have no idea how to talk about the amygdala from the outside……, they are pretty arrogant to think that they know much.


Hello Linda,
Many of these studies are carried out by reputable scientific institutions who are well versed in the accepted methods of testing and always assess their results using placebos and comparison groups.
In some studies they use practiced meditators. Look it up on the web for yourself if you feel so inclined.
What’s the problem? Don’t you feel gratified that meditation has been scientifically proved to be beneficial?

. For god's sake, find your own way.

Since joining this forum ,I have been consistently accused of doing that very thing! :)
Colin
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Jan 11, 2016 3:52 pm

Colin,

chankin1937 wrote:Since joining this forum ,I have been consistently accused of doing that very thing!

Rightfully so, too. We note that you practice neither zazen nor Zen Buddhism, though you pay lip service to some old Zen Buddhists' utterances, and to mystics, and Mr. Paul Brunton.

"One's own way" is a fine outer-path indeed, from the perspective of Zen Buddhism.

--Joe
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:15 pm

Linda Anderson wrote:what do the researchers say is meditation? exactly how do they quantify that??

Good questions to ask, and natural ones.

I have noted that some of the recent studies have included as their subjects people who have been trained uniformly in a 6-week or 8-week course in "Mindfulness Meditation" (somehow defined), which included some time "in class" with teacher and others, and then practice at home as well. I also heard about a recent study that used people who were trained in only a two-week class.

The TM people have funded studies to document physical effects of TM (copyright), and have thereby bolstered their brand.

A nice compilation of results of studies, with a comprehensive bibliography of references to studies done through 1988 comes from the Esalen Institute -- Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan, THE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF MEDITATION -- A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDITATION RESEARCH WITH A COMPREHENSIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY 1931-1988, Esalen Institute, Study of Exceptional Functioning, 1988.

Of course, brain-scan imaging has become possible since these early studies, and they are being done.

But physical effects not involving brain studies are well documented, and have been for long.

--Joe
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby TigerDuck on Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:58 am

I follow closely the scientific development of the effect of meditation.

Without scientific evidences, I think it is not easy to convince others the benefit of meditation. Society has changed to demand scientific evidences before they want to start.

However, I notice some Buddhist masters have said that at one point you can get sick from your mediation, because prolonged mediation will somehow change your energy system. There are also remedies for it.

I think Hakuin talked about it, and the remedies are by focusing a point on the sole of your feet?
I also remembered Tian Tian meditation manual discussed about it, and how to remedy it.

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:54 am

TD,

TigerDuck wrote: Society has changed to demand scientific evidences before they want to start.

I have not found that to be true in USA.

Yes, scientists and others are studying people who practice, but I don't think Science convinces people to practice. Not here.

I'm a scientist, and almost none of my scientific friends practice.

I think, too, that a lot of talk about scientific results and possible benefits of meditation or other practice, spoken by scientists or even by medical doctors, is just one more "good" thing added to the list of what doctors have been preaching to the public for their good health and well-being. Most people ignore such preaching, and advice. Totally ignore it. Or, drop it a week or two after making New Year's resolutions. Despite an ongoing buzz in the background about it.

Anyway, I suppose there will always be people who practice for bits and pieces of the entire spectrum of reasons that people practice -- Awakening; Health (to cure specific ailments; and for Mental Clarity, to help in people's work. Some people will learn and practice in a spiritual environment. Some will learn and practice in a clinical environment. Most people will not learn or practice at all.

Yet, the true Dharma is alive and well in the West. Hail!, pioneering teachers, and their successors.

:Namaste:

--Joe
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:46 pm

The findings in the study are totally consistent with my own personal experience

If Zazen did not have these effects I would not still be doing it

I love scientific research, warts and all
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:59 pm

Michaeljc wrote:The findings in the study are totally consistent with my own personal experience

Really? You can sense that your "amygdala" has shrunken? :PP:

If Zazen did not have these effects I would not still be doing it

Is it still shrinking? :lol2:

I love scientific research, warts and all

Maybe your area is Dermatology, then. :)X

Happy New Year, Cousin :heya:

--Joe
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:56 pm

Joe - you are on the record here somewhere of saying that the impact of practice is predominantly physical

I agree with you

Why is it that right throughout history so much emphasis has been put on daily sitting on a cushion in a clearly defined posture?

I see no reason to knock the researchers

:heya:

have a nice cool day - rain has come to your west :)
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:35 pm

hiya, Michael,

Michaeljc wrote:Joe - you are on the record here somewhere of saying that the impact of practice is predominantly physical

I agree with you

Why is it that right throughout history so much emphasis has been put on daily sitting on a cushion in a clearly defined posture?

I see no reason to knock the researchers

:heya:

have a nice cool day - rain has come to your west :)

Not knocking the researchers (I'm one of 'em). Only knocking those who don't yet know enough NOT to depend on them.

I'm on-board with "physical", yes. One senses and observes the effects, as "the physical" affects "the mental" (or etc.). One "intuits" them, and the changes, by direct experience (of them). I don't find second or third parties' pronouncements to be useful to my conviction, nor to my dedication (nor do you, I think).

Still, the results of medical and scientific studies are fun to note, I'll grant. We can hope, too, that there may actually be some good subjects around who are in fact worthy of "study".

But, now, if you keep making intuitive measurements of your amygdala shrinking, Michael, please post a copy here of the graph of that "progress".

Cheers, and may El Nino not rain on any parades there, nor Mondayised holidays,

--Joe (A. Mygdala)
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:48 pm

Michael,

Michaeljc wrote:Why is it that right throughout history so much emphasis has been put on daily sitting on a cushion in a clearly defined posture?

Cuz it was our (deep... ) ancestors' way, before the invention of destabilizing "furniture".

If you wanna be originally Human, ya gotta behave like one. No... AS one. Then, all hidden inheritances will (may... ) come back to you.

(the body is a kind Master. And a rich repository)

:Namaste:,

--Joe

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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby Linda Anderson on Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:31 am

chankin1937 wrote:Linda,
Linda Anderson wrote: what do the researchers say is meditation? exactly how do they quantify that?? these studies are questionable. I have no doubt about meditation, only the studies.. as if we need to know. it's just politics... they have no idea how to talk about the amygdala from the outside……, they are pretty arrogant to think that they know much.


Hello Linda,
Many of these studies are carried out by reputable scientific institutions who are well versed in the accepted methods of testing and always assess their results using placebos and comparison groups.
In some studies they use practiced meditators. Look it up on the web for yourself if you feel so inclined.
What’s the problem? Don’t you feel gratified that meditation has been scientifically proved to be beneficial?

. For god's sake, find your own way.

Since joining this forum ,I have been consistently accused of doing that very thing! :)
Colin


all well and good if you wish to lower your blood pressure... I am ABD in Transpersonal Psychology... very few ppl in academics (unless they practice) knew what practice is about ... done with both sides of that. I stopped for exactly that reason, no regrets.... that was in 1992, my second attempt. The first was in 1967, when I could not abide the statistical lies of experimental psych ... way before any idea about spiritual practice or what it was for me .... a walk home one fall evening in 1967 when the world opened.
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby Linda Anderson on Wed Jan 13, 2016 7:07 am

Colin...
Going back to the OP, sorry, I do not find it to be true that meditators are more compassionate... tho we might like to think so... even I would like to think that. My heart breaks for that to be a truth, not mere formality.... it a mixed bag. Knowing that opens the heart to compassion.
linda
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby chankin1937 on Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:17 pm

Tiger Duck,
TigerDuck wrote:However, I notice some Buddhist masters have said that at one point you can get sick from your mediation, because prolonged mediation will somehow change your energy system. There are also remedies for it. I think Hakuin talked about it, and the remedies are by focusing a point on the sole of your feet? I also remembered Tian Tian meditation manual discussed about it, and how to remedy it.


Hello Tiger Duck,
Professor Suzuki tells us [on page 104 of his book An Introduction to Zen Buddhism] that “When the koan system came into vogue during the Sung Dynasty the halcyon days of Zen were almost over and it began to show signs of decline and senility.”
The implication is that the koan system rejuvenated Zen.

However,he tells us [on page 118] about what is, in my opinion, a more effective system for avoiding the Zen sickness [the zendo – reminiscent of the Indian Sangha}] which was founded by the Chinese Zen Master Hyakujo (720-814) that can be paraphrased as “no work – no food”. This integrated Zen into a daily round of labour- which is the ideal. This is what all Zen students must do. Zazen is part of life – not the whole of life. The middle way.
The experience the successful meditator gains access to is the reward for successfully solving the problems life continually confronts us with.
No solutions – no rewards.
It is the reward for successfully using conscious mental activity not the abolition of it altogether.
(Even though we practice abstaining from CMA to get that reward.)
This is a far healthier approach to Zen. integrating it into a demanding lifestyle.
Less risk of the Zen sickness there!
Colin
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby chankin1937 on Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:35 pm

Linda,
Linda Anderson wrote: Going back to the OP, sorry, I do not find it to be true that meditators are more compassionate.


Hello Linda,
To tell the truth, I was taking a back handed swipe at Joe’s insistence that we won’t become wise or compassionate until we are magically “awakened”. It seems that we can take a piddling eight-weeks course in meditation and find there are already signs of improvements in both fields !
There is no need to wait – even a little meditation will do!
After sixty years, I must be one of the most compassionate and wise men in the world! Hail! :dance:
All the best,
Colin
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Jan 14, 2016 1:07 am

People of Earth,

chankin1937 wrote:To tell the truth, I was taking a back handed swipe at Joe’s insistence that we won’t become wise or compassionate until we are magically “awakened”.

On this point, let everyone take an example from our Original Teacher, Shakyamuni.

He awakened. Wisdom arose in him. Compassion arose in him. He got up from his seat under the tree (to open this Way for others).

I don't characteristically say "magic". I say, "Marvelous!", "Wonderful!".

Awakening is real. And so the Buddha is called "Buddha".

And awakening is what I call the single most under-appreciated miracle in the last 2500 years (w/ apologies to Christian-believers).

--Joe
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby Avisitor on Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:05 am

chankin1937 wrote:To tell the truth, I was taking a back handed swipe at Joe

There is no need to wait – even a little meditation will do!
After sixty years, I must be one of the most compassionate and wise men in the world! Hail! :dance:
All the best,
Colin

No, you are not one of the most compassionate and wise men in the world when you are taking a back handed swipe at Joe or anyone.
Wisdom and compassion means working with someone and not against them to bring about a better result .. not back handed swipes

Edit: For most people, conceit and misconceptions do not make for awakening
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
Sorry, got a message that I was not being PC.
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Re: The physical effects of meditation.

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Jan 14, 2016 12:16 pm

Avisitor wrote:Edit: For most people, conceit and misconceptions do not make for awakening

Thanks, Av. Yes, it seems an iron-law.

I'd say too that there's a difference between "meditation" in service of a "self", and Zen Buddhist practice in the service of awakening to true nature and saving sentient beings. Why, it's the difference between an outer-path, and a Buddhist path! Hmm, how 'bout that... .

--Joe
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