Meditators Can Affect Quantum Events

30 January, 2014 at 07:23 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment

By Ben Bendig
Epoch Times

In quantum physics, one of the most enduring mysteries is known as the double-slit experiment, which renowned physicist Richard Feynman described as containing “the only mystery.”

So what’s so mysterious about it?

This requires a bit of setup: If you take a light-tight box, and inside shoot photons (basically units of light) through one slit onto photographic paper, you’ll see a pattern where it’s darkest right in the middle, and gets fainter as you move toward the edges. Basically, it’s what you would expect: most of the light hits the middle, and the rest of the photons get deflected to various degrees and stray from the middle in predictable ways.

If you change your apparatus and introduce a second slit, and shoot photons through it, you’ll now get an interference pattern—alternating bands of dark and light. What’s happening is the light is acting like a wave on its way to the photographic plate, and the two beams of light are interfering with each other. Sometimes they reinforce each other, and sometimes they cancel each other out.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting: if you shoot one photon at a time through the device, but don’t know which slit the photon goes through, you still get the interference pattern!

But if you shoot one at a time, and you know which slit it goes through, you’ll just get two clusters, like when there’s only one slit open, but in two places.

Numerous theoretical explanations have been offered to explain this mystery, some of which propose that the act of observation by a conscious entity—a mind—plays a crucial role. The act of observation, in effect, alters the state of matter at the quantum level.

This is controversial, probably because it doesn’t fit with the prevailing scientific worldview that matter and energy are primary, and consciousness is more or less something extra, and has nothing to do with the most basic constituents of the universe. If mind isn’t just as fundamental as matter, how could it affect matter at a quantum level?

There are problems with the view that matter is primary and consciousness comes later, but the best way to demonstrate that is probably with experiments, rather than philosophical arguments. (After all, such philosophical arguments have been going on for a long, long time.)

What if it could be shown experimentally that consciousness can affect the results of the double-slit experiment?

The Experimental Evidence

Enter Dean Radin and colleagues, who carried out a series of six experiments demonstrating just this.

Participants were first familiarized with the double-slit experiment by watching a 5-minute animation, then they were brought into an electrically shielded steel room, sat down a few meters from the double-slit apparatus, and were given instructions to try to influence the beam when told to do so.

During randomly assigned periods lasting from 15 to 30 seconds, participants were cued to relax or to try to influence the apparatus. Each session lasted about 15 minutes, not including instruction.

Radin and colleagues found that during those periods when participants were attending to the device, the interference pattern was significantly reduced, compared to when the device was active but no one was present. That means it looked more like when there’s knowledge of which slot the light passed through.

They controlled for various factors, such as electrical shielding, temperature, and vibration, but none of these could explain away the results: focused attention influenced the pattern of light.

And how good one is at focusing turns out to be an especially important factor. Participants’ amount of meditation experience made all the difference as to whether they could affect the pattern or not—those who did not practice meditation on average failed to show a statistically significant effect.

Somehow, those who regularly practice focusing their attention can have more of an effect on this quantum phenomenon.

This brings up a host of new questions: how does focused attention affect this or other phenomena? Are these meditation practitioners different than other people, or is it the meditation itself that produces the effects? If it is amount of practice, what exactly is it about meditation that produces this capability?

Regardless of the answers to those questions, these six experiments present strong statistical evidence that meditators are capable of influencing quantum events. To get these results by chance, you’d have to run the same set of experiments 150,000 times. In contrast, for most psychology studies, if you would arrive at a particular result by chance one out of 20 times, it is considered a valid effect.

Radin and colleagues also examined whether fluctuations in the Earth’s geomagnetic field might be responsible for the results, because previous studies have shown that these magnetic variations are linked to various phenomena related to human behavior, such as stock market activity, suicides, and cardiac health, as well as differences in performance on extra-sensory perception (ESP) tasks.

They found that the results of these experiments are not explained by these variations, but the variations contributed to how strong the effects were, thus further validating that both these geomagnetic influences and the effect on the double-slit experiment are real.

The study was published in Physics Essays, June 2012.

via Meditators Can Affect Quantum Events » The Epoch Times

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Mindfulness Training Helps Reduce Stress for Teachers

16 September, 2013 at 07:07 | Posted in Body & Mind, Children, meditation, Society, Spirituality, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Rosemary Byfield
Epoch Times

How teachers cope with demands in the classroom may be made easier with the use of “mindfulness” techniques, according to new US research.

Learning to pay attention to the present in a focused and non-judgemental or mindful way on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course helped teachers in the study to feel less stressed and to avoid burnout.

Dr Richard Davidson, chair of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, is the study co-author. “The research indicated that simple forms of mindfulness training can help promote a certain type of emotional balance, leading to decreased stress,” he said in an interview on the Centre’s website.

“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.

“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.

Stress, burnout, and ill health are increasing burdens experienced by teachers in schools leading to absenteeism and prematurely leaving the profession.

“This is an area where mindfulness may be particularly important and interesting,” he said.

“We wanted to offer training to teachers in a format that would be engaging and address the concerns that were specifically relevant to their role as teachers,” said lead researcher Lisa Flook in a statement.

Researchers trained 18 teachers to use MBSR techniques designed to handle difficult physical sensations, feelings, and moods and develop empathy for pupils in challenging situations.

Randomly assigned teachers practised a guided meditation at home for at least 15 minutes per day and learned specific strategies for preventing and dealing with stressful factors in the classroom. These included “dropping in”, a process of bringing attention to breathing, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations; and ways of bringing kindness into their experiences, particularly challenging ones.

Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation but was developed for secular use in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts in the United States.

“The most important outcome that we observed is the consistent pattern of results, across a range of self-report and objective measures used in this pilot study, that indicate benefits from practising mindfulness,” Flook said.

Study participant and teacher Elizabeth Miller found that mindfulness could be practised anywhere, and at any time.

“Breath awareness was just one part of the training, but it was something that I was able to consistently put into practice,” Miller said.

“Now I spend more time getting students to notice how they’re feeling, physically and emotionally, before reacting to something. I think this act of self-monitoring was the biggest long-term benefit for both students and teachers.”

In Britain, teachers Richard Burnett and Chris Cullen developed the Mindfulness in Schools project, “.b” or “Stop, Breathe and Be!” programme. After experiencing the benefits of mindfulness themselves they wanted to teach it in the classroom. Their course is now taught in 12 countries.

via Mindfulness Training Helps Reduce Stress for Teachers » The Epoch Times

22 Things Happy People Do Differently

2 June, 2013 at 09:23 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Spirituality, thoughts of the day | Leave a comment
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My comment: Read this! Many useful thoughts… One’s attitudes are of great importance.


This article is from Chiara Fucarino. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to address those with clinical depression or other mental illnesses.

happinessThere are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a person living in the slums of a third world country could be happy and content. I have spent plenty of time amongst both groups to have seen it first hand. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?

It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do…

View original post 1,119 more words

TED talks: All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes

27 January, 2013 at 07:03 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in strange positions.)

Meditation Brings Emotional Transformations in Brain

18 November, 2012 at 07:24 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By Arshdeep Sarao
Epoch Times Staff

U.S. neurologists have discovered that eight weeks of compassion meditation training can produce long-term brain changes and development of positive traits.

The team found that meditation improves emotional stability and response to stress by altering the activity of the amygdala—a brain region involved in regulating emotions and attention.

“This study contributes to a growing body of evidence from scientific studies that meditation practice affects the body and brain in measurable ways,” Dr. Gaëlle Desbordes from Massachusetts General Hospital told The Epoch Times via email.

To study the effects of meditation, adult participants were trained for eight weeks in either compassion meditation or mindful-attention (to develop awareness of breathing, thought, and emotions). A third control group was given health education.

Three weeks before and after training, participants’ brains were scanned while viewing a series of images with different emotional content.

The mindful-attention group showed a reduction in amygdala activation to all emotional stimuli.

“This suggests that mindful attention training reduced emotional reactivity, which is consistent with the overarching hypothesis that mindful meditation practice reduces perceived stress and improves emotional stability,” Desbordes told The Epoch Times.

In the compassion meditation group, the positive emotional content led to similar brain scan results, but the participants who meditated more reported increased amygdala activity in response to images of people in various situations of suffering.

“We think these two forms of meditation cultivate different aspects of mind,” Desbordes said in a press release. “Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala response to seeing people suffer.”

“Increased amygdala activation was also correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, which suggests that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself,” she added.

No effects were observed in the control group.

“Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing,” she said in the release.

The researchers concluded that meditation training impacts emotional processing in everyday life, not just during meditation, and can result in the long-term development of certain traits.

via Meditation Brings Emotional Transformations in Brain | Beyond Science | Science | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Meditation Enhances Mood in Only 5 Weeks

Meditation Helps At-Risk Teens Stay Healthy

19 June, 2012 at 09:17 | Posted in Body & Mind, Children, meditation, Science | Leave a comment
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By Arshdeep Sarao
Epoch Times Staff

Regular meditation from a young age can significantly lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing strain on the heart.

A team of U.S. researchers studied 62 African American teenagers with high blood pressure and found those who meditated twice daily had lower left ventricular mass, which is a predictor of cardiovascular disease.

“Increased mass of the heart muscle’s left ventricle is caused by the extra workload on the heart with higher blood pressure,” said Dr. Vernon A. Barnes at the Georgia Health Sciences University in a press release.

“Some of these teens already had higher measures of left ventricular mass because of their elevated blood pressure, which they are likely to maintain into adulthood.”

To check the effects of meditation, the team randomly assigned teenagers to two different activities for four months.

Thirty teens routinely performed 15 minutes of meditation with a class and 15 minutes at home. Meanwhile, a control group of 32 adolescents did not meditate, but were educated on how to keep blood pressure within a normal range and lower risks for heart disease. The same instructor worked with both groups.

After the study, echocardiogram checkups of the participants’ left ventricular mass (LVM) showed a decrease in the teen group that meditated.

These students also showed behavioral improvements according to their school records.

According to Barnes, meditation provides a period of “deep rest” which decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and release of stress hormones. “As a result, the vasculature relaxes, blood pressure drops and the heart works less.”

In their paper, the researchers explained that previous studies have shown how meditation effectively reduces blood pressure in long-term practitioners and controls indicators of psycho-social stress such as anger, hostility, and depression.

“Statistics indicate that one in every 10 black youths has high blood pressure,” Barnes said. “If practiced over time, the meditation may reduce the risk of these teens developing cardiovascular disease, in addition to other added health benefits.”

This is the first study to demonstrate a decrease in LVM due to meditation. The team hopes it will act as a stepping stone for inclusion of meditation to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.

The findings were published online in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

via Meditation Helps At-Risk Teens Stay Healthy | Beyond Science | Science | Epoch Times

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Study Finds Correlation Between Meditation and Brain Cortex Folding

26 March, 2012 at 08:01 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By Chippy Yan
Epoch Times Staff

A new study from the University of California–Los Angeles found that long-term meditators have more gyrification, or folding, of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Gyrification has been found to be associated with intelligence, though a causal relationship has not been found.

The researchers took MRI scans of 50 meditators and 50 nonmeditators. They found not only that the meditators have more gyrification than nonmeditators, but also that among meditators, those who have meditated for more years have more gyrification.

“The insula [in the cortex] has been suggested to function as a hub for autonomic, affective and cognitive integration,” researcher Eileen Luders said in a press release. “Meditators are known to be masters in introspection and awareness as well as emotional control and self-regulation, so the findings make sense that the longer someone has meditated, the higher the degree of folding in the insula.”

The study was published online in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Read the research paper here.

via Study Finds Correlation Between Meditation and Brain Cortex Folding | Beyond Science | Science | Epoch Times

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Beyond Spirituality: the Role of Meditation in Mental Health

25 January, 2012 at 17:18 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Science, Spirituality | 2 Comments
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By Jonathan Krygier and Andrew Kemp,
The University of Sydney

Meditation has traditionally been associated with Eastern mysticism but science is beginning to show that cultivating a “heightened” state of consciousness can have a major impact on our brain, the way our bodies function and our levels of resilience.

Clinicians are increasingly looking for effective, preventative, non-pharmacological options to treat mental illness. And meditation techniques – such as quietening the mind, understanding the self and exercising control – show promise as an alternative tool to regulate emotions, mood and stress.


Meditation influences the body in unexpected ways. Experienced meditators, for instance, can speed or slow their metabolism by more than 60% and raise their body temperature by as much as 8°C.

Even a little training in meditation can make people calmer, less stressed and more relaxed. As little as 20 minutes a day leads to physical changes, such as reduced blood pressure, lower heart rate, deeper and calmer breathing. Improvements in blood pressure as a result of meditation have also been linked to a lower risk of heart attack.

Meditation is also beginning to prove effective as a treatment for chronic and acute pain. One experiment showed that four days of mindfulness meditation substantially reduced the participant’s experience of unpleasantness and the intensity of their pain.

Mind, braind and beyond

Meditation increases left-sided, frontal brain activity, an area of the brain associated with positive mood. Interestingly, this increase in left-brain activity is also linked with improvements in immune system activity. And the more you practise meditation, the greater your immune function is likely to be.

Studies have shown that long-term meditators have increased volumes of grey matter in the right orbito-frontal cortex and hippocampus regions of their brain which are responsible for regulating emotion. Similar changes have also been found in non-meditators who completed an eight-week course in mindfulness training.

So even a limited stint of meditation has the potential to change the structure of the brain.


The cortex in the brain usually thins as we age – a type of atrophy related to dementia. Intriguingly, those who have meditated around an hour a day for six years display increased cortical thickness. Older meditators also show decreased age-related decline in cortical thickness compared to non-meditators of the same age.

Read more: Beyond spirituality: the role of meditation in mental health – Science Alert

Lessons About Longevity From a 256-Year-Old

18 December, 2011 at 13:02 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Chinese culture, Funny things :-), meditation, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By Christine Lin
Epoch Times Staff

According to legend, Mr. Li Qing Yun 1677–1933 was a Chinese medicine physician, herbal expert, qigong master, and tactical consultant. He was said to have lived through nine emperors in the Qing Dynasty to be 256 years old.

His May 1933 obituary in Time Magazine, titled “Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog,” revealed Li’s secrets of longevity: “Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.”

Mr. Li is said to have had quite unusual habits in his daily living. He did not drink hard liquor or smoke and ate his meals at regular times. He was a vegetarian and frequently drank wolfberry (also known as goji berry) tea.

He slept early and got up early. When he had time, he sat up straight with his eyes closed and hands in his lap, at times not moving at all for a few hours.

In his spare time, Li played cards, managing to lose enough money every time for his opponent’s meals for that day. Because of his generosity and levelheaded demeanor, everyone liked to be with him.

Mr. Li spent his whole life studying Chinese herbs and discovering the secrets of longevity, traveling through provinces of China and as far as Thailand to gather herbs and treat illnesses.

Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.

While it is unclear whether Li actually lived as long as is believed, what little we know of his habits fit with modern science’s findings about longevity.


Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,” researches the science of longevity. In his book and in a 2009 TED talk, he examined the lifestyle habits of four geographically distinct populations around the world.

All of these groups—Californian Adventists, Okinawans, Sardinians, and Costa Ricans—live to be over 100 years of age at a far greater rate than most people, or they live a dozen years longer than average. He calls the places where these groups live “blue zones.”

According to Buettner’s research, all blue-zone groups eat a vegetable-based diet. The group of Adventists in Loma Linda, California, eat plenty of legumes and greens as mentioned in the Bible. Herders living the in the highlands of Sardinia eat an unleavened whole grain bread, cheese from grass-fed animals, and a special wine.

Buettner found that low-calorie diets help in extending life, as demonstrated by a group of healthy elderly Okinawans who practice a Confucian rule of stopping eating when one is 80 percent full.

Perhaps Li’s wolfberry tea played a crucial part in his health. After hearing Li’s story, medical researchers from Britain and France conducted an in-depth study of wolfberry and found that it contains an unknown vitamin called “Vitamin X,” also known as the “beauty vitamin.” Their experiments confirmed that wolfberry inhibits the accumulation of fat and promotes new liver cells, lowers blood glucose and cholesterol, and so on.

Wolfberry performs a role of rejuvenation: It activates the brain cells and endocrine glands; enhances the secretion of hormones; and removes toxins accumulated in the blood, which can help maintain a normal function of body tissues and organs.


Researchers have found numerous benefits to regular meditation. Neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School asked two groups of stressed-out high-tech employees to either meditate over eight weeks or live as they normally do.

They found that the meditators “showed a pronounced shift in activity to the left frontal lobe,” reads a 2003 Psychology Today article. “This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression, and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.”

Meditation also reduces brain shrinkage due to aging and enhances mood.

Aside from meditation, Buettner found that regularly scheduled downtime undoes inflammation, which is a reaction to stress. The Adventists in California strictly adhere to their 24-hour Sabbath and spend the time reflecting, praying, and enjoying their social circles.


Buettner also found that community is a huge factor in the longevity of blue-zone groups. Typical Okinawans have many close friends, with whom they share everything. Sardinian highlanders have a reverence for the elderly not found in modern Western societies. The Adventists put family first.

A sense of belonging and having healthy friends and family encourage the individual to live healthily as well.

In “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell examined a group of Italians called the Rosetans, who migrated to an area west of Bangor, Pennsylvania. Across the board, they had lower incidents of heart disease and generally lived long, healthy lives. After experiments, it was determined that their secret was not genetics or even diet (41 percent of their diet came from fat).

“The Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world,” Gladwell wrote. “The Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills.”

Purposeful Living

In his travels, Buettner came across a common theme among blue-zone groups: None of them had the concept of retirement. As it turns out, to keep going makes it easier to keep going.

Purposeful living into the sunset years is a mantra to the Okinawans and Sardinians. In those groups, Buettner met centenarian men and women who continued to climb hills, build fences, fish, and care for great-great-great-great grandchildren.

Interestingly, none of these centenarians exercise purposely as we Westerners who go to the gym do. “They simply live active lives that warrant physical activity,” Buettner said. They all walk, cook, and do chores manually, and many of them garden.

Based on an article about Li Qing Yun from Kan Zhong Guo (Secret China)

via Lessons About Longevity From a 256-Year-Old | Environment & Health | Health | Epoch Times

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Meditation May Prevent Psychiatric Disorders, Study Suggests

30 November, 2011 at 12:53 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Science, Spirituality | 2 Comments
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By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Epoch Times Staff

Experienced meditators may be able to switch off areas of the brain associated with daydreaming, anxiety, and certain psychiatric disorders like autism and schizophrenia, according to a new U.S. study.

“Meditation has been shown to help in a variety of health problems, such as helping people quit smoking, cope with cancer, and even prevent psoriasis,” the study’s lead author Judson A. Brewer of Yale University said in a press release.

The researchers performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on experienced and novice meditators using three different meditation techniques.

The results showed decreased activity in the default mode network (DMN) in experienced meditators. This neural network has been associated with anxiety-based illnesses, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and plaque formation in Alzheimer’s disease.

Decreased activity was seen in brain regions involved in this network, such as the medial prefrontal and posterior cingulated cortices, irrespective of the form of meditation undertaken during the experiment.

Similarly, when the DMN was active, brain areas linked to self-monitoring and cognitive control were found to be co-activated in experienced meditators but not in novices. This also happened when the meditators were not meditating but simply resting.

Meditation has been linked with increased happiness, said Brewer, according to the release.

The scientists believe that meditators can focus on the present moment better, and are constantly suppressing self-centered and wandering thoughts, which are strongly associated with autism and schizophrenia.

“Meditation’s ability to help people stay in the moment has been part of philosophical and contemplative practices for thousands of years,” Brewer said.

“Conversely, the hallmarks of many forms of mental illness is a preoccupation with one’s own thoughts, a condition meditation seems to affect. This gives us some nice cues as to the neural mechanisms of how it might be working clinically.”

via Meditation May Prevent Psychiatric Disorders, Study Suggests | Beyond Science | Science | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Meditation Enhances Mood in Only 5 Weeks

Nourish Heart and Mind With Half-Hour Meditation

27 October, 2011 at 10:01 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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The benefits

Office staff members are always tense. They end up with backaches, anxiety, and sallow complexions. Although they may have gym memberships, they hardly use them. When they do, they frequently exercise excessively.

Meditation is also an exercise. During meditation, one’s brain becomes quiet; one’s mood becomes calm; one’s meridians are open and energy flows freely; and one’s body relaxes. As a result, one can sleep better and stay healthy.

Meditation Improves Memory. Many people think only disciples of Buddha or Tao meditate, which is not the case. Wang Yangming, a famous philosopher from the Ming Dynasty, said that he regained his health by meditating.

Associate professor Wang Yong from the Third Xinan Hospital’s Military Medical College said, “When we sit crossed-legged, we open our hip joints to the maximum and the abdominal cavity will become spacious. When the blood and energy circulate into the abdominal cavity, all the inner organs in the cavity will be nourished.

Refuel Yourself for Half an Hour Every Day. Human vitality is like a tank of gas—it can be used up. Meditation can refill the tank. It is a source of energy.

Wang Yong also said that meditation is very suitable for busy office staff.

It is also easy: Put the right foot under the left leg, the left foot on the right leg, the hands on the calves with palms facing up. Breathe through the nose with the neck naturally straight. Then you will feel an ache in the legs and back because you are exercising parts you don’t usually use.

A key step in meditation is to pay attention to your breath. Breathing should be gentle and slow, not rapid. You can meditate on an imagined picture or a sound or just on your breath, which will help you collect yourself.

There is no restriction on location. It can be done at home, in the office, even on a train or on a plane. It is good to start with 15 to 30 minutes, gradually increasing to one hour. It is all right to look at the time once or twice during meditation. With more and more meditation, a biological clock of 30 minutes will naturally be set.

If you can’t calm down, you can try listening to gentle music.


via Nourish Heart and Mind With Half-Hour Meditation | Health | Epoch Times

The Science of Happiness

7 October, 2011 at 18:13 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By Leonardo Vintiñi
Epoch Times Staff

Everybody longs for happiness, but it seems like a hidden treasure.

One way or another—consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly—everything we do, our every hope, is related to a deep desire for happiness.

With 256 electrodes on his shaven head, French Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, author of the book “Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill,” showed the same natural smile that always accompanies him wherever he goes.

His left prefrontal cortex, a zone of the brain especially active in persons with positive thoughts, shows activity beyond any parameter of normality.

As a molecular biologist, Ricard recognizes the results given by magnetic cerebral resonance: According to science, his mental state could only correspond to that of the happiest man on the planet.

The Happy Brain

Years of studies brought the scientists to discern with great precision that the activity of the left prefrontal cortex is found to be strongly related to the feeling of well-being, while negative emotional states leave their impression in the right prefrontal area.

To the scientists’ surprise, the studies revealed a clear pattern in those subjects who possessed “happy brains.” They were not those who had achieved the most economically or materially in life, but rather a radically different group altogether—Tibetan monks and professional meditators.

Subjected to an exhaustive experiment with brain scans, a group of longtime meditators who practiced a type of meditation focused on compassion were able to transform the anatomy of the brain in surprising ways. They increased the levels of positive emotion, as observed in the left prefrontal cortex. They also diminished the activity in the right prefrontal lobe related to depression, diminished the activity of the amygdala, which is a region of the brain related to fear and anger; and increased the duration and depth of attention.

The scientists concluded that the compassion produced by certain types of meditation made the brain serene, reaching a state of well-being. The happiness of the meditators consisted of a state in which there was absence of fear and complete control of the emotions.

Similarly, most people experience the so-called state of flow during certain stages of intellectual or physical exercise, a feeling of happiness that thrills the mind when it is fully at one with what it is doing.

According to Dr. Daniel Goleman, internationally recognized for his work in the field of psychology, the state of flow is a spontaneous sensation of delight and pleasant surprise.

In agreement with Goleman’s explanation, people become so absorbed in the state of flow that their attention and consciousness blend with their actions.

In contrast to what neurologists have thought for some time, when the focused mind involves itself in a task, as in the state of flow, the brain produces less activity. It appears to have less of the “neuronal noise” observed when the mind wanders. It is similar, though more elusive, to the state developed by those who meditate frequently.

Thus, happiness, according to scientific findings, is a state that is not reachable by material means; rather, it is a consequence of emotional indifference and the compassionate contemplation of the universe. It is more linked to altruism than to egoism—more spiritual than material.

via The Science of Happiness | Science | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Falun Gong: An Ancient Meditation Revived for the Modern World

Meditation Associated With Better Brain Connections

15 July, 2011 at 09:06 | Posted in meditation, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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Epoch Times Staff

Meditation may increase connectivity between different parts of the brain and reduce brain shrinkage due to aging, suggests a study from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Eileen Luders and colleagues compared the brain activity of 27 meditation practitioners versus 27 control participants matched in age and gender, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a contemporary imaging method that reveals structural connectivity in the brain.

The meditators had been practicing for 5 to 46 years, using various styles, and had an average age of 52.

The researchers found various differences between the brains of the two groups, namely large-scale networks across various brain regions, including the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes, the anterior corpus callosum, and the brain stem.

“Our results suggest that long-term meditators have white-matter fibers that are either more numerous, more dense or more insulated throughout the brain,” said Luders in a press release.

“We also found that the normal age-related decline of white-matter tissue is considerably reduced in active meditation practitioners.”

Read more: Meditation Associated With Better Brain Connections | Science | Epoch Times

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Reduced by Meditation

17 June, 2011 at 21:10 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Science | 2 Comments
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By Ginger Chan
Epoch Times Staff

Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars showed a 50 percent improvement in their post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD following eight weeks of practicing meditation, researchers report in this month’s issue of Military Medicine.

Researchers, led by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, studied five veterans who had engaged in moderate or heavy moderate combat for 10 months to two years in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

The veterans were taught the Transcendental Meditation technique and then evaluated mainly according to the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), a tool used to diagnose and assess PTSD in trauma survivors.

The investigators found that all of the veterans showed significant improvement in their CAPS scores. Moreover, the veterans showed improved scores on other surveys such as the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire.

“Even though the number of veterans in this study was small, the results were very impressive,” says Rosenthal in a press release. “These young men were in extreme distress as a direct result of trauma suffered during combat, and the simple and effortless Transcendental Meditation technique literally transformed their lives.”

He reasons that meditation helps by decreasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which, in those with PTSD, is overactive and responsible for over-reactivity to stress. “Transcendental Meditation quiets down the nervous system, and slows down the ‘fight-or’flight’ response.”

Read more: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Reduced by Meditation | Science | Epoch Times

Meditation Causes Changes in Brain Structure

20 March, 2011 at 08:29 | Posted in Body & Mind, meditation, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By Clara De La Luna
Epoch Times Staff

A study by scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Bender Institute of Neuroimaging in Germany found that deep meditation for 27 minutes a day for eight weeks produced changes in the areas of the brain associated with memory, empathy, and stress.

Dr. Britta Hölzel was the lead author of the study, published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging on Jan. 30. She says, “It’s fascinating to see the plasticity of the brain, and the practice of meditation can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase prosperity and the quality of life.”

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of tranquility and physical relaxation, doctors have long argued that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says Dr. Sara Lazar, a coauthor of the study.

Read more: Meditation Causes Changes in Brain Structure | Health | Epoch Times

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