Jo Marchant: High in the mountains of northern Colorado, a 100-foot tall tower reaches up through the pinetops. Brightly coloured and strung with garlands, its ornate gold leaf glints in the sun. With a shape that symbolises a giant seated Buddha, this lofty stupa is intended to inspire those on the path to enlightenment.
Visitors here to the Shambhala Mountain Centre meditate in silence for up to 10 hours every day, emulating the lifestyle that monks have chosen for centuries in mountain refuges from India to Japan. But is it doing them any good? For two three-month retreats held in 2007, this haven for the eastern spiritual tradition opened its doors to western science. As … Read more »
The emotional undertow of aging, I think, is a feeling of loss — Loss of youth, loss of dreams, loss of possibility.This quality is what used to be referred to as mid-life crisis. Other phrases have come into vogue now — such as the cheery “60 is the new 40” — but the undertow of such homilies is still loss. Is there some way out of this sense of loss, some fresh point of view that assuages the pain of it? Actually, there is. Aging is not a matter of years — forty, sixty, eighty — but of life process. Everything is aging, all the time. We age from our first breath. The problem is
The image of the ancient but youthful-looking sage meditating on a mountaintop might be closer to reality than you think, according to a new study that found that after a three-month stay at a meditation retreat, people showed higher levels of an enzyme associated with longevity.
The study is preliminary and didn’t show that meditation actually extends life, but the findings suggest a possible means by which it could.
Researchers led by Tonya Jacobs of the University of California-Davis compared 30 participants at a meditation retreat held at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado with matched controls on a waiting list for the retreat. Participants meditated six hours per day for three months. Their meditation … Read more »
Games geared toward working out the brain can improve cognitive functioning from middle age on. Most of us now know that we can keep our gray matter in peak form and even help stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s through mental exercises.
But change doesn’t come easy. Whether we are working on our memory or trying to meditate, brain-training exercises require a high level of mental focus to pay off in the end.
“It’s not easy to drive the brain’s connectivity,” said Michael Merzenich, an emeritus professor at UC San Francisco and a leading researcher in neuroplasticity. “You have to be engaged. I go nowhere if I’m not really paying attention to what I’m doing.”
The … Read more »
The brains of highly successful people function differently from those of the average Joe, according to the authors of the new book, The Winner’s Brain.
Fortunately, they say, you can actually rewire your brain, even physically change it.
Assistant neuroscience professor Mark Fenske of the University of Guelph and cognitive behavioural psychologist Jeff Brown of Harvard Medical School sought input from other brain experts and a variety of individuals they deemed “winners” – from blues guitarist B.B. King to Aaron Fechter, the inventor of popular carnival game Whac-a-Mole.
They identified eight “win factors,” including self-awareness, motivation, focus, emotional balance, memory, resilience, adaptability and brain care.
Here, Dr. Fenske explains that, with practice, it’s possible … Read more »
Susan Moon is one of Buddhism’s funniest writers. In this new book, Bodhipaksa finds, she’s also one of Buddhism’s most honest, moving, and beautiful writers.
My first encounter with Susan Moon’s writings was The Life and Letters of Tofu Roshi, which fondly parodied the language, idiom, and culture of the Zen tradition in which Moon practices. It’s the best Buddhist humor writing I’ve come across. That was in 1980, which is 30 years ago, now. That’s a long time. Realizing that makes me feel old, which is appropriate since Moon’s latest … Read more »
The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation has announced data demonstrating that a meditation performed daily for eight weeks increased brain activity in areas central to memory and actually improved cognition in patients suffering from memory problems. The results of the study, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, will be published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in April, 2010.
The risk of Alzheimer’s disease rises dramatically as people age and, as the ranks of our nation’s elderly swell, the number of people facing this dreadful disease will devastate our already overburdened healthcare system. Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s by five or ten years would lessen this burden dramatically, but few options to slow, or perhaps … Read more »
Scientific experts now believe we have in-built mechanisms that can fight and reverse the aging process. Innovative research into the reversal of aging is well underway and, while scientists debate the many different theories, research has revealed that meditation dramatically affects the production of three important hormones related to stress, longevity and aging.
Cortisol, DHEA and Melatonin.
Cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, is naturally produced by the adrenal glands. Our bodies produce cortisol (and adrenaline) when we react to stress. Long term or chronic stress however means that the body is over exposed to these hormones, and this can lead to increased anxiety, depression, an inability to cope, and ultimately, physical illness.
David Zava, Ph.D., a … Read more »
According to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, 90% of all adult illness is due to the degenerative processes of aging. Anti-aging medicine, aiming for longevity and optimal health, is most certainly the ‘specialty’ of the future and is based on the early detection, prevention and reversal of age-related disease. While science continues to search for answers, research has already revealed that meditation is a potent anti-aging practice that can take years off your physiological age.
STRESS = AGING
Aging is most certainly a complex issue with many factors coming into play, but one thing that researchers do agree on is that stress (mental, emotional, and physical) causes us to age.
Eva Selhub, MD, Medical … Read more »