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Bodhipaksa

May 22, 2013

The science of happiness and compassion (Day 41)

100 Days of LovingkindnessCompassion is becoming a “hot topic” in scientific research, and the good news is that compassion has been shown to be innate, and that it makes us happier, more popular, and healthier.

1. Compassion is wired into us

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology observed two-year-olds’ reactions to seeing an adult who needed help because he or she had dropped an object and had trouble picking it up. The children’s pupil size increased — a sign of heightened concern — when they saw the adult in distress. Their concern decreased if they were allowed to help (and 10 out of 12 children chose to do so) or if …

Wildmind Meditation News

Apr 22, 2013

Who you hang out with can affect your mental health, for good or for bad

One of the things the Buddha stressed very strongly in his teachings was being careful who we choose to spend time with. This is because our values and our mental habits will tend to align themselves with the values and mental habits of others.

At his bluntest he said things like: “Should a seeker not find a companion who is better or equal, let him resolutely pursue a solitary course; there is no fellowship with the fool.” (Dhammapada 61).

He also praised association with friends who embody skillful qualities:

“I do not see even a single thing that so causes unarisen wholesome qualities to arise and arisen unwholesome qualities to decine as good friendship (kalyana mittata). For one with good friends, unarisen wholesome

Bodhipaksa

Apr 21, 2013

Smile your way to kindness (Day 10)

Lotus, isolated on whiteLook at a statue or painting of the Buddha. You’ll usually find that he’s smiling. And one thing that can help us find a friendly attitude is adopting a smile, even when we don’t feel like it.

I think pretty much everyone now knows that smiling affects our physiology and how we feel. One study, for example, got people to hold chopsticks in their teeth in a way that created an artificial smile. The participants didn’t actually know that they were smiling, and yet their physiology changed. They were able to recover more quickly from stressful situations than non-smiling participants, and had lower heart rates. They were literally able to …

Bodhipaksa

Apr 16, 2013

Embodying lovingkindness (Day 5)

Lotus, isolated on whiteThere’s a lot of confidence involved in lovingkindness, especially with lovingkindness toward oneself (self-metta), and this confidence is reflected in the body. When we’re feeling loving toward ourselves or others we’re upright, the chest is open — the heart is open — and we’re relaxed. There’s a feeling of softness, but also of stength. Metta is definitely not a weak or passive state. It involves a confident stance.

When we lack confidence, we often slump. The shoulders roll forwards. The chest collapses so that we can’t breathe well. The heart is closed. We look down, limiting our horizons both literally and figuratively. We become inward turned, and we ruminate in …

Bodhipaksa

Apr 13, 2013

Taking kindness to heart (Day 2)

Lotus, isolated on whiteToday, as part of 100 Days of Lovingkindness, where we focus on the development of basic kindness and compassion, we’ll continue with the practice of self-metta.

I’m suggesting a simple practice today to help you bring a more kindly attitude into your daily life.

It’s simply this: be aware of your heart.

I’m not talking about noticing your heart beating, but about bringing awareness to the central part of your chest, and coming back to that over and over again during the day.

This area of the body is very important in terms of emotion, which is why “emotion” and “the heart” are virtually synonymous. And even more crucially, “love” and “the heart” …

Wildmind Meditation News

Apr 12, 2013

What’s up Doc?: Has meditation gone mainstream? Blame science!

David Saunders, The Cornell Daily Sun: The word ‘meditation’ may invoke any number of images. Perhaps the likeness of the Dalai Lama sitting quiescently in meditative repose, legs crossed, eyes closed, hands resting gently in his lap. Maybe stereotypical meditation paraphernalia such as a singing bowl, a meditation cushion or a Tibetan prayer flag comes to mind. All of these images, and countless more, contribute to and result from pre-conceptions of what meditation is, where it takes place, who does it and why.

I recently took time off from medical school at Weill Cornell to pursue a Ph.D. in religious studies at…

Read the original article »

Wildmind Meditation News

Apr 04, 2013

The science behind meditation, and why it makes you feel better

George Dvorsky, io9: Meditation yields a surprising number of health benefits, including stress reduction, improved attention, better memory, and even increased creativity and feelings of compassion. But how can something as simple as focusing on a single object produce such dramatic results? Here’s what the growing body of scientific evidence is telling us about meditation and how it can change the way our brains function.

Before we get started it’s worth doing a quick review of what is actually meant by meditation. The practice can take on many different forms, but the one technique that appears most beneficial, and which also happens to be…

Read the original article »

Bodhipaksa

Apr 01, 2013

Research publications on mindfulness 1980 to 2011

MRG_permission_figure

This rather stunning graph comes from the Mindfulness Research Guide. It’s based on data obtained from a search for “mindfulness” in the ISI Web of Science database. The search was limited to research-related articles..

Bodhipaksa

Mar 26, 2013

How meditation can help students to stay focused and improve their grades

teen meditatingEvery summer I spend six weeks teaching a study skills and personal development course to teens from low income families as part of a federally funded program called Upward Bound (not Outward Bound). It’s kind of crazy: every year I feel like I almost totally miss the summer because I’m teaching, grading, doing class prep, and attending various meetings. I end up sleep-deprived and completely exhausted. And the pay’s not great. But it’s totally worth it.

Part of the course involves meditation, and it’s consistently the part of the course that gets the biggest positive response in the end-of-course evaluations that the kids hand in. I’ve described the educational benefits mostly in …

Bodhipaksa

Feb 21, 2013

When you harm others, you harm yourself

casualties-of-war-movie-poster-1989-1020469753The statement in the title of this post is a common belief in spiritual and religious circles, but it appears there’s some hard evidence that when you harm others, you harm yourself as well.

According to a press release from the Association for Psychological Science, researchers looked into why it is that some soldiers (31.6%) who have traumatic combat exposure develop PTSD.

It seems that three factors are important: age, a history of childhood physical abuse, and harming civilians or POWs.

…childhood experiences of physical abuse or a pre-Vietnam psychiatric disorder other than PTSD were strong contributors to PTSD onset. Age also seemed to play an important role: Men who were younger than