Jun 13, 2011
My first read of The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body, by Dr. Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins, generated mild interest in the science behind Dr. Fehmi’s techniques and descriptions of case studies using the techniques.
However, the night I listened to the guided exercises on the attached CD, I had one of the most relaxed, light, and blissful experiences I’ve had in the last eleven years as a serious meditator.
I was able to reach a state I’ve only accessed during long silent meditation retreats.
The Buddhist concept of emptiness came vividly alive in my body, whereas before it had been mostly an …
Jun 03, 2011
Well, there’s a good reason why. It can make you a happier and better person.
In an experiment in the UK, people were asked to reflect about death in an abstract way, were asked to imagine their own death, or (as a control) were asked to imagine toothache.
Next, the participants were given an article, supposedly from the BBC, about blood donations. Some people read an article saying that blood donations were “at record highs” and the need was low; others read another article
May 20, 2011
Buddhist meditation traditions speak of five hindrances to meditation. No, this isn’t things like throbbing knees or the neighbor playing his stereo too loud. The hindrances are five mental states or activities that “hijack” the mind and make it hard, if not impossible, for us to stay focused in meditation. The central one of these hindrances is doubt.
In English we use the word doubt to mean many things. We can talk about doubt in terms of a willingness to question, and a desire to …
Jun 29, 2010
The visualization of the Medicine Buddha has long been believed by Buddhists to promote healing. Bodhipaksa suggests a mechanism by which this might actually work.
The effects that the mind has on the body are as mysterious as they are profound. We’re all familiar with the placebo effect, where a medically inactive substance that looks like a medicine leads to actual healing. In one dramatic demonstration a doctor flicks a switch which he says switches on and off a device that has been implanted in the brain of a patient with Parkinson’s disease. When the switch is “on,” the patient’s trembling dramatically subsides. When the switch is off, the patient begins to …
Mar 23, 2010
The mind has a limited ability to pay attention — as any meditator knows. But we can use the mind’s limited capacity to enter, quickly and easily, states of calmness, concentration, and contentment.
One thing that science has revealed to us with startling clarity is that the brain has a limited capacity for consciously processing information. On one end of the cognitive process our brains do have a very high storage capacity. And on the other end our senses are broadband — able to present to us several megabytes of information every second. But in between the brain’s ability to memorize vast quantities of words, skills, and names, and the senses’ ability to input large …
Feb 23, 2010
We spend much of our time and energy trying to pretend impermanence isn’t real, but the strange thing is that when we embrace impermanence we become happier, Bodhipaksa argues.
Here’s a very “queer thing” about life: sometimes the things that we think will make us miserable actually make us happier. When Professor Eric D. Miller of Kent State University’s Department of Psychology asked people to imagine the death of their partner they reported that they felt more positive about their relationships and less troubled by their significant others’ annoying quirks.
We live in a world marked by constant change and impermanence. The things we love decay and perish. The people we love will pass …
Sep 11, 2009
For years westerners have assumed that Buddhists must be a miserable lot: their teachings dwell so much on suffering. But recent scientific research suggests what Buddhists have believed all along. Buddhism — or at least Buddhist meditation — leads to happiness.
Media headlines in the last few years have trumpeted new research into the effects of meditation on brain activity, behavior and even resistance to disease. The findings are still provisional, but as the philosopher Owen Flanagan commented in New Scientist magazine: “The most reasonable hypothesis is that there’s something about conscientious …
Sep 10, 2009
Are science and spirituality “non-overlapping magisteria” (as the late Stephen J. Gould put it), or can some overlap indeed be found? B. Alan Wallace, lecturer, scholar, and noted Buddhist practitioner, believes that it’s time for scientists and meditators to team up (and indeed for scientists to become meditators) in order to study the mind from within.
Alan Wallace became a Buddhist monk in the early 1970s, ordained by the Dalai Lama in India. After 14 years of training and retreats, he returned to the US to study physics and the history and philosophy of science. Since then he’s been trying to find meeting points for his two enthusiasms — Buddhism and science …
Jul 27, 2009
A new book by Buddhist practitioner and writer B. Alan Wallace aims to bridge the gap between the worlds of science and of spirituality, but positing an adventurous new “Special Theory of Ontological Relativity.” Reviewer William Harryman expresses ambivalence about Wallace’s bold endeavor.
I like Alan Wallace. He is one of my favorite Buddhist scholars. In fact, I recently reviewed his newest book — Mind in the Balance — very favorably. When he is talking about Buddhism, he is in his element. There are few people writing today with a better understanding of Buddhist history and tradition, especially Tibetan Buddhism, than Wallace. When he gets into the field of …
Apr 24, 2009
Henri Matisse: “When we speak of nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of nature.”
If science is about the study of cause and effect in the physical world, meditation is, Bodhipaksa argues, a form of inner science that helps us to understand how to avoid creating pain for ourselves and others.
Matisse said: “When we speak of nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.”
Although Matisse was an artist rather than a scientist, he has a lot to say to those of us who are interested in the …