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You are browsing all posts tagged with the topic: science

Bodhipaksa

Sep 06, 2013

Can changing how you think about stress make you healthier?

kelly mcgIn this fascinating TED talk, meditation teacher and health psychologist Kelly McGonigal presents evidence suggesting that stress itself isn’t harmful, but the belief that stress is harmful is! The belief that stress is harmful would then be a form of the nocibo effect — the opposite of the placebo effect — where believing something is harmful makes it so.

Can changing how you think about stress make you healthier? According to McGonigal the science says yes. When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.

Believing that stress is normal and healthy protects your blood vessels, promotes healing in the heart, and leads to the release of …

Bodhipaksa

Aug 16, 2013

Could an awareness of the heartbeat be a vital component of empathy?

Corazon de PiedraAn awareness of the heart (the physical organ, not the metaphorical seat of emotion) and its role in empathy. Noticing the heart concerns a process called interoceptive awareness (IA), which is just a fancy term for how we monitor the body’s internal state. There’s evidence that interoceptive awareness is important for social cognition, including empathy.

Neuroscientists think we detect our own heart-beats via two routes. One is “somatosensory” — that is, we feel the movement of the heart’s beat through our sense of touch. The other route is via the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain down to the heart and beyond, and which carries electrical impulses in both directions.

The …

Bodhipaksa

Jun 07, 2013

Seven qualities that science says make us happy (Day 56)

100 Days of LovingkindnessThe practice of mudita, or appreciative joy, is summed up in these words from the first century:

When one sees or hears that some person’s qualities are esteemed by others, and that he is at peace and is joyful, one thinks thus: “Sadhu! Sadhu! May he continue joyful for a long time!”

We’re focusing on the good qualities that people have, as well as the peace and joy that those good qualities bring. I want to focus today on those good qualities, so that we may more readily detect them in ourselves and others. We can’t rejoice in what we do not see.

Dr. David Myers, professor of psychology at Hope College …

Wildmind Meditation News

May 22, 2013

Brain can be trained in compassion, study shows

Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion — the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.

A new study by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. The report, published Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, investigates whether training adults in compassion can result in greater altruistic behavior and related changes in neural systems underlying compassion.

“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults? Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?’” says Helen Weng, lead author …

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…

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