The neuroscience of wellbeing

Jock Gilchrist, The Review: Meditation has been a central component of religious traditions for millennia. Various methods exist, but it generally consists of quieting the mind to achieve a state of relaxation and clarity. Buddhists use it to cultivate virtuous qualities like compassion and equanimity because in the meditative state, the mind is compared to malleable gold. As it turns out, the sages of old actually tapped into quite a literal truth.

Modern neurobiology hypothesizes that what we experience subjectively as a mood or emotion is underpinned by complex, systemic interactions of chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain. Take, for example, antidepressants: they …

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