After my Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics I got somehow pulled away from science and now work as an International IT Manager.
I practise meditation since 2004 following the approaches of Qigong, Zazen and Vajrayana Buddhism.
Researchers used biofeedback for many years to help people improve their health or mood. Some of these used different brain imaging techniques, such as EEG. Now there is a new way to see what kinda thoughts you are having, and correct them on the spot. Researchers at the University of British Columbia resently published their research on how to eventually help people combat depression or obsessive-compulsive disorders. The general idea is not at all different from meditation: watch your thoughts, and realise they are just thoughts. Then let them go. But the tools to help this process is something that yogis in the Himalaya perhaps never even dreamt of - an MRI machine connected to a screen.
Read more in the Vancuver Sun
Somehow it’s hard for me to talk about meditation without relating it to some notion of teacher and teaching. Perhaps you already have a teacher and made a decision long ago that it’s time to get serious, or maybe you don’t want to have anything to do with teachers, but you think meditation might be a good idea. Whatever it may be, once you start practising you’ll also start to notice the constant blogging that’s going on in your mind. I’m talking about these opinion makers, commenting on every move you make - filling the pages of your inner web till your head becomes so thick you can’t differentiate between conception and perception. It’s a common problem.
Imagine for 8 days you have no mobile, no television, no email, no mp3 player, no radio, no newspaper, no Internet and you are not supposed to talk at all except once a day. You spend these 8 days in a retreat place sorrounded by a lovely countryside together with a few others in complete silence.
Would you be willing to participate in such an experiment, to see what effect silence or more precisely a full week spent in silent contemplation and meditation has on you?
When I started meditating several years ago, it became pretty obvious after a while that meditation had a very positive effect on my general well-being, health and management skills at work. But I had little idea why it really worked. As a scientist (I specialised in theoretical Quantum Physics), that was quite some problem for me. After all, meditation is a subjective experience, whereas science is focused on objective measurements and reproducible results, so I was naturally running into a clash of paradigms.
People told me that meditation was a way to train or tame my mind, to finally gain control over my busy monkey mind, rather than being a victim of patterns and habits and always falling prey to what I thought and felt. But what is this mind after all? Buddhism and other spiritual traditions provide lots of answers, yet my scientific appetite was not yet satisfied. To cut a long story short, I couldn't find any convincing scientific explanation of what mind really is. The best I read was about a ‘non-local coherent superposition of quantum states in the brain’ (ok, I liked that as it sounded somewhat familiar to me).
Unsurprisingly, most scientific approaches indicate a connection between the physical brain, which can be measured and experimentally investigated by neuroscience, with the non-physical mind (have you ever seen, tasted or smelled your mind?), so they claim that it should be possible to get at least some idea of how meditation works if you study its effects on the brain.
There is a wide range of articles on experiments that have been carried out on people while they are meditating. One of the most prominent and fascinating people who have been wired up in the laboratory so far is Mingyur Rinpoche, a young Tibetan meditation master whose readings when he was meditating were off the charts. The following interview is taken from View magazine, Rigpa’s online journal.
Some facts, statistics and scientific research on meditation
Scientific research into the positive effects of even a few minutes of daily meditation is burgeoning and the results are clear—meditation is good for you. Even Oprah says so!
So, what does the science actually say? And how does meditation help people? Here is a small selection of facts and statistics coming out of some of the scientific research. The list is very far from complete so please share any other findings you might know of on our Community forum page.
Speaking from my own experience meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself in your life. It gives me the stability and confidence to cope with the daily necessities and the many challenges of modern life.
At the same time, we all hear so many different things about meditation that it can sometimes be hard to know where and how to begin: "What does it actually mean to meditate? Do I have to sit up straight? How can I deal with the avalanche of thoughts that pop up in my mind as soon as I try to be calm? Is it the goal to be calm?"
Our 10-step guide to meditation aims to answer some of the questions you might have, and to explain why meditation can have such a powerful and beneficial effect on every aspect of your lives.
Most importantly, you will get the chance to experience meditation for yourself.
A step-by-step introduction to meditation.
Sogyal Rinpoche explains that the essence of meditation is very simple.
Sogyal Rinpoche says the secret of meditation is learning how to be with yourself—and not thinking too much.