Meeting Compassionate Doctors, Scientists and Meditation Masters at the 2013 Buddhism and Medicine Forum
The fourth installment of the Buddhism and Medicine series of conferences, a grand experiment bringing together Buddhist Masters, Doctors and Scientists, took place from May 31st through June 2nd at…
What can we really count on?
One of the most fundamental insights of spiritual practice is that despite all the safeguards civilization provides, the feelings of security we achieve through work, relationships and family, etc, we…
Tahiti’s top 5 stress management tips
Maybe it all began with the florid yet languid images of Paul Gauguin. But maybe it was the exotic tale of sailors in Mutiny on the Bountyrisking all for the romantic…
Phakchok Rinpoche: Overcoming our Ego and our Judgmental Mind
Phakchok Rinpoche explains how we can identify our ego by observing the process of our judgmental mind. He goes on to describe that through meditation and compassion we can learn…
Remembering Sisyphus: Everyday life is fuel for Spiritual Practice
In the great myth, Sisyphus is condemned by the gods, day in and out, to roll a large boulder up to the top of a steep mountain. When the stone…
Tsoknyi Rinpoche: Healing our Trauma and Stress
Theses days, it seems like nearly everyone is barely managing to cope with the stress of day-to-day life. In addition, we are often reacting to situations based on unhealed wounds…
Transcending our Addiction to a Busy Life
A busy life can be experienced as an addictive video game, comprising the twisty route from a morning coffee to the time we return home and close the door on…
Sogyal Rinpoche - Awake 2013 in Sydney
Here is a full teaching from Sogyal Rinpoche on meditation and understanding the mind which he gave in Sydney at the end of March 2013.
Phakchok Rinpoche - Creating space in daily life
Sometimes it seems so difficult to meditate. We might try to sit, but our minds are all over the place; or perhaps we have too much pressure and stress in…
Sogyal Rinpoche - Who are we?
In this video, Sogyal Rinpoche suggests an alternative to the habitual self-identification with our thoughts and emotions. Normally, it is as if the thoughts about who we are or what…
Adam Engle - Creating a planetary awareness of fitnees for the mind
Adam Engle argues that most of the biggest problems in the world and for individuals are made by human beings. But recent developments in contemplative science are paving the way…
To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. If you want to attain perfect calmness in your zazen [meditation], you should not be bothered by the various images you find in your mind. Let them come, and let them go. Then they will be under control.
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Marieke van Vugt
I am a neuroscientist studying memory and decision making using neural activity and computational models. In my free time, I am a dancer. I have been a student of Sogyal Rinpoche since approximately 1998. I am fascinated by the human mind and brain, and like to study it both from the first-person perspective (my own mind) and the third-person perspective (other people's minds).
One of the first findings on the effects of meditation on the brain were very large amounts of gamma brain waves reported in long-term practitioners (Lutz et al (2004)). An important problem with that study was the fact that we had no idea how these gamma waves came about. Were they caused by the meditation or were the people that took part in this study simply weird people? Recently, a new study was published that shed light on this issue.
At this same retreat with Yangthang Rinpoche that I wrote about before, we were all very impressed with the being of this amazing lama. It is quite moving to meet such a special human being, which is why I want to share it with you.
I am currently at a retreat in Lerab Ling, where we had a visit by an amazing lama from Sikkim: Yangthang Rinpoche. One of the most penetrating teachings he gave was about renunciation. Now that may sound really scary or irrelevant for modern life, but in fact I felt it was exactly about how to be a real practitioner of meditation in today's complex and busy world. The teaching gave me a lot of things to think about, which inspired me to write this blog, as a means of reflection.
As in previous years, I was fortunate enough to attend the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute. At this summer school, a group of scientists and practitioners get together to discuss on-going research into the nature of contemplative practice, and future avenues. What is quite special is that we do not only discuss contemplative practices (such as yoga and meditation) but also practise them ourselves. Every morning starts with yoga and meditation, and every evening ends with it as well. Participants observe silence between the evening meditation and morning meditation. We even have one full day of practice, which is an absolutely interesting experience: in addition to talking about how we can study contemplative practice scientifically, we also get to study ourselves in our own portable laboratory.
The world of science and technology develops really quickly. Recently I read a very intriguing paper that pushes the boundaries of what we believe about meditation training. In that paper, they investigated the feasibility of delivering a mind-body intervention in a virtual world. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a very frequently-used treatment for a wide range of disorders. What is a common question amongst those scientists studying contemplative practice is to what extent the efficacy of this intervention is in fact caused by social group effects; the fact that people attend weekly meetings, feel part of a supportive group, meet with a charismatic teacher.