Quiet Mind Meditation

This is a quiet space .. designed to inspire, nurture and support your meditation practice so that you might find your own quiet mind

Monday, 22 November 2010

Meditation Research

The Shambhala Mountain Centre in Colorado has for four decades offered instruction and retreat to students serious about meditation and yoga. In February 2007 it also became a scientific laboratory with the introduction of the Shamatha Project which sought to put some rigour around the claimed effects of meditation.

In a randomized, controlled study, the project looked at how intensive meditation training affects the way people think and feel. It employed cognitive and perceptual tasks, emotional provocation, questionnaires, and physiological and biochemical monitoring to assess people’s skills and behavior before during, and after long-term, intensive meditative practice.

Led by Dr. B. Alan Wallace, founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, as well as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Dr Wallace seeks to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices and Western science to advance the study of the mind. The Shamatha Project was directed by Clifford Saron, a Neuroscientist at the University of California at Davis, and started with two retreats held in February and September 2007. A group of 60 experienced meditators (ranging in age from21 to 70 years old) enrolled in the three month study, half receiving intensive training and practice in Shamatha ('calm abiding') practice and engaging in five or more hours of individual practice every day; and completing a battery of behavioural and physiological tests at various stages of the study.

A recent article in the Huffington Post 'New Meditation Research: Putting the 'Om' in 'Chromosome' detailed some of the key insights now being reported from the Shamatha Project .. that the ancient practice of meditation delivers benefits that go 'all the way down to the chromosomal level'. With the Psychological Science journal recently reporting that meditators' increased visual acuity and freed up their cognitive awareness, sharpening their attention and improving their performance on task .. and that the improvement lasted for five months after the retreat. The online journal Psychoneuroendocrinology also recently reported that meditators showed improved psychological well-being, and that these improvements lead to biochemical changes associated with resistance to aging at the cellular level.

Positivity appears to be a key link between meditation practice and the promoted health benefits. Practice appears to give people an improved sense of purpose and meaning in live which in turn leads to an increased sense of control over life, and this reduces negative emotions.

This research into the effects of meditation practice on the brain is the most comprehensive study ever conducted. Initial results show that intensive contemplative training sharpens and sustains attention, enhances well-being, and leads to less judgmental, more empathic emotional responding to the suffering of others. The training has also been linked with pro-social emotional behavior and important physiological markers of health.

* Details from the Shambhala Mountain Center , the UC Davic Centre for Mind and Brain, and the article 'New Meditation Research : Putting the 'Om' in 'Chromosome' printed in the Huffington Post November 19, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I love to hear of studies that confirm what meditators have know for centuries. I feel that it helps bring meditation into the mainstream a bit more. Hopefully more people will be inspired to give it a go. :-)



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