Buddhist Meditation

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Here is a small piece from a very good article on Mindfulness and Stress by Mark Flanagan, posted at the Neuroanthropology site. Be sure tro check out the rest of the article.

Biomedical literature has suggested that stress-oriented perception and weak social networks are a large component of psychosocial stress. According to neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky, individuals are more likely to produce a stress response and are at more risk for stress-sensitive disease if they:

1. Feel that they have little control over stressors or are chronically disempowered.

2. Feel that they do not have predictive information about how long or intense the stressor will be.

3. Do not have many outlets to vent frustration caused by stressors.

4. Interpret the stressor as a sign of worsening circumstances.

5. Do not have adequate social support for the confinement caused by stressors.

While strong social networks and support systems are important for reducing the harmful effects of long-term stress, the other four predictive factors for stress sensitive disease involve a perception of harm, suggesting that how an individual perceives and interprets their reality is central to understanding psychosocial stress.


Studies on neurocognitive processes indicate that mindfulness meditation increases awareness and the creation of alternatives to mindless, automatic behavior - reducing the stress response by guiding conscious thought away from uncontrollable past or future scenarios and towards a non-attached acceptance of present circumstances, rather than battling unwanted thoughts.

Ellen Langer has beautifully demonstrated the power of controlled perception in manifesting drastically improved physical health of elderly individuals who were encouraged to reminisce mindfully about or relive their 20's and 30's in a retreat setting with various activities and visualization exercises. Participants were guided on how direct their thinking so that they were able to experience the reality that they desired, rather than responding to every thought that happened to cross their mind. Both groups were significantly stronger and had a greater range of motion than before the week long mindfulness experiment.

In addition, a recent study conducted by H"olzel et al. (2011), documented increases in grey matter after eight weeks of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in a group of 16 meditation-na"ive participants. Grey matter increased in the hippocampus, posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum. According to the study, these areas are associated with learning, memory processing, and emotional regulation - which includes the ability for self-referral and perspective taking. This ability to take perspective and break the stream of unconscious, preconditioned responses is a process by which psychosocial stress could be mitigated.

Tags: Neuroanthropology, Mindfulness and Stress, Psychology, mindfulness, stress, Health, meditation, Mark Flanagan

Suggested ebooks:

Aleister Crowley - Book 4 Part I Meditation
Alan Wallace - Lucid Dreaming And Meditation

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