Meditation and A Bird Crossing the Sky

Today we have such a plethora of choices in non-western medicine it seems overwhelming: Theta, Reiki Spiritual Healing, Distance Reiki Healing, Chaka balancing, Crystal Healing, Aura Cleaning, Ascended Clairvoyance and Tarot, Wellbeing through Moon Tuning Astrology, Psychic Readings, Pineal/3rd Eye Activation, Quantum Bioenergetics Emotional Freedom Techniques, Quantum Touch Healing, Spectra Healing –  have I missed any?

No less exhausting is the choice of meditation practices: Open Monitoring Meditation, Effortless Presence & Focussed Attention Meditation. From Buddhism there is Metti, Sati, Vipassana & Zazen Mediation. Of Hindu there is Self Enquiry or Alma Vichara Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, Om Meditation & Yoga Meditation. Of Chinese there Qigong and Taoist Meditation. There is Christian Meditation, Binaural Beats Meditation and Guided Meditation.

In case you’ve forgotten Yoga, some groups to choose in your spare time are Anusara, Ashtana, Bikran, Hatha, Lyengar, Jivamukti, Kripalu, Kindalini, Restorative, Sivanand, Vini Yoga, Vinyasa/Power and Yin Yoga. Oh, and don’t forget Laughter Yoga..

To what extent do these practices include meditation? And although we acknowledge the profound healing properties of meditation a simple definition may prove to be more allusive than imagined. An exercise in the philosophically allusive could be as follows: Mindfulness is associated with meditation perhaps by way of explanation but how can this be when the very act of meditating is to free oneself of the mind or to enter a thoughtless state? Surely an awareness of thoughtlessness is to be mindful.. Oh dear, I don’t think I am any closer.

Fortunately there is a better definition and one that gives us greater understanding. Kim Zetta in her essay entitled ‘Keep taking The Meditation’ defines it as ‘a method of mental training that involves focussed attention for the purpose of spiritual development or self actualisation’

Is it possible to fathom the fascinating and equally allusive process of meditation by way of science? Doctor Richard Davidson’s research at The University of Wisconsin surely demonstrates this. What follows is testament not only to the interconnectedness of science & mind but also evidence to the lasting health benefits of meditation.

A Buddhist monk called Öser underwent Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or fMRI) testing in order to discover the mysterious workings of the mind during meditation. As a trained Molecular Biologist (Institut Pasteur in Paris), Öser patiently alternated between meditation and rest while his brain’s activity was recorded.

And in the process Doctor Richard Davidson and his team of scientists at the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience discovered a phenomena whereby the practice of meditation can effectively ‘rewire’ the human brain for health and happiness. They measured activity in Öser’s left prefrontal cortex, the part most associated with feelings of happiness & joy and observed cerebral activity to be off the chart even when at rest between his focussed meditation.

According to Davidson, extensive research suggests that meditating strengthens parts of the brain that reduce fear and anger so bringing about happiness & general well being. It seems to have a cumulative effect over time reducing the depth of negative emotions. Meditation appears to generate an individual’s overall positive state so becoming their emotional default, as it were.

Part of Öser’s test included the unexpected firing of a gun and although a slight increase in heart rate and blood pressure were recorded during meditation he seemed hardly to react. Other subjects taking the test could not suppress their reaction to this unexpected shocking disturbance. In Öser’s words it seemed as uneventful as ‘a bird crossing the sky’.

Taoist meditation in "The Secret of the Golden Flower"
Taoist meditation in “The Secret of the Golden Flower”

InnerSelf Sept-Nov 2015

Types of Meditation- An Overview of 23 Meditation Techniques

Keep Taking the Meditation

Richard Davidson

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10 thoughts on “Meditation and A Bird Crossing the Sky”

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