REPORTS OF CHANGE ARE DRAMATIC—
Although many people who meditate are not religious,
mindfulness stems from a Buddhist view of the individual.
Venerable Jue Ji, Director of the Institute of Chinese
Buddhist Studies, University of the West Honorary Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism, Chinese University, Hong Kong explains.“‘Self’ is
an illusion. The Buddha teaches the idea of no-self; anatta.
Every living being is interconnected
with every other living being and we, all
living beings, are integrated as a whole”.
This experience of interconnectedness
has had an intense effect on individuals
who are accustomed to independent
power, and such positive outcomes for
health and well-being, neuropsycholo-gists and neurophysiologists are looking
at the biological bases for such changes.
One study at Massachusetts General Hospital in the U.S.
showed changes in brain regions associated with memory,
sense of self, empathy and stress among participants in an
eight-week mindfulness meditation program.
Several studies find that among meditation practitioners,
emotional processing in the brain—known by measuring
amygdala response to emotional stimuli—endures even
when the individual is not meditating. Buddhist Deity
Meditation temporarily augments visuospatial abilities
and selflessness that arises from the experience of mindfulness and meditation is related to decreased activity in the
right parietal lobe of the brain.
A recent study from the University of California-Los
Angeles in the U.S. reported that one form of chanting
yogic meditation twelve minutes a day for eight weeks
“…led to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system’s inflammation
response”. Persistent inflammation is believed to shorten
telomeres which can lead to serious and life-threatening
“There is nothing permanent”, Jue Ji says.“All things perceived by the senses are not mine. We may think we are in
charge; that we can control situations; but materially and
mentally we are always changing. We cannot hold on to
anything. So it is good to be mindful; to live here and now”.
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Helen Kelly is a Contributing Editor at ALN World. She
divides her time between Boston MA and London UK.
Contact Helen at HelenKellyLtd@aol.com.