Tag Archives: brain

Gray Matters: Brain Science in the 21st Century

Fascinating and enlightening panel discussion on the human brain. All nice and clean, though, in my mind, where it gets tricky (and for that matter, sticky)  is when some of the honorable scientists start to flirt with various forms of spirituality –  transcendental meditation, Zen, mindfulness training or even the old-fashioned Catholic prayer being the paramount examples. (See the segment from min 47. to approx. 50) Meditation and other so-called spiritual exercises are not a Wunderwaffe.  In fact, they are terribly overrated. In terms of the “beneficial effects on the brain”, I believe there are no substantial difference between meditating on a Zen koan, watching a horror movie or reading Plato’s dialogues. In all of these cases, one’s attention is being directed to a particular image, thought or activity. Thus the universal aspect, which they all share is – enter the magic word –  attention. Now, we have a choice to make here, either you read a book and actually learn something new or watch a stupid movie and have a good laugh or sit silently for 20 minutes focusing on the inhalation of air in your bodily system. Now, why would you want to meditate? You may say: “But I want to find my inner bliss, I long for happiness, –  (or to put it more pompously) – I seek enlightenment. And to attain these lofty goals of mine, every now and then, I meditate for 20 plus minutes.” You could argue even further and state what the brain-scientists have discovered over the past decades, which would presumably give the scientific validity card in your hand to play. Continue reading

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October 11, 2012 · 12:42 pm