— If you want to change others, change yourself. —
What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? This video from Google Personal Growth Series features Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., discussing these questions in an hour-long talk. Dr. Siegel is an associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine, a well- known researcher in this field, and the author of several very good books on this subject- The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience
(1999), Parenting From the Inside Out
(co-author)(2003), and The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being
(2007). He also discusses Mindsight, a learnable skill to increase increase perception and strengthen the mind- i.e., increase empathy and/or reduce ADD. I have read his books and attended several of his presentations and have always found him to be clear and engaging. Although an hour in length, this talk is accessible and informative and worth the time to watch.
The following is from the folks at Wild Divine, the makers of the stress-reducing computer game advertised on the lower right of this page. This refers to only one form of meditation- a basic and readily accessible one for most people.
Being able to stay focused when you meditate is one of the main challenges that you face when you first engage in meditation. In meditation, you focus on your breathing or an object and try to clear your mind. Thoughts will start to come to mind, which you should acknowledge and then let them pass on.
Sometimes, if you are feeling stressed about some situation, thoughts of this may overpower you and you feel as if you should dwell on these to try to find a solution. Forcing the issue is not the way of meditating and will keep you from the true purpose.
When you first start your meditating session, you need to have a place where you will be free from distractions. This includes noise and images. You can block out the images by closing your eyes, but the daily sounds are often more difficult to block out. This is why most people choose the early morning hours to practice spiritual meditation. The rest of the household is asleep so you have some time to yourself when you won’t be interrupted.
Learning the various positions and being able to hold them for a length of time is a challenge for beginners. While most people have the idea that you have to be in a sitting position to meditate, you can meditate when you are walking, lying down, kneeling or standing. The sitting positions are the hardest to master, even when you sit on a chair because it is hard to maintain the same position for up to 30 minutes at a time.
The half lotus position is the one most prefer to use when meditating in a sitting position. To do this, you sit cross legged with the foot of one leg resting on the thigh of the other leg. The other foot is resting on the floor under the opposite thigh. The most difficult sitting position is the full lotus in which you have both feet resting on the thighs of the opposite legs and your knees touching the floor.
When you start to meditate, you also have to give yourself a few minutes at the beginning for your mind and body to relax. It takes a few minutes for this to happen and for your breathing to become regular. You have to let the tenseness out of the muscles in your back and neck and learn to breathe deeply. This means breathing in through your nose so that you take in the maximum amount of oxygen which can then get to the deepest portions of your lungs. Hold the breath for a second and let it out slowly.
There are no rules for meditating. The main goal is for you to see results from the session – whether this is simply a way of relaxing, finding a solution to your problems or finding a way of reaching a state of inner peace and calm. During the session, you do not allow your thoughts to consume you and through this you can learn to see and understand them in a different way.
The object is to meditate so that you become more effective in the way you handle the stresses of life so that you don’t act impulsively and become angry over every little thing. Once you grasp this concept, you will be able to have a happier life.
Any thoughts or responses? What other experiences with meditation have you had? What is the role of imagination in meditation?
The power of the mind to affect the body may be nowhere better illustrated than in the practice of Tummo, a Tibetan advanced meditation technique in which great heat is produced through specific postures, breathing methods, and visualizations (imagination). Stories have circulated about the ability of Tibetan monks to dry wet sheets on their bare skin in the below freezing temperatures of the mountains of Tibet and Nepal.
In this article from the archives of the Harvard University Gazette from April 18, 2002, Gazette staff writer William J. Cromie writes about the experiments run by the renowned Harvard professor and mind/body researcher Herbert Benson (best known for his work on The Relaxation Response). Here, modern medical measuring tools are used as Tibetan monks are practicing the meditation. I have had just a bit of instruction in the use of Tummo and can testify with first-hand experience as to its ability to raise heat significantly in the body.
Through the study of this kind meditation, western science is beginning to understand how effective the use of the mind can be to effect the body. Through the combination of scientific study and centuries-old meditation techniques, the potential is there to find better treatments for some illnesses and, maybe, better life-styles to prevent the need for those treatments.
Find out more about Tummo here, and here. What do you think about this?