Scientists say they have evidence to show that
Buddhists really are happier and calmer than other people.
Tests carried out in the United States
reveal that areas of their brain
associated with good mood
and positive feelings are more active.
The findings come as another study suggests that Buddhist
meditation can help to calm people.
Researchers at University of California San Francisco Medical
Centre have found the practise can tame the amygdala, an
area of the brain which is the hub of fear memory.
They found that experienced Buddhists,
who meditate regularly, were less likely to be shocked,
flustered, surprised or as angry compared to other people.
Paul Ekman, who carried out the study, said:
"The most reasonable hypothesis is that there is something about
conscientious Buddhist practice that results in the kind of happiness we all seek."Brain activity
In a separate study, scientists at the University of
Wisconsin at Madison used new scanning techniques to
examine brain activity in a group of Buddhists.
Their tests revealed activity in the left
prefrontal lobes of experienced Buddhist practitioners.
This area is linked to positive emotions,
self-control and temperament.
Their tests showed this area of the Buddhists' brains
are constantly lit up and not just when they are meditating.
This, the scientists said, suggests they are more
likely to experience positive emotions and be in good mood.
"We can now hypothesise with some confidence that
those apparently happy, calm Buddhist souls one regularly
comes across in places such as Dharamsala, India, really are happy,"
said Professor Owen Flanagan, of Duke University in North Carolina.
Dharamsala is the home base of exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.
The studies are published in New Scientist magazine. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3047291.stm