Why A Neuroscientist Would Study Meditation

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Why A Neuroscientist Would Study Meditation

Postby Jesse » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:40 pm



In this TEDxTalk, Professor Willoughby Britton tells us that happiness is not about getting what you want. She discusses our mental qualities as habits we practice and she sheds light on an important link between neuroscience and contemplative (Meditation, Mindfulness) studies.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Why A Neuroscientist Would Study Meditation

Postby Mr. G » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:52 pm

I just watched it and found it interesting. One point though is when she mentions that self-criticism can be negative and leads to depression. I've always thought self-criticism to be a valuable trait to have in terms of recognizing the afflictive behavior that one engages in.

Also found this 8 part series by Dr. Willoughby Britton about Brown University's Contemplative Studies Initiative and BrittonLab, Willoughby's lab at Brown for contemplative neuroscience:

Contemplative Neuroscience at Brown University
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Why A Neuroscientist Would Study Meditation

Postby wisdom » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:21 am

I think she means criticism like "your not doing this good enough" not criticism as analysis such as "why don't I do this well? what are the causes behind it...?".
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Re: Why A Neuroscientist Would Study Meditation

Postby Noah » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:15 am

Here in Atlanta, Georgia, USA there is a very active group of professors at Emory University working in conjunction with the monks at Drepung Loseling Temple on the subject of meditation and the effects on the brain and emotional state of the practitioner. It is very interesting and gives me hope for an expansion of the Dharma by any means necessary! :D
They offer courses in meditation practice and from an academic standpoint, check it out! The monks are actually at the University now constructing a mandala of Tara and will be there giving talks and performances for another few weeks :)

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Re: Why A Neuroscientist Would Study Meditation

Postby Jesse » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:38 am

I'm happy you guys liked the video. :)

Since I have begun practicing Buddhism, and meditation, the reduction in my own depression and anxiety problems have been beyond drastic. I have since begun recommending meditation to many people and friends.

I think she means negative rumination, rather than self-criticism like wisdom mentioned, and I def. understand how meditation helps w/ that particular problem, in training your mind to move back to your focus when it strays, is rather similar to the problem people have in negative-rumination, and can be applied to refocus your mind on positivity, or compassion as it may be.

It really is amazing what meditation does for your mind.. and I really am surprised it hasn't yet become a mainstream staple of healthy living. (like diet, exercise)

That's really cool noah -- It'd be pretty awesome to get formal meditation training. I've been watching quite alot of video's on that subject, if you do a search on youtube for "meditation and neuroscience", you'll find a wealth of awesome-ness.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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