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 Scientific American - COVER this month - The Neuroscience of Meditation

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PostSubject: Scientific American - COVER this month - The Neuroscience of Meditation   Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:58 pm

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Neuroscience Reveals the Secrets of Meditation’s Benefits

Contemplative practices that extend back thousands of years show a multitude of benefits for both body and mind
By Matthieu Ricard, Antoine Lutz and Richard J. Davidson

When the Society for Neuroscience asked Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (the leader of Tibetan Buddhism), to address its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in 2005, a few hundred members among the nearly 35,000 or so attending the meeting petitioned to have the invitation rescinded. A religious leader, they felt, had no place at a scientific meeting. But this particular leader turned out to have a provocative and ultimately productive question to pose to the gathering. “What relation,” he asked, “could there be between Buddhism, an ancient Indian philosophical and spiritual tradition, and modern science?”


The Dalai Lama, putting action before rhetoric, had already started trying to find answers to his own question. Back in the 1980s, he had sparked a dialogue about science and Buddhism, which led to the creation of the Mind & Life Institute, dedicated to studying contemplative science. In 2000 he brought new focus to this endeavor: he launched the subdiscipline of “contemplative neuroscience” by inviting scientists to study the brain activity of expert Buddhist meditators—defined as having more than 10,000 hours of practice.
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