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Meditation, a scientifically approved method for increased happiness

The second post last in the series on happiness discussed happiness as a tool to measure wealth instead of money (GDP), furthermore, presented a few ways to improve our own and the well-being of others through different methods, especially meditation. Many, particularly westerners, also professionals such as people working within the health sector have a hard time understanding the enormous potential of meditation techniques. However, now through scientific research and investigation, using various neurobiological methods such as brain scans Tibetan Buddhist tradition relegated to mindfulness techniques proven that their practice is capable of elevating a sufficient active reward module in the brain that measured favourably, regardless of the external environment.

Change in brain activity

The morphology or change in brain activity during meditation is elevating effects of mood measured associated with positive feelings. Besides, several other benefits were found, such as increased and better attention, reduced stress level and those who meditate regularly improve mental health because of the changes in brain activity. Exercise the brain should be mandatory in any school or workplace, at least equally important as exercising the body.

Buddhas enlightenment

Gautama felt as though a prison which had confined him for thousands of lifetimes had broken open. Ignorance had been the jail-keeper. Because of ignorance, his mind had been obscured, just like the moon and stars hidden by the storm clouds. Clouded by endless waves of deluded thoughts, the mind had falsely divided reality into subject and object, self and others, existence and nonexistence, birth and death, and from these discriminations arose wrong views—the prisons of feelings, craving, grasping, and becoming. The suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death only made the prison walls thicker. The only thing to do was to seize the jail-keeper and see his true face. The jail keeper was ignorance. Once the jail-keeper was gone, the jail would disappear and never rebuild again”. Thich Nhat Hanh on Buddha’s enlightenment

Bringing the mind home

The main aim of Buddhist Meditation is to purify the mind of all negative tendencies—such as greed, anger, and delusion, through mind control and secondly gain insight. There are only two forms of meditation, according to Buddha: Shamata and Vipassana. Shamata (in Tibetan shi-né, shi means peace or peaceful and né means rest or stay peaceful, mostly known as mindfulness). These two words give the idea of how to perform this particular form of meditation. First, practice is to calm the mind clear from the turmoil, that consistently agitates it. Secondly, with different techniques such as concentrating on breathing or an object rest in a peaceful mind. Shamata or mindfulness meditation is the most critical preparation, not a goal itself; however, the exceptional valuable step towards insight.

Graphics Kenneth Buddha Jeans click and open brain Meditation Infographics

What happens when we meditate?

What, in reality, happens when we meditate is a mental exercise to the brain, it is almost like working out in a gym when lifting weights or use machines, there are several things prepared, every muscle has its exercise needs performed carefully, and most often an instructor made a program to be followed. It is important not to lift heavy weights because one can easily get injured; however, if they are too light, the exercise will be pointless. The same things apply to meditation practice. Three key elements are applying when exercising the mind:

  1. Identify the module that requires training.
  2. Stimulate what trigger the module to activate.
  3. Bringing the mind into a state where it possible can absorb the mental work-out.

Bringing the mind to understanding

The second form of meditation is Vipassana (Sanskrit, means to understand deeply) or the meditation of profound vision. It is dealing with the first two-point above, identify and stimulate the module in the brain to perform. Vipassana is only possible when some stability achieved throughout Shamata meditation (point three). Vipassana makes it possible to access deeper inside the subtle mind, approaching wisdom by getting insight into the true nature of things.

Vipassana allows cutting the roots of emotional poisons, the disturbing emotions that hunt us down and understand who we are and how the emotions many times without knowing, for example, how angry or how to deal with fears. The first stage of this process is to recognise which mental poison that affects the most is it anger, hatred or attachment that is our most significant problem? If, in other words, possessiveness or attachment is the primary problem, we should meditate on the ugly, least attractive aspects of the attachment. Some dominated by anger or hatred meditate on loving-kindness and compassion.

Significant reduction in various mental problems

Pilot studies performed during the study of loving-kindness meditation and compassionate mind training could lead to significant reductions in depression, anxiety, self-criticism, and shame (Gilbert and Procter, 2006). Even a few minutes of

loving-kindness meditation could increase feelings of social connection and positivity toward novel individuals.

Activation of the desired submodule

The second point concerns “how best” to activate the desired submodule, as mentioned earlier in the post on Vipassana critical issue is finding the mental poisons that worry us the most and meditate on an antidote. In case of more disturbing situations like depression and anxiety, the safes just trying to turn off mode, as in shamata meditation practice. Meditation on the antidote or on pacifying negative emotions performed in several ways, Buddha taught 84.000 ways. In the little, nevertheless, a great book on meditation by Sogyal Rinpoche (published 1992). The three suitable meditation techniques that are particularly effective in the modern world, and which anyone can use and benefit. It is “watching the breath, using an object, and reciting a mantra”.

  • Breathe

    • Breathe in life, the basic and the most fundamental expression of life. Focus the attention on resting mindfully and light on the breath, this method is found in all schools of Buddhism since ancient times. The first method is ancient and found in all schools of Buddhism. It is to rest attention, lightly and mindfully, on the breath. Breath is life, the basic and the most fundamental expression of our life. The breath or Prana as in Sanskrit is said to be “the vehicle of the mind”.
  • Object

    • Another method preferable and in which many people find comfortable is resting the mind on an object. The object can be of natural beauty that inspires or invokes a particular feeling such as flowers or something that embodies the truth an image or small statue of Buddha, Christ or even better a master.
  • Mantra

    • The third and last method of taming the mind is prevalent in Buddhism (Sufism, Orthodox Christianity, and Hinduism), is uniting the mind with the sound of a mantra. A mantra means “that which protects the mind from negativity”. The mantra is mostly a sentence, or a few words repeated almost melodic. A mantra often recommended to students belongs to one of the most significant bodhisattvas in Buddhism history Avalokitesvara; OM MANI PADME HUM

Our biggest enemy that denies us happiness

The ego is a master of illusions, and everything that threatens its integrity becomes an enemy, a source of disgust. The ego does not exist as our mind is fundamentally infinite and not limited by the constraints of individual existence.

The five conceptual emotions produced by the ego

  • Pride
  • Attachment
  • Dullness
  • Jealousy

However, identify ourselves with the illusionary master, and became the model of all relationships, It dictates and guards possible rivals in jealousy. Moreover, become prisoners of mental dullness, attached to objects that confirm its existents. The clinching provoke the ego that wants to be better to others. We call it pride, and it is the last of five negative conceptual emotions produced by ego-clinging, the others are attachment, aversion, mental dullness, and jealousy. These five are always creating worries, trouble, difficulties for ourselves and others to form irrevocable obstacles to inner peace. The Ego cannot defeat by material objects or weapons, the invisible enemy, and its entourage. However, defeated by meditation and following a spiritual path, one leading to increased happiness and wellness.

Spiritual Wellness

The last post discussed social, environmental and economic wellness. Add spiritual wellness to the list, and it provides a unifying power that keeps the ego from being dominant and integrates beneficial all other dimensions of wellness. The essential characteristics of spiritual people involve a sense of direction and meaning in life and include relationship to something larger than oneself. Several studies have reported positive relationships among spiritual well-being, emotional well-being, and satisfaction with life. People who attend a religious place and regularly participate in religious organisations enjoy better health, have a lower incidence of chronic diseases, handle stress more effectively, and live longer. A spiritual path includes not only meditations practice. It can include friendship, closeness to others, joy, inner peace, prayers, and being in a positive environment.

Eight dimensions of wellness graphics Kenneth buddha Jeans

The numerous benefits of meditation

Meditation holds a surprising number of health benefits, including improved attention, better memory stress reduction, and further creativity just by doing simple exercises according to a scientist. The evidence comes from many different studies about how the brain functions are working. For many years, Neuroscientists thought that the brain stopped developing after a certain age; however, newer research shows that this is not right.

Neuroscientist and research on meditation

Recently, neuroscientists have been able to peer directly into the brain to see what is going on. The use of MRIs and other scanning techniques have widely documented that stimulation such as mindfulness cause changes (even permanent) to the physical structure of their brains. Meditation lowers electrical motions, and the blood flow in the part of the brain called the amygdala.  Which is connected with our primal, intense emotions such as anxiety, fear while the increase massively in other brain regions known as the centre for the analytical? These effects, nevertheless, has been a part of Buddhist knowledge and wisdom for thousands of years and comes hardly as a surprise. Nevertheless, westerners to prove.

Do not meditate if

When it comes to meditation, not recommend any new practitioners that have issues with depression or other related problems such as panic angst or anxiety to start exploring meditation single-handed. Not without guidance from a professional teacher, doctor or skilled staff because meditation can sometimes cause overwhelming emotions and unpleasant thoughts, something well-known to Buddhist and often referred to as “purifications”.  Side-effects occur for many reasons, not that strange when thinking about it. Take, for example, a person that never let his stream of thoughts calm, for thirty years suddenly loses his sense for a few seconds. It might cause a feeling of disappearing, and others might be charged with emotions unexpectedly coming up, traumas, memories, and wounds. The difficult insight handle without having someone telling what is happening. Such insight is, of course, great for personal development; however, facing inner-demons can be hard and unpleasant. Meditation was supposed to calm after all.

Sources and Useful Information

  • The biology of happiness by Bjørn Grinde. Published by Springer Briefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research 2012
  • The essence of Buddhism, an introduction to its philosophy and practice by Traleg Kyabgon. Published Shambhala 2001
  • Meditation by Sogyal Rinpoche. Edited by Patrick Gaffney and Andrew Harvey. Published by Harper
  • Encyclopedia of Buddhism edited by Robert E. Buswell, Jr. Published 2004 by the Gale Group, Inc.
  • Happiness a guide to developing life’s most important skill by Matthieu Ricard. Published 2003 by Little Brown and Company.
  • Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness by Emmy van Deurzen. Published 2009 by Sage Publications Ltd
  • Mindfulness integrated CBT. Principles and practice Bruno a. Cayoun, DPsych. Published 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
  • Happiness comes when we manage to escape our desire
  • Happiness comes from harmony, not money or fame
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