Much has been written in recent years about the emotional and physical benefits of meditation, especially the type known as mindfulness. Scientists studying monks and other practitioners have observed changes in the brain related to stress, focus and calm. But those studies involved people with long experience in mindfulness meditation and lacked control groups.
A recent cleverly constructed survey subjected 35 unemployed job-seekers to three days of intense “meditation” training, but only half of them learned real mindfulness. That half did show beneficial brain changes, while the other half did not. The authors of the study called it the “first evidence that mindfulness meditation training” causes functional brain improvements.
Is that why we meditate? To reduce stress and calm ourselves? That’s a great benefit, and if you want to stop there, I’m glad you found a tool to help reduce some of your suffering. But in Buddhism, meditation is part of something larger.
As we calm ourselves, we observe our thoughts and become aware of how they seem to own our mind, how they seem to delude us with a “me” focus. We grow in our understanding that we don’t need to let them do that, and we (our inner we, our real we) begin to take control. We do that not by struggling against our thoughts, but by accepting and cherishing them so that we can let them go.
The meditation is one part of awakening our Buddha nature and our compassion for all sentient beings. I came across this video today of Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, explaining the purpose of meditation.
— Mel Pine (Fearless Lotus)
Copyright 2016 © Mel Harkrader Pine
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Yes, meditation can be about so much more than stress reduction.Thank you for bringing this point up. Very important!
Here is something that I wrote several years ago about the practice of calm abiding meditation. https://peacepaul.wordpress.com/2009/02/14/calm-abiding-meditation/
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