Buddha & The Neuroscientist

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Buddha & The Neuroscientist


A n increasing number of scientific researcher are referencing and drawing on Buddhism in their studies, especially in the neuroscience field. The dialogue between neuroscience and Buddhism dates to the 1980’s, catalyzed by his holiness the Dali Lama and the Mind and Life Institute, co-founded by the late neuroscientist and Buddhist, Francisco Varela. Recent research reveals evidence that the Buddhist concept “change is the only constant in the universe” has new scientific backing further more proving there is no such thing as a stable self. Our brain is malleable and has the potential to change, this concept is referred to as neuroplasticity. The concept is very exciting and liberating, because we are not defined by our thoughts or ideas of who we are. Trends in cognitive science link the Buddhist belief that our self is ever changing to the physical parts of the brain. Self-processing in the brain is not instantiated in a particular region or network rather it extends to a broad range of fluctuating neural processes that don’t appear to be self-specific. Evan Thomson, a researcher from the University of British Columbia whose work includes studies of cognitive science, phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy said this is not the only area where neuroscience and Buddhism are converging. For example some neuroscientist now believe the cognitive facilities are not fixed but can be trained through meditation. There may also even be scientific backing to the Buddhist belief that consciousness extends into deep sleep. Buddhist Monks have long said that the universe and ourselves are constantly changing. Through meditation and training our mind we can elevate our awareness and control. Leading neuroscientist and Buddhists agree “Consciousness is everywhere”. New theories in neuroscience suggest consciousness is an intrinsic property of everything, just like gravity. Neuroscience has long been baffled by consciousness, they can’t explain why it exists or how it came to be. Buddhists define consciousness into three different areas:

• Consciousness that is conditioned by mental fabrications

• Consciousness and the mind-body are interdependent

• Consciousness acts as a “life force” by which there is a continuity across rebirths

Modern research dialogues between Buddhists and scientist have barely begun to develop an understanding of mind – or consciousness – itself. As science and Eastern thought continue to hang out with each other there may be even more 21st century studies to back up 2,600 year old thoughts!

To raise your consciousness gives you power to create a happier and fulfilling life. Heightened consciousness breaks the walls of perception, perceived reality, and false beliefs. Below are a few spiritual exercises that can help you expand your consciousness quickly!

1. Appreciation

Make a daily habit of sitting for even 10 minutes to write a list of all the things you appreciate, in a month’s time you will expand your vibrational frequency and deepen your spiritual understanding of the preciousness of this life.

2. Meditate

Take 15-25 minutes every day to bring your mind into at least the alpha, if not the theta state. When you do this you build your capacity to handle stress. Where stress once consumed time and energy, you now have room for spirit to dwell.

3. ‘Yoke’ the Body

The word ‘yoga’ literally means to ‘yoke’ together the body and the spirit. You don’t have to become a dedicated yogi but take time to at least sit still and totally focus in on using your breath to initiate and complete a movement – even a small one such as raising and lowering your arms. By doing this exercise you are creating a synchronicity between your mind and spirit.


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