I recently saw the Dalai Lama which, for me, was an inspiring experience on many levels. However, what strikes me about this visit (the Dalai Lama has been here 9 times) is what I am reading and hearing about the visit. Yes, this is about Buddhism - he is the spiritual leader of his people after all. But, it is a lot about science.
I read in Dr. Richard Davidson's book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain, that the Dalai Lama once asked Dr. Davidson why there are so few scientists studying the positives of how the brain works. In an article in Madison Magazine, Dr. Davidson says that the Dalai Lama has made it his mission to get involved with scientists. He knows first hand that his meditation practices and his regular spiritual studies make him a happier, more compassionate man. He knows from seeing his peers in the practice as well. He wants science to show the rest of us, so we will join in on this healthy habit.
I have covered much of the benefits to meditation in previous blogs and yet, it seems people aren't really seeing it, believing it, or finding it accessible to them. Is it some foreign practice that only monks or spiritual types get into? There are literally hundreds of meditation practices and they can follow any or no religious teaching you prefer. All it takes is sitting and learning to focus, then quiet the mind for a period of time. You choose your focus.
One purpose of Dr. Davidson's work is to show that it is not the case that only dedicated hour long practitioners benefit from meditation. A recent study he did involved folks that have never before meditated. He looked at their brains before the study practice and after 2 weeks began to see changes. This is after just 2 weeks of daily 30 minute meditation! We now KNOW without a doubt that meditation changes your brain.
What else? A not yet published study will show that meditation changes the expression of your genes! This is going to revolutionize our medical futures. The days of Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy might be over. If we can find out how exactly to change gene expression through meditation in those whose genes show a proclivity toward breast cancer or colon cancer or others....., then the need for such painful, invasive preventative measures becomes completely unnecessary.
If the effects of meditation range from changing the brain to the depths of changing our genes, why not start now? In June, start my meditation challenge and get in your daily dose of good mental, physical, and spiritual health!