photo by ellen reitman.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

the laboratory we carry with us.

last summer in victoria, i nearly made a horrible mistake. my buddy and i were walking along the beach when i had an urgent need to pee, so i slid over to a pretty secluded spot to relieve myself. i had just whipped out my (extremely large) male appendage when i noticed my friend wildly pointing to a fellow in deep meditation sitting right beside me, like right beside me. it wasn't entirely my fault. he was wearing khaki-colored clothing and blended in nicely with all the drift-wood. of course i slithered away, no harm done, but the point is: the fellow never budged an inch, never even opened his eyes. it was remarkable, another clear indication that meditation works.

a study published during 2012 in the journal: 'circulation-cardiovascular quality and outcomes,' tested 201 people with coronary heart disease. they were asked to take a class either about diet and exercise or meditation. after following up over the next five years, it was discovered that the meditators had a 48% reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death. the diet and exercise people had all died. ok, that's not true. i just wanted to make meditation sound better.

in another study, forty-five people were divided into three groups. one was given eight-weeks of mindfulness meditation training, another was given eight weeks of body relaxation training and the last group was not given any training. all three groups were given a stressful multi-tasking test before and again after the eight weeks. the results, published in the 'proceedings of graphics interface' in may of 2012, showed that the mindful meditation group reported less stress in performing their test than the other two groups.

mri scans were taken of one-hundred people, half of them meditators. the researchers of this study, which was published in 'frontiers in human neuroscience', in may of 2012, showed the meditators clearly had higher levels of gyrification, (a folding of the cerebral cortex associated with faster information processing.) they also showed that the longer a person meditated the greater levels of gyrification.

clearly, 2012 was a good year and i do appreciate those affirmations for being rather more highbrow than mine. having said that, i must add that i personally do not appreciate the idea of part of my brain folding, and i've never heard of any of the publications. but, there will be many more studies and experiments performed on meditators through the years. i'm sure of it. scientists, psychologists and doctors will become increasingly convinced of its efficacy. nevertheless, no laboratory will ever take the place of the one we carry with us.

there is an old story about a young man and an older man talking on a boat while crossing a large lake. the young man asks: "have you studied zoology, old man?"
"nope," says the old man.
"have you studied psychology?"
"what about philosophy?"
"well, old man, it seems to me you've wasted three-quarters of your life."
at that precise moment, there was an explosion in the engine room and the boat began to capsize, throwing everyone into the water still far from shore. as they thrashed around, the old man called over to the fellow: "have you studied swimology, young man?" the young man cried out in a panicked voice that he did not know how to swim and the old man said: "well, it seems to me you've wasted the whole of your life. because we need to swim for it now!"

intellectual knowledge, as wonderful as it may be, will never replace experiential knowledge, first-hand knowledge. it behooves each of us to spend time in the laboratory which is our body, our temple, our world. it behooves each of us to learn how best to swim safely across the ocean of this wondrous life.

No comments :

Post a Comment