The Neuroscience of Suffering–And Its End

“Do not pursue the past. Do not usher in the future. Rest evenly with present awareness” —Tibetan meditation instruction. It was 1972, and Gary Weber, a 29-year old materials science PhD student at Penn State University, had a problem with his brain. It kept generating thoughts! – continuously, oppressively – a stream of neurotic concerns about his life, his studies, whatever. While most human beings would consider this par for the course, par for the human condition (cogito ergo sum), Weber wouldn’t accept it. He was a scientist, a systematizer, a process guy. He liked to figure out how things worked, and how they could be tweaked to work more efficiently. And at that moment his brain wasn’t very efficient. It…

Thicker Brain Sections Tied to Spirituality

Thicker Brain Sections Tied to Spirituality For people at high risk of depression because of a family history, spirituality may offer some protection for the brain, a new study hints. Parts of the brain’s outer layer, the cortex, were thicker in high-risk study participants who said religion or spirituality was “important” to them versus those who cared less about religion. Read More . . .

Breathing In vs. Spacing Out

Breathing In vs. Spacing Out Two and a half millenniums ago, a prince named Siddhartha Gautama traveled to Bodh Gaya, India, and began to meditate beneath a tree. Forty-nine days of continuous meditation later, tradition tells us, he became the Buddha—the enlightened one. More recently, a psychologist named Amishi Jha traveled to Hawaii to train United States Marines to use the same technique for shorter sessions to achieve a much different purpose: mental resilience in a war zone. Read More . . .

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