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Thread: Zen practioners are Thick!!!

  1. #1

    Zen practioners are Thick!!!

    Came across this on another site, thought some here might be interested!!

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0224103357.htm

    I'm happy to be called thick!!

    Gassho

    David

  2. #2
    Hi David,

    I used to be a big fan of all these studies of the brain and meditation using fMRI imaging and such. However, of late, I have also heard some serious questions about the methodology on many of these experiments, including questions about how they are interpreting data, the control groups used, the mishmash of various meditation techniques all thrown under the label of "meditation", the mix of beginners and experienced folks who are being tested, etc.

    In June, 2007 the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) published an independent, peer-reviewed, meta-analysis of the state of meditation research, conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center. The report reviewed 813 studies involving five broad categories of meditation: mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, T'ai chi, and Qigong, and included all studies on adults through September 2005, with a particular focus on research pertaining to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and substance abuse.

    The report concluded, "Scientific research on meditation practices does not appear to have a common theoretical perspective and is characterized by poor methodological quality. Firm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence. Future research on meditation practices must be more rigorous in the design and execution of studies and in the analysis and reporting of results." (p. 6) It noted that there is no theoretical explanation of health effects from meditation common to all meditation techniques.[54]
    A version of this report subsequently published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine stated that "Most clinical trials on meditation practices are generally characterized by poor methodological quality with significant threats to validity in every major quality domain assessed". This was the conclusion despite a statistically significant increase in quality of all reviewed meditation research, in general, over time between 1956–2005. Of the 400 clinical studies, 10% were found to be good quality. A call was made for rigorous study of meditation.[15] These authors also noted that this finding is not unique to the area of meditation research and that the quality of reporting is a frequent problem in other areas of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research and related therapy research domains.

    Of more than 3,000 scientific studies that were found in a comprehensive search of 17 relevant databases, only about 4% had randomised controlled trials (RCTs), which are designed to exclude the placebo effect.[13] Reviews of these RCTs consistently find that meditation without a focus on developing "mental silence", an aspect often excluded from techniques used in Western society, does not give better results than simply relaxing, listening to music or taking a short nap. While those who practiced mental silence showed clinically and statistically significant improvements in work related stress, depressed feelings, asthma-control, and quality of life as compared to commonly used stress management programs.[35]
    http://archive.ahrq.gov/downloads/pu...tion/medit.pdf

    I often say that Zazen is very very good, but it will not fix a broken tooth. You need a dentist for that. It may make one profoundly content and truly at home and whole in one's life, but not so constantly "happy happy happy" that one feels non-stop ecstasy as if one just won the Powerball Lottery while breathing laughing gas 24 hours a day! So, one must be cautious about reading too much into the power of Zazen.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-06-2013 at 08:56 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    The key word often used by researchers/ teachers of mindfullness meditation seems to be 'adapted' - adapted from buddhist techniques of meditation.I have every respect for mindfullness training and how it can help people, but there's a bit of me that wants to say 'this really isn't anything much to do with Zen or buddhism in general'.

    Zen feels to be a total way of life - not just centred on self - and the need to be stress free and relaxed - but 'other' centred, as a primary goal. There is also the fact that Zen is a spiritual practice. However - I'm sure a lot of people find their way to buddhism through mindfullness meditation,

    (Here in the UK mindfullness meditation is now being proffered as the 'answer' to just about every medical condition and I do find that a bit concerning, as it is as much to do with politics and saving money as the true welfare of patients.)

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 06-06-2013 at 09:25 AM.

  4. #4
    I'm with you both. I said 'interesting' and meant just that. I have a healthy scepticism to all these 'scientiific comparisons. Zazen is what it is, if zazen helps with this & that then that's fine if it doesn't then that's fine also.

    Gassho

    david

  5. #5

    Zen practioners are Thick!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    I'm sure a lot of people find their way to buddhism through mindfullness meditation
    I did. :-)

    Gassho, John


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Did you hear where the 84 yr old lady who won the $600M Powerball was given a go ahead to advance in the wait line to buy her one-line easy pick winning ticket. I wonder if she sat zazen that morning?
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  7. #7
    I think these studies that point to potential benefits of meditation are no bad thing as it seems very helpful in the sphere of medicine and mental health and may encourage others to take up sitting as a spiritual practice. None of these mindfulness techniques suggest their use instead of medication but there is evidence that doing so can indeed reduce the intake of painkillers which is great. I had not heard of methodological problems but, as with all scientific studies, it is something that needs to be watched for.

    Of course there is always the danger that people coming to Zen and other Buddhist paths from mindfulness will have certain utilitarian expectations of practice but who doesn't start sitting in the belief that it will cure most, if not all, ills? A couple of years of sitting tends to cure that! ;-)


    Gassho
    Andy

  8. #8


    Zen and meditation is not the best thing since sliced Zen bread?
    http://news.sfzc.org/content/view/454/52/

    . . . maybe I am just thick in every sense of the word . . .

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    I think these studies that point to potential benefits of meditation are no bad thing as it seems very helpful in the sphere of medicine and mental health and may encourage others to take up sitting as a spiritual practice. None of these mindfulness techniques suggest their use instead of medication but there is evidence that doing so can indeed reduce the intake of painkillers which is great. I had not heard of methodological problems but, as with all scientific studies, it is something that needs to be watched for.

    Of course there is always the danger that people coming to Zen and other Buddhist paths from mindfulness will have certain utilitarian expectations of practice but who doesn't start sitting in the belief that it will cure most, if not all, ills? A couple of years of sitting tends to cure that! ;-)


    Gassho
    Andy
    Hey Andy,

    I know that Shikantaza can work as a pain reliever, having "Zazen'd" my way through quite a few minor medical and dental procedures, and a couple of injuries that were quite painful like a broken bone. One can find a center, and step away or through much of the pain.

    However, I still take the novacaine and such as soon as it is offered.

    There may be some minor health benefits of Zazen, but I often say that Zazen will not cure your cancer. You have to seek a doctor and chemotherapy to try to do that.

    So what good is Zazen?

    Well, strange as it sounds, Zazen will allow one to be wholly "okay" and "at home" with one's cancer (or bad tooth or broken arm). It will allow one to "go with the flow" of the chemotherapy, even the pain.

    That is so even while it is not "okay" and not fun, and quite scary. One will accept even as one does not accept!

    Shikantaza allows one to experience life in such way ... okay even while not okay.

    I often tell the story of a friend of mine who did have cancer and received treatment for it. She said that the years of Zazen Practice allowed her to accept and "be one" with it all ... even as she was puting up the good fight for a cure, and went through quite a rough time, was sometimes scared or depressed. Zen Practice even allowed her to be "okay" with the quite natural stages of being scared and depressed ... not afraid of being afraid!

    Fighting the good fight to stay alive ... and beyond "life and death" at once. Afraid ... and beyond all fear at once.

    That is what Zazen can do.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-06-2013 at 03:17 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    "The often painful posture associated with Zen meditation may lead to thicker cortex and lower pain sensitivity"

    Maybe I'm doing it wrong. My posture is not painful. When I cut myself it still hurts! :-)

    Thanks for sharing. Interesting read.

    Gassho,
    Matt

  11. #11
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattW View Post
    "The often painful posture associated with Zen meditation may lead to thicker cortex and lower pain sensitivity"
    Thicker cortex? The "thickening" actually seems to be occurring at the other end of the spine. Or, perhaps the nerves in my butt are just growing numb.

    Gassho,
    William

  12. #12
    Even if our posture was meant to be painful I would think that that would only lead to lower pain sensitivity and strength where the posture is painful. Sort of like conditioning does in some martial arts. Or it would just cause injury. The article didn't say how the person was sitting, full lotus, half, Burmese, etc,.

    If sitting makes me more pain tolerant, fantastic! If it doesn't, fantastic!


    Either way, whatever way, I'll sit.

    Thanks for sharing

    Gassho,
    Joe

  13. #13
    However, I still take the novacaine and such as soon as it is offered.
    Indeed. It would be foolish to do otherwise. I have found the greatest benefit of my meditation practice to come from acceptance of illness and loss of the ability to work and do other things. The ability to deal with moderate pain is useful but not nearly so much as being able to sit with whatever comes up emotionally. Or to sit with the inability to cope with it - as you say, okay when not okay.


    Gassho
    Andy

  14. #14
    Andy wrote

    Of course there is always the danger that people coming to Zen and other Buddhist paths from mindfulness will have certain utilitarian expectations of practice but who doesn't start sitting in the belief that it will cure most, if not all, ills? A couple of years of sitting tends to cure that! ;-)

    Thanks Andy - that made me smile
    So very true of myself a while back.

    The mindfullness book that set me off on this path is 'Heal Thyself' by Saki Santorelli who works at a medical centre for chronic illness. It was such a relief to have it authenticated that it is fine to just be with illness and chronic pain and not try to force change - just to be with what is.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 06-06-2013 at 08:54 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Well, I'm also suspicious of "studies" like this, but I will say, I wish I would have known about zazen before going through 37 hrs of excrutiating back labour and an emergency c-section before my first child was born!! I would have been willing to try anything to get rid of some of that pain, hammer on head did cross my mind several times during the marathon!!

  16. #16
    I went to the second session of this conference "change your mind, change the world" discussions with the Dalai Lama in Madison,wi. Here's the link I think you can watch it. http://cmcw2013.wisc.edu/

    Pretty interesting stuff. Personally if Scienctific studies prove that mindfullness or a moment of silence or whatever the word is, benefits us especially our kids. Then I'm all for. There's too much anxiety, stress and emotional issues in school and at work. And in order for these institutions to integrate programs they want to see numbers, statistics,dollars saved. IMHO

    gassho
    wendy

  17. #17
    Hi Jenell,

    I don't feel what you say is so. I believe that most folks may sometimes become scared, sad or dissatisfied with some situation in life. and they tend to fall in and become prisoners of the viewpoint and emotion, lost in the one sided darkness, seeing their life and this world primarily in such way. To deal with it, they may come to a certain resignation about it (shrugging their shoulders that "it can't be helped"), or look the other way, or even come to accept and be at peace with it eventually or "leave the problem in God's hands, let Her will be done". These are all ways we typically adjust to problems or unpleasant situations in life. Perhaps "Let Her will be done" is very close to our way in fact.

    But the Zen Way is simply more radical, intimate, whole than that ... so whole that there may be nothing more wholier.

    In Zazen, any "person" to suffer a problem is released, any "problem" is let go as a mirage. There is no self to feel lack, to thing to be lacking, and no lack. All is whole, complete and flowing ... and we are just the flowing. The gap better what "is" and how the little self judges life "should be" evaporates. In fact, the distance to "God's hands" and "Her will" vanishes. All and every is encountered as sacred. Such is simply a more radical ... ultimate ... way of allowing, accepting, flowing, being.

    In my friends case, she came to see that even birth and death is much as a dream, creating from the dividing mind's self-imposed categories of "start and finish" ... yet from another way of experiencing, there is that which flows on and on right through all "starts and finishes". This "flowing" is not apart from us, but what you and me and all the world are all along (when the mind stops building walls between its "I" and "not I", "coming" and "going"). Perhaps we might say (if the words appeal) that there was nothing but "God's hand" all along (sometimes we say that our own inner peace, and calling on some outer power to take command of the situation is not so important when we find that inner was outer and outer just inner! ).

    Nonetheless, my friend simultaneously took her medicine, let her brain feel natural fear and dissatisfaction with the situation sometimes, as any cancer patient will. She had kids, a husband, it was terrible.

    Yet at the same time too, the first view changed the fear and dissatisfaction into a very different experience! Because of the fearless view, even the fear become less fearful. The dissatisfaction became softer. She described this as fear and no-fear at once, such that the fear became small. Like a Bodhisattva, she actually came to be more concerned with her husband, her kids, other patients then her self or own death.

    I do not speak merely from theory, for it is something I live daily in my own life for both the big and small "problems" and dissatisfactions.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-13-2013 at 02:44 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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