EL29 Mindfulness Meditation - Edmonton Lifelong Learners ... Session Class Handouts/EL29/Lec. 1.5- Reآ 

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    EL29 Mindfulness Meditation

    Lecture 1.5: Recent scientific and

    neuroscience findings

    Quick check: How much can you recall so far?

    Which of the following traits are NOT common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? a)  Belief in one God b)  Critical importance of chanting &

    meditation c)  Importance of holy books d)  Originated in the middle east

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    Lectio Divina

    !  In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading” is a traditional Benedictine practice of reading

    !  Intended to promote communion with God and to increase knowledge of God’s Word.

    Lectio Divina is a form of Christian

    mediation.

    What is its purpose or intention?

    Chat with your neighbors….

    Lecture Overview

    ! Topics: • Meditative states and science • Meditation and ASCs • Brain responses to meditation

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    Key Learnings: !  Key Learning #1:. Meditative states are not linked to

    paranormal or metaphysical/mystical interpretations as were long believed by most religious traditions.

    !  Key Learning #2: : Meditative states are really just another ASC, but long-term practice seems to have considerable benefits. Dozens of psychological and wellness benefits accruing from meditation have now been documented scientifically.

    !  Key Learning #3: Different meditation practices engage different brain circuitry that result in different internal psychological states of mind and external behaviors.

    Key Learnings: !  Key Learning #1:. Meditative states are not linked to

    paranormal or metaphysical/mystical interpretations as were long believed by most religious traditions.

    !  Key Learning #2: : Meditative states are really just another ASC, but long-term practice seems to have considerable benefits. Dozens of psychological and wellness benefits accruing from meditation have now been documented scientifically.

    !  Key Learning #3: Different meditation practices engage different brain circuitry that result in different internal psychological states of mind and external behaviors.

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    Consciousness States: Medical

    NWC

    http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2014/08/07/exploring-the-conscious-and-unconscious-brain-in- every-day-life/

    Awareness allows us to receive and process

    information communicated by the

    five senses and thereby relate to ourselves and the rest of the world.

    Awareness has psychological and

    physiological components

    Arousal is regulated solely by physiological functioning. Its primitive responsiveness to the world is demonstrated by predictable reflex to involuntary response to stimuli

    Meditative Sate?

    The Neuroscience of Consciousness:

    !  Consciousness not confined to one region of the brain.

    !  Global Workspace Model: A dynamic integration of millions of neurons processing information – constant flux – where your attention is at any given moment. http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00200/full

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    Altered States of Consciousness

    !  Mental experiences that transcend ordinary experiences. •  Literally an “altered state” deviating from one’s normal mental state. •  May induce emotions like: fear/anxiety, well-being, connection to

    supernatural entities. •  Encouraged and interpreted by many different cultures as important

    religious experiences.

    !  Stroke of Insight: Jill Bolte Taylor on TED.com •  http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

    Meditative state !  Many forms such as yoga, Zen and transcendental

    meditation each of which has its basis in Eastern religion like Buddhism and Hinduism.

    !  Meditation involves the use of a technique to deliberately alter Normal Waking Consciousness (NWC) in order to induce an ASC characterized by a deep state of relaxation.

    !  It typically involves altering the normal flow of conscious thoughts by focusing on a simple stimulus like breathing or a body part.

    !  Suppresses activity of the sympathetic nervous system

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    Religious interpretations of ASCs 1.  Spirit Possession

    !  A supernatural force (a spirit/god) enters a person’s body. !  An individual may be able to control the spirit, to heal/divine or the spirit may

    control the body and heal/divine without the host’s knowledge. !  Spirit possession may also be negative or unwanted. In this case exorcism rituals

    may be needed. !  Trance state in which the Soul has left the body. Interpretations of the

    Altered State are based around the Soul’s experience out of body. 2.  Unity with God/gods

    •  Long periods of intense prayer or meditation •  Loud music with a repetitive beat, ecstatic dancing, trance. •  Brings members into a Unitary State with God, a state in which the

    individual experiences a feeling of becoming one with the supernatural. 3.  Liberation from Suffering

    •  Intense mediation practice over years •  Practitioner comes to realize higher wisdom and overcome suffering

    Out of body experiences (OBE) !  Commonly reported in

    parapsychology literature for decades.

    !  Once thought to be the soul leaving the body.

    !  OBEs can be induced by brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, dissociative and psychedelic drugs, dehydration, sleep, and electrical stimulation of the brain,

    !  Modern explanation relates to damage to the Parietal Lobe and/or other brain regions

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    Ghosts !  40-50% of people in the

    modern western world still believe in ghosts.

    !  No scientific evidence that any “spirit matter” survives death.

    !  Scientifically demonstrated causes include: •  Electromagnetic fields induced

    in the temporal lobes. •  Low frequency infrasound can

    lead to auditory and visual hallucinations.

    •  Toxic mold & CO poisoning can also lead to hallucinations

    •  Social psychology and the will to believe others and an longing for an “afterlife”

    Altered States of Consciousness and the Brain Cerebral Cortex (when we think of “the brain” this is what usually comes to mind) Divided into right and left hemispheres, with each hemisphere's lobes responsible for specific functions:

    Frontal Lobes Have you ever experienced the phenomenon of arriving at school and not remembering driving there? The planning, organization and self-correction skills controlled by the frontal lobes are responsible for your safe arrival at school. If there had been a detour on the way, the frontal lobes' mental flexibility would have allowed you to alter your route and successfully complete your trip. Carrying out daily functions requires you to remain in control and generate alternatives when problems arise.

    Parietal Lobes Allows you to find your way in the dark and sense your relationship with surroundings. Visual perception and analysis of space, as demonstrated by the ability to read a map or follow a maze, are also processed in these lobes. Location of the Orientation Association Structure

    Ex: If these are damaged, may not know where “you” end and the outside world begins.

    Brain Stem Life-sustaining functions such as regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and body temperature. The system that is responsible for the level of arousal and alertness is also in the brain stem and is known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS, referred to in the book as the Sympathetic System functions like a dimmer in a light switch, increasing and decreasing the responsiveness to the environment. If the RAS is damaged, like a light that has been dimmed…an altered state of consciousness such as a coma or a vegetative condition may result. An altered state may also result from overstimulation of this system.

    Limbic System In addition to the easily identifiable lobes, there are systems within the brain that connect the lobes. The system most sensitive to the results of head injury is the limbic system, which mediates mood, emotions, motivation, attention and memory. Injury to the system may be manifested in behaviors ranging from flat affect (no expression) to aggressiveness; from mild distractibility to the inability to pay attention for one minute; from almost imperceptible memory problems to the inability to recall dialing numbers on a phone.

    Temporal Lobes

    Right Temporal Lobe. This is the place for the senses, without worries, burdens, etc. produced in the Left Temporal lobe. It is this lobe that is stimulated most during an Altered State.

    -The ability to understand a teacher during a lecture (language comprehension), to name your friends and family (naming ability)

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    Scientific interpretations of meditative ASCs

    !  Still a new field in neuroscience. !  However, general conclusion would be that

    most religious interpretations of meditative states are probably wrong.

    !  Most meditative states are just another form of ASC that is purely organic-brain driven in nature and not metaphysical.

    !  Many claimed psyc