Yongey Mingyur was an extremely anxious child, who suffered from panic attacks. Dedicated to a contemplative life, this Tibetan Buddhist teacher, considered to be “the happiest man in the world” after a study on neuroplasticity in his brain, cured himself by making his fears the focus of his meditation. That,s how he earned his mental peace, he says. This article contains some extracts from the conference he gave in Casa del Tibet in Barcelona.
When we are in an optimistic mood, the right side calms down and the left prefrontal cortex is activated. When this happens, people feel, in Davison’s words, “actively engaged, goal-oriented, enthusiastic and energetic.”
One of the first results of an investigation into the brains of monks who are experts in meditation, with an average of 10,000 to 50,000 hours throughout their lives, showed that when they meditate on compassion, the activity in the key brain areas increased 100%, notably more than in the case of another control group that was taught the same practice. The more hours of practice, the greater increments appeared. All this confirms that, in the realm of positive moods, as in almost any undertaking that we take, whether material or spiritual, practice matters.
Other tests on beginner groups showed similar results. In a high-voltage biotechnology company, workers were asked to meditate 30 minutes a day for eight weeks. After this time, they discovered that they had started to activate the left prefrontal area that regulates the positive mood more strongly – and their impressions were that instead of feeling overwhelmed and harassed, they enjoyed their work. So, while Western culture can look askance at someone sitting quietly in meditation, this kind of “doing nothing” does seem to do something extraordinary after all’
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