Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Few Links, Richard Davidson, etc.

Psychedelic Research blog covers some Insane Brain Train - friendly ground.

On the meditation front there's a lot of debate sparked by fundamentalist Buddhists (ugh) and more modern pragmatic practitioners.  One of those debates is on whether or not you must master jhanas before beginning vipassana.  In From Vipassana Hater to Vipassana Lover, the Theravadin blog provides the interesting perspective that perhaps "dry vipassana" (without jhanas) was actually recommended by Buddha.

In my last post I linked to the study where Richard Davidson reported that long term meditators self induce high amplitude gamma and gamma synchrony.  That was a well done piece of research (from the man who has commented that "the vast majority of meditation research is schlock").  The 8 meditators in the study were from the Tibetan tradition and were practicing metta, or loving kindness meditation.  One of the meditators was Yongey Mingur Rinpoche, who is known for his book Joyful Living.  The high levels of gamma (in this study 25-42 Hz) and gamma synchrony differ from research showing mainly alpha and theta effects.  But from my perspective, I have concerns that metta may not exactly be the straightest pipe to enlightenment, and it is something that people strive to generate.  I would love to see the study replicated on Theravadans practicing straight up vipassana, or, going the route of open awareness, maybe have those same Tibetans do their Dzogchen or Mahamudra type practice.

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