Author Topic: The Buddhist Pill, science in denial?  (Read 3962 times)

Offline francis

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The Buddhist Pill, science in denial?
« on: May 23, 2015, 06:22:56 am »
I was surprised by the naivete of the article Seven common myths about meditation by Catherine Wikholm.

Either the author has no first-hand experience with mediation or else she was so confronted by what she saw, she went into denial and had to write a book to deny the reality of meditation ie. The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Actually Change You?

Quote
For the secularised mind, meditation fills a spiritual vacuum; it brings the hope of becoming a better, happier individual in a more peaceful world. However, the fact that meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self – who we feel and think we are most of the time – is often overlooked in the science and media stories about it, which focus almost exclusively on the benefits practitioners can expect. If you’re considering it, here are seven common beliefs about meditation that are not supported by scientific evidence.

There is also appears to be confusion about Buddhist meditation compared to Transcendental Meditation which is not a Buddhist practice. Then add Swami Ambikananda, Hindu monk, a teacher of Vedanta philosophy and yoga, to the equation and I think the whole concept has gone south, and is a misrepresentation of Buddhist mediation.

From the workshop on the book The Buddha Pill: Can meditation change you? by Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm.

Quote
Does meditation work like a pill to alleviate stress? Can it put us on the path to personal transformation? In this study day, psychologists Dr Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, and spiritual teacher and author Swami Ambikananda, will jointly explore the human ambition for personal change and its illusions, with a focus on yoga and meditation. They will examine the psychological and biological evidence, from early research on Transcendental Meditation to recent brain-imaging studies. They will also discuss personal accounts from teachers and practitioners, as well as recounting their own experiences of testing the effects of meditation and yoga. This study day will include a taster of different types of meditation and will challenge assumptions about the uses and effects of ….


Any thoughts?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2015, 06:26:23 am by francis, Reason: add book link »
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Offline Galen

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Re: The Buddhist Pill, science in denial?
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2015, 07:54:25 am »
I was surprised by the naivete of the article Seven common myths about meditation by Catherine Wikholm.

Either the author has no first-hand experience with mediation or else she was so confronted by what she saw, she went into denial and had to write a book to deny the reality of meditation ie. The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Actually Change You?

Quote
For the secularised mind, meditation fills a spiritual vacuum; it brings the hope of becoming a better, happier individual in a more peaceful world. However, the fact that meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self – who we feel and think we are most of the time – is often overlooked in the science and media stories about it, which focus almost exclusively on the benefits practitioners can expect. If you’re considering it, here are seven common beliefs about meditation that are not supported by scientific evidence.

There is also appears to be confusion about Buddhist meditation compared to Transcendental Meditation which is not a Buddhist practice. Then add Swami Ambikananda, Hindu monk, a teacher of Vedanta philosophy and yoga, to the equation and I think the whole concept has gone south, and is a misrepresentation of Buddhist mediation.

From the workshop on the book The Buddha Pill: Can meditation change you? by Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm.

Quote
Does meditation work like a pill to alleviate stress? Can it put us on the path to personal transformation? In this study day, psychologists Dr Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, and spiritual teacher and author Swami Ambikananda, will jointly explore the human ambition for personal change and its illusions, with a focus on yoga and meditation. They will examine the psychological and biological evidence, from early research on Transcendental Meditation to recent brain-imaging studies. They will also discuss personal accounts from teachers and practitioners, as well as recounting their own experiences of testing the effects of meditation and yoga. This study day will include a taster of different types of meditation and will challenge assumptions about the uses and effects of ….


Any thoughts?


Hi Francis,
thank you so much for bring this to our attention

I when to the site  and read the article and was struck by how misguided and misinformed the author was.

The authors statement that:

"that meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self – who we feel and think we are most of the time"

shows a complete lack of understanding the Buddhist concept on "No-self", simply but, it does not aim to destroy the sense of self but to transcend our limited sense of self.

The author uses few studies as reference and when I read the articles, some of them actually contradict her statements.

The vast majority of studies on Meditation show clear positive effects on thoughts , moods, psychological disturbance, pain, even physical illness
fMRI studies even show how the working of and structure of the brain is changed for the better.

And these studies are done by highly acclaimed scientists at the world's most prestigious universities and proven through replication.

I can post a volume of links to studies on the benefits of meditation , give me a few days -- or weeks

The author also does not mention that mindfulness meditation is not the only type of mediation studied, for example meditation on compassion has also been studies and show to increase altruism.
Also there are many more Buddhist practices that are taught and used by Buddhism that are beneficial to people.

The "dark night" experience the author mentions maybe be uncomfortable but not necessarily a negative side-effect but an important  insight into emptiness and no-self. The author does not appear to have read the article by  Shinzen Young that they reference.

As well process of getting to know yourself during meditation will bring up hurtful issues for one's past, but again this is not a necessarily harmful effect because meditating through  and on these experiences  facilitated in working through past traumas, not unlike the process of psychotherapy. I would refer people to the work of psychotherapist Belleruth Naparstek on her work using guided imagery meditation with trauma survivors. see her book "Invisible Heroes"

Just a few thoughts

Galen

Offline mf

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Re: The Buddhist Pill, science in denial?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2015, 11:51:51 am »
If "Catherine Wilkholm" wrote it in a book it then it must be true.  I will cease meditation at once. :cheesy:

Offline rgrayberg

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Re: The Buddhist Pill, science in denial?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2016, 11:45:12 am »
I wonder what motivated her to write this article. She seemed...angry...in regards to meditation.

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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: The Buddhist Pill, science in denial?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2016, 07:38:06 am »
It looks like a typical clickbait article- use terms such as 'never', 'everyone', 'unique' and 'unequivocally' and then sit back and watch the fun. Twist a truth slightly, and it's gone like sand through the fingers.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

 


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