Buddha + Science = Meditation Makes You a Nicer Person. Seriously.

Despite the “+” and “=” sign in the title of this post, it really isn’t a mathematical equation, but recent research suggests that Meditation = Nicer You is just as true as 1+1=2.

Gautam_buddha

This guy? Super nice.

The fine folks at Northeastern University’s Social Emotions Group have concluded that meditation does indeed boost compassion, something that many practitioners have always considered true, but there hasn’t been much science behind that feeling. Using a control group, two types of “meditative” groups, and a secretly staged waiting room observation (nicely outlined in their succinct and very readable paper), the researchers found that those who meditated were five times more likely to assist a stranger in need than those who did not regularly meditate.

The bonus here is that it didn’t matter (in the study) whether the meditation was guided towards any particular set of teachings on compassion/suffering or not. Simply taking regular time to focus/relax one’s mind appeared to have the same “helping” effect as meditating on compassion and lessening the suffering of others. Theoretically then, any type of activity which allows you to enter a similar meditative state (yoga, visualization, or even some exercise routines for example) should provide similar benefits.

funny-yoga-dog

Helpful dog in training.

If you’ve been meditating, carry on! If you’ve been thinking about it (meditating on meditation?), here’s one more awesome reason to start. If you’ve always wanted to be a nicer person and your Free Hugs Campaign has resulted in a restraining order or two, maybe this is your sign. And don’t get me wrong – free hugs are awesome. I am just thinking meditation is less likely to get you into the court system.

Free Hugs ST

Is he asking for one or offering one? We’ll never know as long as he keeps hiding under that plastoid shell.

So there it is – just something to meditate on :-)

 

Always,

Felix

 

Picture Credits:

Gautama Buddha – Nepal National Heroes Blog

Yoga Dog – dumpaday.com

Free Hug Stormtrooper – favim.com (I feel a little badly – couldn’t find the original “owner” of this particular image. No lawsuits please!)

Why Alarm Clocks Are Evil

Darth Vader Alarm Clock

The Force is strong with this one.

BEEEEP-BEEEEP-BEEEEP-BEEEEP

That is annoying to read, let alone to actually hear at 200 decibels (an entirely unscientific approximation) first thing in the morning. It is no wonder that you’ve probably had the inclination to smash your alarm clock a la Bill Murray in Groundhog Day at least once in your lifetime. You know, like this:

SmashAlarmClock

The Force is strong with this one as well.

Or maybe this:

I would advocate purchasing a large number of cheap alarm clocks – just to do this on occasion.

Anyhow – the point is that Science (with a capital “S”) has determined what many of us already knew: Your Alarm Clock May Be Hazardous to Your Health.

And it’s not just about the chronic sleep deficit many of us suffer from (as if that weren’t bad enough). By holding ourselves to the time demands of today’s society, we are “wreaking havoc” (the Words of Science) on our body’s natural rhythms, preventing our internal “daily clock” (a bundle of nerves called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, if you must know) from rewinding itself, impairing the body’s ability to do stuff – like control body temperature, secrete hormones, regulate blood pressure, and manage your internal organs. You know, the little things. We are “tuned” to the natural cycle afforded to us by the rotation of the earth – sunlight and darkness reset the body clock to prepare it for action the next day. Vary too much from that schedule for too long, either by waking too early or staying up too late, and you are asking for trouble.

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17

This thing doesn’t spin for nothing.

While we might not be able to turn off our alarm clocks and cancel all of our morning meetings, we can ask ourselves the following:

  • Where else in my life am I answering to an ‘unnatural’ calls?
  • What is throwing me off of my natural rhythm? What IS my natural rhythm?
  • How can I “rewind”, and how often do I need to?

Now I wouldn’t want you to waste time by worrying about time, but the clock is ticking …

Always,

Felix

 

photo credits:

Darth Vader Alarm Clock – millionaireplayboy.com. It’s not what you think!

Bill Murray 1: tumblr

Bill Murray 2: gifsoup

Earth: Wikipedia