Monday, May 9, 2011

Zen and Neuroscience

I attened the Zen and Neuroscience workshop at San Francisco Zen Center , April 23, 2011. The topic has always interested me and Philippe is an active researcher in the field as well as a Buddhist practitioner with a wealth of knowledge to share. it was also an opportunity to meet the Abbot, Ryushin Paul Haller and to experience my first full-day event.

There were some technical difficulties with the recording and setup but you can listen to all of last year's version of the talk. Besides the lecture we did a number of mindfulness exercises and a few listening and compassion exercises, working with a group that seemed to mostly consist of psychiatric practitioners as well as a few odd interested parties like myself.

My  take away is similar to Shudo's: neuroscience is just catching up with 2500 years of inquiry into the workings of our minds by Buddhists monks and scholars. Throughout the day I kept coming back to the first passage ot the Dhammapada:

DHP 1: What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is a creation of the mind.

It's exciting to see how rapidly the understanding of our minds is growing, and to have the efficacy of meditation validated by this rigorous inquiry. I was left with a clear impression of the benefits of Zazen both for expanding our awareness and support of physical health. I'll be doing a one-day sit as soon as I have a chance.