Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Zen Brain

The Upaya Institute and Zen Center has a series of podcasts on meditation and neuroscience.

Zen Brain: "Science is just now documenting what meditators have known for millennia. Jim Austin calls meditation “artful attention” and discusses the importance of this skill in our lives. He talks about his own experience both as a Zen student and a neurologist looking at the brain in relation to meditation."

Zen Brain 1: "Science journalist and New York Times contributor Sandra Blakeslee provides an overview of how recent developments in neuroscience have changed the way we view the impact of various practices, including meditation, upon brain structure and function."

Zen Brain 2: "Neuroscientist Richard Davidson provides an introduction to brain systems that may be relevant to meditation. This presentation gives an orientation to neurophysiology and lays the foundation for Dr. Davidson’s second presentation which discusses the relationship between the brain and meditation."

Richard Davidson has done some excellent work on meditation and neuroscience; he will come up again on this blog. James Austin is best known for his earliest work on Zen and neuroscience, Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness, which I haven't read so I can't vouch for his work. He is, however, one of the most long-standing researchers on the neurological effects of meditation. Finally, this is the first time I've ever heard of Sandra Blakeslee, but she seems to be a lay expert on neuroscience.

Also, take a look at Upaya's other dharma talk podcasts.

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