I think that it is fascinating to look at the power of meditation and mindfulness through the lens of western science. I recently came across a video about a man in Java that, through dedicated body mind meditation, had harnessed the power of chi and used it for healing. In this video, he goes by a fictitious name of DJ and performs acts that would otherwise be considered magic. For instance, he sets newspaper on fire with his hand. He explains that he got this chi power through a type of daily power meditation. And at one point in his life he spent nearly 2 years in solitude meditating in the wilderness. He has an acupuncture and acupressure clinic Java.
After watching this video, it may be tough to believe what is happening here. Our western minds want proof. How does it work? Recently, Charlie Rose had a panel of western brain scientists on to talk about the nature of consciousness (Note: discussion about the non-conscious mind begins around the 40min. mark). There was a consensus that the non-conscious mind was a far more complex and deep than originally thought. Where our conscious mind is adept at focusing on one thing at a time, our non-conscious mind is very adept at thinking about and processing many things at once. For instance, we often have revelations or new ideas when we aren’t thinking about anything related to that subject, or when we are engaged in activities that distract us from a problem we are trying to solve. Some interesting excerpts:
“A picture is emerging of the mind as having two very different ways of thinking…the adaptive unconscious seems to be quite powerful and sophisticated.”
Rose: “suppose we had a way of increasing the amount of stuff that we can load into our unconscious.” To which Dr. Wilson replies, “There is some research that shows distracting consciousness enhances non-conscious processings…consciousness can intrude and get in the way of non-conscious processing.”
Dr. Wilson muses that when humans gained sentient consciousness, connections between the non-conscious part of the mind and the now conscious mind were lost.
What would these brilliant scientists and physicians say about DJ from Java?
In an interview, titled “Awakening the Mind: Neurobiology and You,” Dr. Daniel Siegel talks about meditation actually growing grey matter in the brain.
In our research center at UCLA, we are exploring the ways that mindful awareness practices, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation, may help promote well-being by fostering the growth of integrative regions of the brain. We believe, for example, that mindfulness promotes the integrative function of the prefrontal cortex, which facilitates the creation of a wide array of functions, from bodily balance and attuned communication to mental flexibility and morality.
He goes on to discuss “integrative states” of the brain and how a linkage between the right and left hemisphere of the brain creates new neural connections and grows the mind. To take this further there was a recent study performed at Harvard Medical Medical School proved that “Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter.”
It seems that western science and medicine is beginning to awaken and perhaps provide scientific proof of the power of chi and meditation. I hope that this information inspires you to practice mindfulness and meditation.