Meditation

Reading 'The Buddha Pill' written by Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm gave me some insights into meditation I want to share with you. The book was so good that I decided to mail to Catherine and invited her for a Mindfunda interview about 'The Buddha Pill'. The audio is sometimes a bit tardily because my provider was hacked at the time of the recording.

Can you change or are you born a certain way?

When I was educated as a psychologist I had to think about this ‘nature – nurture debate‘.
The nature side of this debate says we are born with a fixed set of genes. William Bernet has researched so-called ‘criminal genes‘. Being born with those genes, even though you are brought up in a loving environment will unleash the criminal in you. But don’t you like to assume that a good family, love laughter and acceptance can make even bad criminal genes flourish into happiness? Maybe so…
On the nurture side there is a compelling story in ‘The Buddha Pill’ about Nick.
A born criminal, a drug dealer. Being in prison just taught him how to be a more effective criminal. It gave him new connections, new methods. But one time he made a decision to stop. He focussed his energy on meditation and yoga and he has become a succesful meditation teacher.

Is meditation the Buddha pill?

meditation
Buddha Pill
Catherine Wikholm and Miguel Farias

I remember when I was young a lot of people, including my parents were engaged in transcendental meditation. Pictures of serene people floating above the air… Catherine Wikholm also saw these pictures in her childhood. And came to the same conclusion: there most be something magical about meditation that makes you a better person. When she was asked by Miguel Farias to research the effect of meditation on prisoners she did not hesitate one second.

meditation
The Buddha pill
Can meditation change you?

The book originated from a meeting with Sandy Chubb of the Phoenix trust. She uses meditation to improve the inner sense of well-being of prisoners. Being two experienced meditators with a scientific background, Miguel Farias and Ctaherina Wikholm decided that they would do a scientific experiment to see if meditation is indeed the Buddha pill.

Researching the scientific literature, Catherine and Miguel found out that there is not a lot of solid scientific research available into the merits of meditation and mindfulness. Nowadays, mindfulness has gained acceptance as THE panacea for inner peace for restless people (and aren’t we all restless?). But there is not a lot of research done about meditation that could meet the scientific standards of having a control group and a clear defined variable that is manipulated to see the difference between the two groups. 

The results of the experiment are in ‘The Buddha Pill’. But the writers have added some very useful sidenotes for meditation. First of all: sitting alone reciting a mantra does not make you a better person. Change needs to be incorporated in the body. Yoga does just that. It is no wonder that their experiment involved Yoga practices.

The second sidenote was picked up by the media. Catherine explaines in the interview that she did not always like that. She and Miguel really belief in meditation as a good thing. The dark side of meditation got a lot of attention from the media. But I think it is a very important chapter. Meditation and Mindfulness are not for everybody. That is important to know. However, this book is not an attack on meditation or mindfulness. The Buddha Pill wants to unite the two contradictions that still hunt society today: magic versus reason. Often these two are seen as incompatible

So, after you have seen the interview, what do you think? Can people change for the better?

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THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Spirifunda:
psychology for everyday with a spiritual layer of meaning, searching for the soul. Our brains are wired for believe in magic. In a world filled with rationality, you sometimes need a little magic, a little “I wonder why”. Synchronicity, the insights of Carl Jung, the mythology used by Freud, the archetypical layers in the Tarot, the wisdom of the I Tjing, Shamanism, the oldest religion of humanity, all that information gets published in the Spirifunda section of Mindfunda.

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James Randi, honest liar, let’s us focus on our own spirituality

James Randi
James Randi

 

Recently, I watched the film honest liar (click to watch the trailer) about the Amazing Randi. James Randi, former magician and escape artist is very honest about the fact that he deceits people. But being a skilled magician he could see through tricks that famous mediums engaged in. He made it his life effort to expose fraud mediums. Yes, even the ones that truly thought they were gifted like child whisperer Derek Ogilvie.

 

James Randi
An Honest liar
If you use this link to by an honest liar you will support Mindfunda

 

Stanley Krippner (see my blog and interview with him) a professor in parapsychology used to be a magician too. Not by profession, but never the less he had his maimonides lab for sleep research checked by magicians. Krippner and Montague Ullman performed several experiments exploring ESP in dreams. A dreamer was selected, a painting was randomly chosen. There was a “sender” who looked at the painting and tried to submit the picture to the dreamer. If there was sign of REM sleep, the dreamer would be awaked. The dream was written down and analyzed for similarities between the images in the dream and the image in the painting.  James “The Amazing” Randi, perhaps the world’s most prominent skeptic, also offers Krippner his benediction: “There are so few things in this field you can depend on, and there are so many people who are prejudiced and biased. But I can depend on Stan. And I don’t think he’s biased at all.” (quoted from sfweekly.com)

The film takes us back to the glory days of the Amazing Randi who could escape out of every trap. We learn that James Randi always deceits. When he battles fake mediums, he trains magicians to act as a medium. When he wants to proof that Uri Geller is a fake, he trains magicians to manipulate scientific tests, the way Uri Geller has done it. He battles using the same ingredients. In a way he is performing the principal of homeopathy: using the same “poison” as the thing that got you sick (or fooled) in the first place. In his battle against homeopathy he has gone out o his way to make sure people were aware of the absurdity of the homeopathic principle (click here to see a Ted talk about it) The film gets an interesting plot-twist when he suddenly finds out that his partner has been using a fake id all those years.

What has James Randi tought us? Always be skeptical. Always be aware that you can be biased yourself. A heartbreaking story in the documentary is when two by James Randi trained magicians have tricked a film maker into believing they have paranormal abilities. They tell that it was so very hard to tell them that they had used tricks. “It was like he (the film maker) discovered the Holy Grail only to find out it was not the real one. We are believers. We need magic. It is time to discover, maybe even rediscover our own believe. Our own faith. Our own magic.

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