Scientists now have evidence that Buddhists really are happier and calmer than other people. Tests on their brains show that the parts associated with good moods and positive feelings are more active, because of all the meditation they do. Researchers at University of California San Francisco say that the type of meditation done by Buddhists can change the amygdala, an area of the brain which controls fear memory, which is why Buddhists are less likely to be as shocked, surprised or angry as other people. Reseacher Paul Ekman says, “The most reasonable hypothesis is that there is something about conscientious Buddhist practice that results in the kind of happiness we all seek.”
In another study done at the University of Wisconsin, scientists scanned Buddhists’ brains and found activity in the left prefrontal lobes of experienced meditators. This area is linked with positive emotions, self-control and temperament. The tests show this area of their brains is constantly lit up, and isn’t just affected when they’re meditating, meaning the effect lasts for a long time afterwards. Professor Owen Flanagan says, “We can now hypothesize with some confidence that those apparently happy, calm Buddhist souls one regularly comes across in places such as Dharamsala, India (home of the Dalai Lama), really are happy.”
Activate your amygdala by tuning in to Dreamland during the next two weeks, as Whitley explores two very different ways to meditate?from Hypnotica and Wayne Dyer.
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