Ancient Wisdom Makes a Comeback

Ancient Wisdom photo

The March/April 2013 issue of Scientific American Mind features articles about the science of Mindfulness, particularly referencing UCLA programs and research. At right, an image from National Geographic 2009 describing Univ. of Wisconsin fMRI studies of advanced meditators furnished by the Dalai Lama.

It is great to see the practice of Mindfulness rising in recognition and prominence, as the cover of the above popular science magazine attests. Similarly, the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium last month in Washington, DC had numerous presentations and references to Mindfulness, a further indication that this method is gaining high popularity.

Mindfulness as it is presently developed (by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfeld and others) derives from Zen Buddhist meditation and practices. It also has some similarities to Vipassana Buddhist meditation practices, and practices from Yoga, Taoism and Confucianism. From the perspective of modern interpretations being called Mindfulness, the unifying thread among all these is inclusion of body sensation awareness as a theme in the practice. Once again there is confirmation of the effectiveness of including this kind of mind-observing-body process for health and well-being.

The same conclusions were reached in the 1970’s with Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing and in the 1990’s with Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing®. More recently a collaboration between University of Wisconsin neuroscientists and the Dalai Lama has given additional solidity to the method, as advanced meditators had their brain activity measured by MRI and other methods. Here at CSES, we have been teaching Body-Low-Slow-Loop in every program for more than 12 years, with students and clients consistently reporting effectiveness at relieving anxiety and depression, physical pain and other forms of emotional distress.

These methods have been around for a very long time (thousands of years) but just now we are enjoying a renaissance due to scientific measurement technology that is now available. When science provides credibility, ancient ideas can be accepted more widely. The popularization of these ideas bodes well for humanity, as science and mysticism find common ground. Perhaps in time Polarity Therapy, a synthesis of wisdom traditions that springs from the very same ground as Mindfulness, will also be re-discovered and appreciated, once science validates the central concepts of energy flow and autonomic nervous system importance.

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