The Science of Meditation

I haven't given up on meditation. I really think it's a worthwhile endeavor, not just for me but for many or all of us. I have been struggling though. My mind is on one of those hamster wheels with a big fat rat running on it as fast as its little legs will go. Crazy thoughts, smart ideas that I will forget an instant later, ruminations of the past, all jumble together as they fly out of the wheel.

I guess you are not that interested in it because I only got one comment on my first post, Meditation for Godless Heathens. But it was a great comment, by easydoesit. It mentioned an episode of Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda, which was called Worried Sick. You can click the link to watch the whole episode. Robert Sapolsky was in it talking about baboons and stress, plus a bunch more research. It really enforced my desire for learning to meditate, because I suffer from PTSD and chronic anxiety, and I know it's not good for me.

PBS also has a page for that episode called Meditation 101. Here it goes over the 4 steps to meditate simply. I tried this for a couple of days and had varying success. My problem is my hamster wheel mind. So I thought I'd try some guidance. Here again I ran into the "airy-fairy" garbage I try to avoid as a skeptic.

What I'm after is medically and scientifically sound basic meditation. Yesterday I found an interesting guy, Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness meditation as a technique to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness.

So far, he's the closest I've come to someone I can listen to. I found a mindfulness meditation that I listened to today and it was really neat. It gave me some guidance and focus but not too much. He seems very zen.

Here is a video where he leads a session on Mindfulness at Google. It's 1 hour and 12 minutes long. He gets into the session in earnest at the 21 minute mark or thereabouts.


  1. I also have a hampster-wheel mind, but meditation never worked for me. Fortunately, however, painkillers and alcohol do. Glad you found something cheaper and healthier.

  2. lol, Matt, yeah, painkillers and alcohol aren't an option. I'm looking for something healthy.

  3. Meditation can be really helpful, but you're absolutely right, it's really hard to get sound information on it rather than just "airy-fairy garbage." I was in Borders the other day and had to stand in line to buy my book next to stacks of kits that "taught" you about acupressure, meditation "using Buddhist principles" (or something like that), whatever that thing is where they put hot rocks on you, and reflexology. I was buying something by Carl Sagan and I almost wept for the world. I don't think "Buddhist principles" have anything to do with the fact that when I clear my mind and breathe more slowly, my heart rate slows down.

    Big props for SA Frontiers. Love that show.

  4. Yeah, it's sad what people think is "information" these days. I used to believe all that airy fairy stuff because I had no critical thinking skills at all. I had to learn to think and reason. I will say it again, people need to be taught to think and reason for themselves!