I had no idea there was all this research out there on meditation and its effects on the brain! I saw this talk today, which is over a year old now, but it is news to me. I find it fascinating that meditation provides us with a means to control our base level of "happiness." Matthieu Ricard describes the differences between the brains of longtime meditators and a control group, showing that random fluctuations in the mood of longtime meditators remain within a smaller range. Ricard describe longtime meditators' greater overall satisfaction in their lives as an ongoing baseline below the level at which things fluctuate. He tried to describe this satisfaction or happiness as an intangible quality that he tries to give his audience an idea of by showing pictures of the faces of some of his Tibetan teachers. Anyone who has been to a talk by the Dalai Lama, or been around this type of great leader will have experienced this intangible quality, and instantly know what he is talking about. Ricard has all kinds of colorful charts and data to back up his claims, and I thought it was great to hear all the rational reasons for meditation spelled out by a scientist who meditates!
Maybe this struck more of a chord with me because I've become increasingly dissatisfied with psychotherapy over the years, wondering if it hasn't just magnified my neurotic tendencies by making me focus on what I am feeling. This video made me question the value of psychotherapy as useful treatment for any emotional issues, because in this framework it can only have very limited value, if any at all!
This is an hour long video, and I enjoyed the whole thing, but I was most impacted by the last 25 minutes of it, which is the more scientific part of the talk.