We are invited to join our friends of the Jodo Shinshu
This Friday is the Summer Solstice Enjoy your longest day and shortest night.
A few of us joined SFZC to march in the 2012 Gay Pride Parade and here are a few photos. You will have to look hard in the background to see some of your fellow HSZC Sangha members, but we are there! And we will work on getting some photos we took added to this website soon!
Two interesting studies on the neurological effects of meditation have recently been published which relate to our practice of zazen and mindfulness. The first study, carried out by Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and MIT, shows that mindfulness meditation helps modulate alpha-wave activity in the brain and reduces one’s susceptibility to distractions. This phenomenon may correspond to what Suzuki Roshi referred to as “mind waves,” and his teaching that sitting zazen calms these waves and helps one remain upright in the face of distracting thoughts or images arising within the mind. This new study also related this change in brain activity with a demonstrated enhancement of memory recall:
“Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall,” says Catherine Kerr, PhD, of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Osher Research Center at Harvard Medical School, co-lead author of the report. “Our discovery that mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted the brain wave that screens out distraction could explain their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”
A second study from UCLA on the effects of meditation on the aging process, shows an increase in the density in various regions of the brain, increased neural connectivity, and better insulated white-matter fibers and overall brain health in long-term meditators.
“Meditation appears to be a powerful mental exercise with the potential to change the physical structure of the brain at large. Collecting evidence that active, frequent and regular meditation practices cause alterations of white-matter fiber tracts that are profound and sustainable may become relevant for patient populations suffering from axonal demyelination and white-matter atrophy,” she says.