I feel very strongly that the application of science to understanding the consciousness of meditators is very important… if the good effects of quieting the mind and cultivating wholesome mental states can be demonstrated scientifically, this may have beneficial results for others. – Dalai Lama
This is a quote from the book I’m currently reading, Train Your Mind Change Your Brain, which covers the groundbreaking collaboration between neuroscience and buddhism.
The book follows the last ten or so years of the Mind & Life Institute, a group of the top neuroscientists, a few psychologists, and a few philosophers who meet with the Dalai Lama once a year at his home to discuss advancement in neuroscience.
The forward in the book is written by the Dalai Lama himself, who has been supporting the advancement of neuroscience in ways such as convincing highly trained Tibetan Monks to receive fMRI scans.
The book does a great job of helping you understand neuroscience by starting from early studies and unraveling new findings in a somewhat chronological, and very logical order. The book is packed with studies that demonstrate neuroplasticity, the ability of our brain to change physically.
One of the findings mentioned in this book intrigues me especially. People who were shown words associated with compassion, such as love and hugs, compared to people who were shown other words (both neutral and positive), acted more altruistically in the exercise that followed.1
If simply looking at words can affect our actions, then there is no doubt in my mind that we can change who we are over time by being aware of how we grow and change as human beings, even as adults.
As someone who has been promoting and developing cognitive exercises, I’m excited to know that scientists are out there working hard to prove that happiness can be generated through thought.