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Lions Roar : July 2011
45 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 MEDITATORS FIND TRUTH through carefully exploring their inner subjective experience in what some people like to call “first-person investigation.” Science looks to the external material world and relies on third-person investigation and methodologies that lead to discoveries that can be tested and replicated by peers in the scientific world. The ways that these tradi- tions search for truth couldn’t be more different, and yet it shouldn’t surprise us to find that the two truths are actually one. Nevertheless, scientists have traditionally viewed meditators’ assertions with a healthy skepticism, and meditators have often felt the same way about scientists’ requirement for objective proof of meditation’s benefits. More recently, however, there has been an explosion of both popular and scientific interest in the biology and neuroscience of meditation. The National Institutes of Health has funded Meditators say their practice fundamentally changes the way they experience life. MICHAEL BAIME reports on how modern neuroscience is explaining this in biological terms. DR. MICHAEL BAIME is clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and is based at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He founded the Penn Program for Mindfulness in 1992 and is involved in a wide variety of projects exploring the effects of mindfulness and similar practices. BASELINE MEDITATING Two functional brain scans of the author’s brain: a baseline scan and one done while meditating. These show metabolic activity—red is most active, black is inactive. The one done while meditating shows a different pattern of metabolic activity. “This shows that meditation doesn’t just affect our mind—it changes the way that the brain works,” Michael Baime says.