What the teachers say about restarting your Buddhist practice: overcoming obstacles, bringing back the enthusiasm, re-establishing faith and commitments
Video mantra chanting: Lama Tsongkhapa’s Migtsema wonderfully chanted by Yoko Dharma. Benefits: healing, compassion, metta, wisdom
Video teaching: Metta and Karuna, the “most important” Buddhist practices of Love and Compassion, from H.E. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche with Lama Tsongkhapa Migtsema mantra chanted by Yoko Dharma
Sacred outlook – Seeing beyond ordinary perception in modern culture, and American Buddhism
Why is pride a poison, and when can pride of accomplishment be considered a good thing? With full Ambattha Sutta “Pride of Birth and its Fall.”
Vajrasattva, the Great Purifyer, among the most powerful and profound healing and purifications techniques in Vajrayana Buddhism
Family lay Buddhism: What the Teachers Say about keeping motivated in your Buddhist Practice as parents — and coping with every-day family life in a modern stressful world
Reconnecting with nature to reboot our “spiritual self” activates a feeling of self-transcendence
Video: Buddhist Teachings on Ngondro, The Foundation Practices with Venerable Zasep Rinpoche
Kucchivikara-vattha: The Monk with Dysentery (Sutra teachings) “If you don’t tend to one another, who then will tend to you?”
“Putting Compassion on the Scientific Map”: Compassion Boosts Happiness/Health; and Research Indicates That Practicing Buddhists Are Happier than Average.
Video with wonderful mantra chanting: Om Gate Gate Paragate Para Samgate Bodhi Soha, the essence of Heart Sutra and Emptiness
Music Mantra Video: Taking Refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and the Four Immeasurables wonderfully sung by Yoko Dharma with video visualizations
Broken Commitments: 3 Teachers weigh in on practice “overload” and breaking Vajrayana practice promises. What do we do about it?
Dalai Lama and Lama Tsongkhapa: teachings on calm abiding meditation that go beyond “the breath” as the focus — targeting the main affliction
Music Mantra Video: Om Mani Padme Hum wonderfully chanted by Yoko Dharma, the sacred sound of compassionate Buddha Chenrezig
Tara Book excerpt and teaching: Who is Tara and how can She help us? An introduction to Tara, Karma, Shunyata, Dependent Arising, and Buddha Nature by Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
What’s with all this consort union in Tantric Buddhism? No, it’s not about sexual fantasies. The psychology of Yab-Yum consorts, union of wisdom and compassion
Video: “How do I deal with my anger? Sometimes it consumes me and hurts others”: a Buddhist student asks teacher Ven. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
Video: “Experience Buddhism” with Namdrol Rinpoche “Buddhism emphasizes, and lays its very foundations on, equanimity.”
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other teachers recommend Kṣitigarbha mantra and practice for times of disaster, especially hurricane and earthquake, because of the great Bodhisattva’s vow
Medicine Buddha healing mantras chanted by the amazing Yoko Dharma
Why 35 Confessional Buddhas practice and “The Bodhisattva’s Confession of Moral Downfalls” is a critical purifying practice for Buddhists
What the Dalai Lama and Patch Adams Have in Common: Laughter, and Compassion, the Best Medicine
“Preliminary practices… clear and enrich our minds, allowing practice to progress smoothly” — Thubten Chodron. Why Ngondro is a lifetime practice, and a “complete path”
Tantra Helps “Stop Ordinary Perception”, and is the Fast Path to Enlightenment. But How Do Modern Buddhists Relate to Deities?
Painter and digital Thangka artist Jampay Dorje aims to bring “Thangka painting into a modern era” with spectacular art, lessons for students, and a life-long project to illustrate all of the 11 Yogas of Naropa
Buddha teaches us to view every meal as if we were reluctant cannibals: Samyukta Agama Sutra 373, the Four Nutriments
Letting Go — letting go of past, letting go of future, letting go is the hardest thing to do: Na Tumhaka Sutta
Becoming Gesar, the fearless Buddhist: How to overcome fear in uncertain times, according to Pali Sutta, Mahayana Sutra and Tantra
The Hand of Buddha defeats the three poisons : Vajrapani (literally, “Vajra Hand”) — Guardian of Shakyamuni Himself; Vajrapani, the power of the mind to overcome obstacles such as pride, anger, hate and jealousy
Tonglen video: Why giving and taking practice is an important kindness meditation and Bodhichitta practice; how to do it: taught by Zasep Rinpoche
Understanding Dependent Co-Arising is critical to Buddhist practice: The Great Causes Discourse Maha-nidana Sutta
Pali Sutta for Our Age: Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Book Review of a Classic
The bridge between science and Buddhism, atoms and no atoms, theism and athiesm; Yidam deity meditation and the Cognitive Science of Tantra
“Every one has Buddha Nature.” A teaching video: Venerable Zasep Rinpoche with mantra chanting by Yoko Dharma
The Science Behind Stilling Your Mind With Mindfulness —– MRI Scans Show the Amygdala Shrinks While the Pre-Frontal Cortex Thickens

The Science Behind Stilling Your Mind With Mindfulness —– MRI Scans Show the Amygdala Shrinks While the Pre-Frontal Cortex Thickens

By Anne Green

One of Buddha’s most profound teachings about the mind was that “Ignorance is the one thing with whose abandonment clear knowing arises.” Fundamentally, this teaching is that by clearing your mind of the clutter of delusion and misconception it carries, you can gain valuable insight about what is important both to you and to the world around you. One of the tools the Buddha promoted  for gaining this insight is the use of mindfulness. Almost all Buddhists practice mindfulness in some form and on some level.

Mindfulness is the act of truly engaging with the world around us, and the people living in it. Many people walk through life in a fog and don’t take the time out of their busy lives to engage with the beauty and wonder that they see every day. In one of his most famous teachings, the wise Thich Nhat Hanh said that:

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” This miracle is what sits at the very heart of practicing mindfulness.


Numerous peer-reviewed studies of mindfulness meditation have proven the real benefits to health and mind.
Numerous peer-reviewed studies of mindfulness meditation have proven the real benefits to health and mind.


The concept of mindfulness is one that has been around for centuries, but it is only recently that practicing mindfulness has been perceived as a popular and valuable thing to do in mainstream non-religious circles. Both inside and outside the practice of Buddhism, much has been made in recent years about the importance of mindfulness for spiritual, mental and even physical health.

The Impact of Mindfulness on Your Brain

All Buddhists respect and understand the impact that mindfulness, and mindful meditation can have on their spiritual health and wellbeing. For more than a decade, mindfulness has been accepted as a useful therapy for anxiety and depression, and success has also been found in adapting the teachings for addiction treatment and for the treatment of PTSD in returning military veterans. However, as more ordinary people are choosing to incorporate mindfulness into their everyday lives, extensive scientific research has been conducted on the impact that it can also have on your mental and physical wellbeing, particularly on the changes that it can cause in your brain. Brain imaging techniques have revealed that long term mindful practice can profoundly and significantly change the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other, therefore indefinitely changing the way our brain functions and the way that we think.


In several studies, MRI scans are used to visually measure the significant changes mindfulness meditation can achieve.
In several studies, MRI scans are used to visually measure the significant changes mindfulness meditation can achieve.


In one study, MRI scans were undertaken on individuals before and after they had completed an eight week mindfulness course. The study found that the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for our ‘fight or flight’ reflex) shrank whilst at the same time the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for higher level thinking, such as decision making and awareness) became thicker and more developed.  As a result, the researcher leading the study, Adrienne Taren,  concluded that: “The picture we have is that mindfulness practice increases one’s ability to recruit higher order, pre-frontal cortex regions in order to down-regulate lower-order brain activity.” Effectively this means that when we practice mindfulness, our more primal responses to stress (such as our fight or flight reflex) seem to be superseded by more thoughtful responses and higher level desires and understanding.  It is clear then why those individuals suffering from anxiety, depression and PTSD (disorders where the prevalence of the fight or flight reflex is high) would find the practice of mindfulness such a beneficial treatment for their condition.


Mindfulness meditation has shown measurable increases in the thickness of the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for higher level thinking.
Mindfulness meditation has shown measurable increases in the thickness of the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for higher level thinking.


The Physical Changes Mindfulness Can Lead To

Practicing mindfulness has been shown to have an impact on physical health too, as well as on spiritual and mental health. Fascinating studies have been undertaken to show that, whilst obviously not able to cure the conditions, mindful practice can significantly reduce the symptoms of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, HIV and tinnitus. Several studies have been conducted exclusively with breast cancer survivors, and found that self-reported stress, medical symptoms, and depression were all significantly lower in the control group that had incorporated mindfulness practices  into their treatment plan. In a separate study of patients with the same condition, Lengacher and colleagues found that in a  randomized controlled trial comparing a 6-week mindfulness treatment programme to a more conventional medical-focused  care programme, there were statistically significant differences in the two groups. The group that had had the mindfulness based treatment presented with lower depression, anxiety, and fear of recurrence (from a mental health point of view) as well as higher energy and physical functioning in physical terms. It is clear then that mindfulness can have significant benefits to those suffering from long term health problems, and is certainly something that all patients could consider adopting as part of their self-care. Mindfulness can be done independently with very little training or expense required, meaning it is something everyone can become proactively involved in for their own benefit, as well as to benefit the world around them.

The effects of mindfulness are truly exciting, and it is fascinating to see the practice move away from being considered to have simply spiritual value (though the value of the spirit should not be under appreciated) and into something whose value (whilst long understood and acknowledged by Buddhists) is now being supported by science and clinical evidence.


Buddha-Weekly-Rewire the brain-Buddhism


Previous story from Anne Green on Buddha Weekly:

The Science Of Your Center: The Vagus Nerve, Your Meditation Highway, And The Parasympathetic Nervous System; How Meditation Works Positively on the Body



“Mindfulness meditation as a Buddhist practice”,  Insight Meditation Centerhttp://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/articles/mindfulness-meditation-as-a-buddhist-practice/

“The science of mindfulness”, Mindful.org, http://www.mindful.org/the-science-of-mindfulness/

“How mindfulness is working its way into my life…and into addiction treatment”,  Rehabs.com, http://www.rehabs.com/pro-talk-articles/how-mindfulness-is-working-its-way-into-my-life-and-into-addiction-treatment/

“What does Mindful Meditation do to your brain?”, Scientific Americanhttp://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/what-does-mindfulness-meditation-do-to-your-brain/

“The mindfulness of breathing”, The Buddhist Centrehttps://thebuddhistcentre.com/text/mindfulness-breathing

“Mindfulness can literally change your brain”, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2015/01/mindfulness-can-literally-change-your-brain

“Mindfulness meditation for oncology patients: A discussion and critical review”, Integrative Cancer Therapieshttp://ict.sagepub.com/content/5/2/98.abstract

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: a randomized wait-list controlled trial”, International Journal of Behavioural Medicinehttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22618308

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