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Are we morally obligated to meditate?

Trying meditation

Among Buddhists, you’re likely to hear about “skillful” and “unskillful” means for minimizing suffering and maximizing the possibility for liberation.

The idea is that in order to lead a good life, you need to engage in certain self-cultivation practices. 

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Are we morally obligated to meditate?

Are we morally obligated to meditate?

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/1/10/21013234/meditation-brain-neuroscience-moral-obligation

vox.com

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Key Ideas

Altering the brain

In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.

You can reap the benefits if you practice meditation for half an hour a day over eight weeks.

Mindfulness meditation

It typically refers to a practice for training your attention. It is an awareness that comes through paying attention in the moment, but non-judgmentally.

It involves sitting down with closed eyes and focussing on feeling your breath go in and out. When your attention starts to wander, you take note and bring your attention back to your breath.

Reduced amygdala activity

Meditation shows reduced activity in the amygdala, our brain’s threat detector. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it sets off the fight-flight-freeze response.

In a study, after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes per day over just one week, participants showed reduced amygdala reactivity only while they were engaged in mindfulness, suggesting they need regular practice.

Loving-kindness meditation

Loving-kindness and compassion meditation involves cultivating a love for people who are suffering. Loving-kindness meditation can change your neural circuitry even faster than mindfulness meditation.

Typically, in loving-kindness meditation, you repeat certain phrases in your head, such as "may I be safe," "may I be healthy". After you wish these things for yourself, you wish the same things for people you love, and then you circle out.

Behavior changes

Loving-kindness or compassion meditation affects the brain by boosting the connection between the brain's circuits for joy and happiness and the prefrontal cortex that guides behavior.

Trying meditation

Among Buddhists, you’re likely to hear about “skillful” and “unskillful” means for minimizing suffering and maximizing the possibility for liberation.

The idea is that in order to lead a good life, you need to engage in certain self-cultivation practices. 

Not for everyone

Meditation is not for everyone. For some people, meditation can provoke intense mental distress of impaired physical functioning.

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Mindfulness

... is a collection of practices aimed at helping us to cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment.

Meditation sharpens your attention

Meditation helps to counter our tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve attention.

Larger randomized controlled trials are still needed to understand how meditation might work with other treatments to help people manage attention-deficit disorders.

Consistent meditation

Long-term, consistent meditation mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more sustainable way.

  • Practicing meditation reduces the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors.
  • Mindfulness practices help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. 

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Being Compassionate
Being Compassionate

Compassion can be understood as a mental state of cognitive recognition of suffering, with an emotional feeling, and a desire to do something to end that suffering.

Everyon...

The Four Components Of Compassion
  • Cognitive: Recognition of suffering.
  • Affective: Arising of emotion.
  • Intention: A desire for relief from suffering.
  • Motivation: Action to remove suffering.
Six Ways To Compassion
  • Try research-tested compassion practices, like writing exercises.
  • Informal compassion: Be aware of the people around you, and acknowledge the interdependence with everyone.
  • Set up an intention: Find out what you want for yourself, your life, and what you have to offer the world. 
  • First-hand self-knowledge: Instead of following ready-made knowledge, find out what works for you through self-examination.
  • Get support: Find support in your peers, friends, and relatives, to help make compassion a habit.
  • Self-compassion: Stick to the practice even when it's hard and be gentle to yourself. 

Mindfulness is no longer considered a “soft skill,” but an essential part of overall health care.

Meditation helps you navigate stress, both acute and chronic

Mindful breathing can interrupt our stress and fight-or-flight reactions—meditation may “quiet” the amygdala, the area of the brain that responds to stress.

Regular mindfulness practice improves mental focus

 When we multitask, our concentration levels deplete But the simple act of returning to the breath, over and over again, builds the “muscle” of attention, helping you both stay on task and recognize distractions. 

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