In the conversation about TM meditation, Steve
talked about claims of physiological benefits like reduced blood pressure, etc. being available through any
type of relaxation.
There are additional claims made for other types of meditation that I've never heard the group talk about, like:
- Shedding the illusion of the soul (which any decent skeptic would agree is in fact an illusion) and therefore experiencing oneself to be more connected with other people and like an "aspect" of the environment.
- Being or at least feeling more compassionate by just "exercising" compassionate of thoughts
- Cultivating awareness of ones "automatic" emotional reactions to stimuli and (eventually) being able to better respond to them in a less reactive and more deliberate way (i.e. executive function)
I assume those things are less straight-forward to measure directly and I'm no neuroscientist -
AHEM!, but my understanding is that none of it seems far-fetched given the malleability of the brain - i.e. "neurons that fire together wire together."
It's been given a fair bit of scientific study by Ritchie Davidson, which I'd love to hear the group's take on. Sam Harris is also a proponent - see his book Waking Up and a number of his podcasts episodes. News reporter Dan Harris (no relation to Sam) has a book "10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics"