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The Biological Boon Behind Incense May 20, 2008

Posted by Sarah Todd in General, Meditation, News, Random Notes.

A new study reveals one reason why incense and spiritualism go together like zendos and zafus. Beyond the symbolic tradition of burning incense lies a biological benefit: it can help ease anxiety and depression. When scientists administered incensole acetate, a compound found in incense, to mice, the compound affected them in “brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs.” Adds Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion–burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!” Read all about it over in Science Daily.

“The still point of the turning world” April 22, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Meditation.
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Meditation and art.

A 3-Year Retreat April 11, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in General, Meditation, News.
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Back in the old days when there were fewer distractions, you wouldn’t miss as much spending a few years in a mountaintop cave. But these days… but 28 people did just that in Australia recently (except for the cave and mountaintop parts.) From the Buddhist Channel.

Plus, new treatments for Parkinson’s disease at Taiwan’s Tzu Chi Hospital.

8 killed in Kardze April 5, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, Dalai Lama, Meditation, News, Random Notes, Tibet.
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Police fired on monks and civilians in Kardze in eastern Tibet, killing eight. Radio Free Asia has a lot of info on this. The monks objected to a re-education program they were forced to undergo, and the government objected to their objections. Some sources say as many as fifteen were killed, and there are also reports of at least two monks in Sichuan province committing suicide:

On Saturday, the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, based in India, said two monks committed suicide last month in Sichuan’s Aba County following government oppression. Aba County has been the scene of large protests involving hundreds of monks and citizens.

One monk, identified as Lobsang Jinpa, from the Aba Kirti Monastery killed himself March 27, leaving a signed note saying, “I do not want to live under Chinese oppression even for a minute,” the human rights group said.

The group said the second suicide occurred March 30 at the Aba Gomang Monastery, when a 75-year-old monk named Legtsok took his life, telling his followers he “can’t beat the oppression anymore.”

It was impossible to verify the information since Chinese authorities have banned foreign reporters from traveling to the region.

From Precious Metal: Outspoken activist Hu Jia arrested Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal on ethnic tensions in non-Tibetan areas of China, such as the Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

The government of India draws sharp criticism from its own citizens and is accused of placating China.

Rebecca Novick of the Huffington Post on why the 2008 Olympics are good for Tibet: because they expose China’s abysmal human rights to the world.

Meditation and reducing depression; MBCT April 2, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Meditation.

Scientists in Britain study meditation and its effects on the brain. (The government funds this?) The popular Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is discussed.

MBCT is recommended for people who are not currently depressed, but who have had three or more bouts of depression in their lives.

Trials suggest that the course reduces the likelihood of another attack of depression by over 50%.

The National Health Service pays for MBCT.

Change Blindness April 1, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Dalai Lama, Meditation, News, Tibet.
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Interesting article in the New York Times today about how we often fail to notice change, even when it’s right in front of our eyes. Would meditators do better on the test given in the article than non-meditators? What do we choose to pay attention to? How much attention do we pay to the world around us? For most of us, the answer is Not much, the article concludes.

Plus: the Dalai Lama’s blog. Satire alert.

Meditation leads to Compassion March 29, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Meditation.
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Does meditation make you more compassionate? Or does being compassionate make you meditate more?

MSNBC: Neuroscience may explain the Dalai Lama:

Many wonder how the Dalai Lama can retain his kindness and magnanimity, even as his homeland is torn apart by violence. New neuroscience research may help explain the exiled Tibetan leader’s unremitting compassion for all people.

And China is complaining about biased news coverage? Please.

What Started the Violence? Plus: A Stroke, Step by Step March 20, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Dalai Lama, Meditation, News, Tibet.
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[A young Tibetan looks at Chinese riot police officers in Kangding County, Sichuan Province.]

The indispensable Danny Fisher shows us a BBC video depicting the incidents that may have sparked the violence in Tibet. And this article is now updated — China admits the protests have spread.

Tibet’s spiritual leader Thursday said he was powerless to stop anti-Chinese violence as authorities in Beijing acknowledged for the first time that unrest had spread into neighboring Chinese provinces.

var CNN_ArticleChanger = new CNN_imageChanger(‘cnnImgChngr’,’/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/03/20/tibet.unrest/imgChng/p1-0.init.exclude.html’,3,1); //CNN.imageChanger.load(‘cnnImgChngr’,’imgChng/p1-0.exclude.html’); The official Xinhua News Agency said there were “riots in Tibetan-inhabited areas in the provinces of Sichuan and Gansu.” Both provinces neighbor Tibet. The Xinhua report blamed the incidents on supporters of the Dalai Lama.

On Thursday, Xinhua quoted police as saying officers opened fire and wounded four rioters “out of self-defense” on Sunday in what it called “Tibetan-inhabited Aba County in southwestern Sichuan Province.”

Loden Jinpa has a great video on neuroanatomist Jill Taylor describing a massive stroke step by step — her own stroke.

What can meditation do for you? March 17, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Meditation.
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Lower your blood pressure, and your stress. Even the NIH is in on it.

Meditation Myths March 12, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, Meditation.
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The Chinese embassy in Israel seems to have put pressure on Tel Aviv University to remove a Falun Gong flyer. Some students and faculty were appropriately outraged.

An article on meditation myths. One myth? That meditation has anything to do with spirituality or religion or any of that yucky stuff.

“The evidence that shows meditation has an effect on the brain and has effects with long-term practice on the health of the practitioner really warrants us taking another look at this and not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

“It doesn’t matter under what context you practise it – the important thing is that you do.”

Refugees from Bhutan leave Nepal for re-settlement overseas. They’ve been there for fifteen years. Does the timing have anything to do with Bhutan’s upcoming elections?

More bloodshed in Sri Lanka as the 2008 death toll for Tamil rebels tops 2,000.

Going to Winnipeg? Stop by the Manitoba Buddhist Church.