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Yesterday I had the great good fortune to be among the select audience as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was awarded an honourary law degree at the University of Toronto. His Holiness has been in Canada for a week or so now, and will remain in Toronto for another week or more. His visit has been marked by a great many people who have been drawn to see this great man, who want to hear his message of personal peace and compassion, no matter what their own particular religious persuasion might be. Yesterday’s procession included several chaplains affiliated with the University, including the Hindu and Sikh chaplains, amongst others.
His Holiness began his little speech with the comment that although he was a Buddhist monk, he felt that all the religions had a unifying force, for they all speak of peace and love and truth, and in that sense he was united with everyone present.
During his visit, which began last week, His Holiness was invited to visit a hospital where research was being conducted on the effects of meditation upon the brain, something that could not have happened twenty years ago because the technology that is being used today (MRI scans) was not available then. The research had some very interesting results, and it was the subject of a television documentary.
First, they scanned the brains of over 150 ordinary people to see what happened in the brains of ordinary people. They found that if a person tended towards depression, there was a great deal of activity in the right side of the brain, and much less in the left side. However, if a person was of a happy-go-lucky nature, the major activity was to be found in the left side of the brain, with much less happening in the right. Then they checked Tibetan monks, who are the most disciplined meditators in the world today. They could not measure all of the activity on the left side of the brain!
They then experimented with teaching people who had various difficulties to meditate. They found that it wasn’t necessary to make the commitment to Tibetan monkhood to obtain good results fairly quickly, and that these effects could be made permanent through the medium of regular meditation. Meditation helps to slow down high blood pressure and has other health benefits such as strengthening the immune system of meditation practitioners. The effects are so positive that a large downtown hospital in Toronto is now teaching meditation to quite large groups of people!
The conclusion to be drawn from this recently published experiment is that meditation is not only good for the soul, it is extremely good for improving your attitude in life, and it even helps one to become more healthy, almost as a side effect. It is important to remember that although eating food that agrees with one’s blood type is very important, following certain practices will only enhance what has begun through diet and awareness of what we feed ourselves. Feeding ourselves a little meditation just takes it to another level.