I am something of a scientific study geek. I love reading reports of their methods and findings! There’s often some little tidbit that makes me think a little differently about the world, ever widening my perspective.
You can image my double-excitement when Sara Lazar’s study on meditation reported showing an increase in grey matter in five areas of the brain. THIS is information I can use in teaching yoga!
Now, it’s only one study and while it reports findings in line with those from prior studies observing the effects of meditation on the brain, I personally don’t know if the evidence is sufficiently conclusive to claim “fact”. So I remain reserved in my excitement at the news.
But then again, I’m genuinely excited because this particularly finding actually backs up my own experience! (All the more reason to be cautious of it from a science perspective, but still!)
The study shows that the region of the brain associated with internal sensing grows larger with meditation. I’ve felt that! “That” being the ability to sense more of my internal experience. I remember not feeling a thing when my teacher directed my awareness to the base of my spine, and now I do sense something. (I don’t know what it is that I am sensing, but that’s another post altogether.)
I also am reminded that because our subtle awareness can be developed with practice, it can also begin in an underdeveloped state. You may be like me when I started meditation -unable to sense what you’re guided to feel. Keep at it, and this may change.
I’ve know that reality from my students’ feedback, but a brain-based explanation is somehow more reassuring to me (science geek). Also it gives me a personal understanding of my sort-of experience with sutra 3.36.
From this come means of gaining inner direct knowledge through the nest, highest, most subtle use of the energies involved with the hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling faculties.
Translation by Kofi Busia
Feuerstein points out that this siddhi is seen through external sense (used in a “walking/talking” state) capabilities that are side effects of samadhi and samayama. Just as science/studies gives evidence for meditation exercising the brain and building finer tuned senses, so the yogis saw the same play out in themselves and their students.
Now, the studies saw changes in the brain tissue after 8 weeks of 20-40 minutes of daily, self-directed meditation practice (and who knows how those changes manifested in thoughts or actions), which suggests to me that some of our yogic bonuses don’t come through samadhi or samyama only, but also through the simple effort of the practice.
That’s awesome. Practice daily. You’ll get your Yoga Super Senses soon enough.
hari om tat sat!