Sunday, February 26, 2012
Open monitoring--an early EEG study
Dr. Tomio Hirai, a Japanese psychiatrist, was an early pioneer in the scientific study of open monitoring meditation in the form of Zen meditation. In his book, Zen Meditation and Psychotherapy (1989), he reports on studies he had done of the practice of Zazen by seasoned priest practitioners and controls using EEG and various physiological measures. He found that there were four distinct phases in the meditation of the experienced priests: Stage I-- appearance of alpha waves, Stage II-- increasing alpha amplitude, Stage III-- decreasing alpha frequency, and Stage IV-- appearance of rhythmical theta trains. He introduced various sounds, clicks and names, to see what happened to the brain waves of the meditators and controls. While both the experienced meditators and the controls initially reacted to these stimuli by blocking the then dominant rhythm, the meditators' blocking time was a matter of a few seconds and the controls much longer. However, whereas the controls habituated to the sounds very quickly, the experienced meditators did not. This indicated that the controls got caught up by the stimuli with associations, but eventually ignored the stimuli, whereas the experienced meditation quickly let go of whatever associations that may have occurred to them and remained open to new stimuli.
For more information about the use of technologies such as EEG in understanding meditation, go to neuroshaping.net