Meditation and the brain

I can’t think of many religious leaders who are as friendly toward science as the Dalai Lama (and I admire him for that, among other things). With his support, Tibetan Buddhist monks with considerable meditation experience were studied by neuroscientists. The researchers looked at a phenomenon called perceptual rivalry, in which each eye is presented with a different image and the dominant image that the subject perceives typically fluctuates rapidly between the two. When the monks practiced a form of meditation that involved focusing their attention on a single thing, their rates of fluctuation slowed, sometimes dramatically. The mechanisms behind perceptual rivalry, although they are not completely understood, are thought to be linked to attention and conscious awareness.