Saturday 10 November 2012

Jhana states in concentration meditation

In Theravada Buddhism there are two intersecting paths to nibhana, samatha or concentration meditation and vipassana or mindfulness meditation.  In the samatha path, there are levels referred to as jhanas, each one of which is more refined than the previous one.  An EEG study by DeLosAngeles et al (2007) using 13 experienced jhana practitioners showed that there were sequential changes in the distinct states of meditation as reported subjectively.  Compared to an eyes-closed resting baseline, there were global decreases in delta power and an initial global increase in alpha power.  However, while delta power continued to decrease in the deeper states so did alpha power.  The initial increases in alpha power together with the decreases in delta power were thought to indicate enhanced attentional processing in a relaxed but vigilant, non-drowsy state.  The decreases in alpha power in the deeper states were thought to be consistent with a subjective decrease in external attention during the deeper states of meditation.

DeLosAngeles, D., Williams, G., Burston, J., Pope, K. J., Clark, C. R., Loveless, S., Lewis, T., Whitham, E., Fitzgibbon, S., Wallace, A. & Willoughby, J. O. (2007). Electroencephalographic changes during states of Buddhist concentrative meditation. Abstract presented to the 7th International Brain Research Organisation World Congress of Neuroscience, Melbourne, 12-17th July.

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