Mind-Body Philosophy: Part 4- Using the Body to Shape the Mind

By Frank Simons

MEDITATION mind body 40001

The Meditation Center presents the 24-part Great Courses series Mind-Body Philosophy: Part 4- Using the Body to Shape the Mind, at 5:30, Thursday, February 1, 2018, at the Center, Callejón Blanco 4.

How might we use the body to shape the mind? This lecture explores some traditions from Eastern philosophy, which has much to teach us about such things as yoga and meditation. The term ‘yoga’ is found in the oldest text in any Indo-European language, the Rig-Veda, composed in India in perhaps 1200BC. Yoga is a spiritual as well as a physical practice. The goal of yoga is a state in which one is calmly immersed, mind and body, in breath and movement. Meditation has many forms, which are only a shade away from yoga. A technique, common among many forms, is mindfulness of breathing, offering a focus for attention. One frees the mind by letting all other thoughts go. That is the core of meditative practice in all its forms.

Yoga and meditation certainly seem to produce an altered mental state, though it is not clear precisely what that state is. Using functional MRS[LG1] , investigators have reported patterns of brain activity indicative of mind wandering are less pronounced in meditators. Measurements of brain waves of Indian yogis were in the 8-12 hertz alpha range, characteristic of relaxed waking; of Japanese Zen practitioners were in the 6-7 hertz range, even more relaxed. It is widely accepted that yoga and meditation reduce stress. Claims as to its effectiveness in reducing chronic pain, increasing immune response, or curing cancer are hard to test, much less to prove.

Using the body to shape the mind also appears in Western thought, primarily in recommendations for physical exercise. Walt Whitman wrote a 13-part series for a New York newspaper entitled “Manly Health and Training, with Off-Hand Hints toward Their Conditions.” In adults, short bouts of physical exercise have been found to enhance attention and short-term memory. Exercise is of value later in life. One of the effects of age is a shrinking of the hippocampus, important in memory storage. Older adults who walked 40 minutes around a track three times a week increased the hippocampus as much as 2% per year.

The professor Patrick Grim, a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has provided his students with invaluable insights into issues of philosophy, artificial intelligence, theoretical biology and other fields. Professor Grim was awarded the university’s Presidential and Chancellor’s awards for teaching excellence and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars. There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video. Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


Video Presentation

Mind-Body Philosophy: Part 4- Using the Body to Shape the Mind

By Frank Simons

Thu, Feb 1, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted


[LG1]I am wondering if they mean MRIs?



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