Ahimsa

Ahimsa (Sanskrit: अहिंसाIAST: ahiṃsā, Pāli: avihiṃsā) is a term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence – himsa). The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence.[1][2]

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AHIMSA BERKELEY is also a San Francisco Bay Area non-profit, nonsectarian foundation. Drawing on both Eastern and Western faith traditions, AHIMSA was founded in 1993 to  mark the Centennial of the Chicago Parliament of Religions.

Our founding dedication is to expanding the role of spiritual awareness in everyday life. To this end, a central goal has been to encourage dialogues on issues which bridge spirituality and various science and social issues –areas of rapidly changing world knowledge and impact. Our offerings include forums, which are free to the public. In them, we seek to focus on the universal aspects of topic areas and to bring to them critical perspectives including those of religious and spiritual philosophies. We believe that the unifying nature and true depth of philosophical experience are to be realized in the cross reflections of multiple perspectives. Go to AHIMSA website.

meditation and emotional processing

According to scientists from Harvard and Boston University, meditation produces enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain according to an article published in November of 2012 in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Researchers trained people with one of two different types of meditation, mindful meditation and compassionate meditation over an 8 week period. They measured activity in the brain using functional MRIs 3 weeks before the study and at 3 weeks after and noted what happened to areas of the brain related to compassion. They found the those people who learned compassionate meditation had a different and more loving response 3 weeks after the course even when not meditating.

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Merce Cunningham Troupe in ‘Biped’ at BA

Merce Cunningham Troupe in ‘Biped’ at BAM – Review – The New York Times http://ow.ly/jnGT3006m9g

Merce Cunningham Trust

Being Creative & Meditation

Certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking, even if you have never meditated before. This is the outcome of a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and Dominique Lippelt at Leiden University, published in Mindfulness.

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The study is a clear indication that you don’t need to be an experienced meditator to profit more from meditation. The findings support the belief that meditation can have a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we conceive new ideas. Besides experienced meditators, also novices may profit from meditation.

Different techniques, different effects

But the results demonstrate that not all forms of meditation have the same effect on creativity. Test persons performed better in divergent thinking (= thinking up as many possible solutions for a given problem) after Open Monitoring meditation (= being receptive to every thought and sensation). The researchers did not see this effect on divergent thinking after Focused Attention meditation (=focusing on a particular thought or object.)

Setup of the study

40 individuals participated in this study, who had to meditate for 25 minutes before doing their thinking tasks. There were both experienced mediators and people who never meditated before. The study investigated the influences of different types of meditative techniques on the two main ingredients of creativity:

  • Divergent thinking Allows for many new ideas to be generated. It is measured using the so-called Alternate Uses Task method where participants are required to think up as many uses as possible for a particular object, such as a pen.
  • Convergent thinking Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is a process whereby one possible solution for a particular problem is generated. This is measured using the Remote Associates Task method, where three unrelated words are presented to the participants, words such as ‘time’, ‘hair’ and ‘stretch’. The participants are then asked to identify the common link: in this case, ‘long’.

Lorenza S. Colzato, Ayca Szapora, Dominique Lippelt, Bernhard Hommel. Prior Meditation Practice Modulates Performance and Strategy Use in Convergent- and Divergent-Thinking ProblemsMindfulness, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s12671-014-0352-9