The Strangely Powerful Experience of Sitting Together

Why meditating with a group feels different than meditating alone.

So here's a question: Why would folks take the trouble to get out of the house, get into the car, and drive to another town—or even another state!—only to sit together with a group of strangers in silence?

Well consider this, about an interesting study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that during meditation, Zen Buddhist monks show an extraordinary synchronization of brain waves known as gamma synchrony--a pattern increasingly associated with robust brain function and the synthesis of activity that we call the mind….

Such results connote more than spiritual harmony; they reflect the coordination of otherwise scattered groups of neurons. Gamma synchrony increases as a person concentrates or prepares to move. And lack of synchrony indicates discordant mental activity such as schizophrenia. Finally, a growing body of theory proposes that gamma synchrony helps to bind the brain's many sensory and cognitive operations into the miracle of consciousness.

That hypothesis certainly agrees with the monks' gamma readings, seemingly confirming that Zen meditation produces not relaxation but an intense though serene attention. Trained musicians also show superior gamma synchrony while listening to music--another form of calm but intense focus.

You can read the entire article “Zen Gamma” from Scientific American on line.

Bring your Thanksgiving guests to meditation, this Saturday at 9 am.

Rabbi Mark Sameth is the spiritual leader of Joyful Judaism: Pleasantville Community Synagogue an inclusive, progressive synagogue – with members from twenty towns, villages and cities all across Westchester and “A Hebrew School Your Kids Can Love.” Read The New York Times article. Follow Rabbi Mark on Twitter . Weekly meditation at the synagogue every Saturday morning at 9 am is open to the public; everyone – without exception - is welcome and warmly invited. OUR MEMBERSHIP DRIVE IS ON. See “Top Ten Reasons to Join PCS” at www.ShalomPCS.com.

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