News - Certified happiness through meditation
by Life Positive
Matthieu Ricard: the happy monk They wired Matthieu Ricard, a globe-trotting polymath who left everything to become a Buddhist in a Himalayan hermitage, with 256 sensors at the University of Wisconsin for four years.
“The scans showed that when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain produced a level of gamma waves — those linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory — never reported before in the neuroscience literature,” neuroscientist Richard Davidson said.
The scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex, compared to its right counterpart, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity, researchers believe. Matthieu Ricard was thus lab tested the happiest man on earth.
The monk, molecular geneticist and confidant of the Dalai Lama, is passionately setting out why meditation can alter the brain and improve people’s happiness in the same way that lifting weights, puts on muscle. He says anyone can be happy if they only train their brain.
“It’s a wonderful area of research because it shows that meditation completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are,” says Ricard.
Research into the phenomenon, known as ‘neuroplasticity,’ is in its infancy and Matthieu has been at the forefront of ground-breaking experiments along with other leading scientists across the world.
“We have been looking for 12 years at the effect of short and long-term mind-training through meditation,” he said. “We’ve found remarkable results with long-term practitioners and also with three weeks of 20 minutes a day, which of course is more applicable to our modern times,” he elucidates.
Ricard grew up among the intellectual elite of Paris as the son of celebrated French libertarian philosopher Jean-Francois Revel and painter Yahne Le Toumelin. “At lunch we’d have three Nobel Prize winners eating with us.”
By the time he got his Ph.D in cell genetics he had become disillusioned with intellectuality.
Eschewing intimate relationships and a career, he moved to India to study Buddhism. A prominent monk in Kathmandu’s Shechen Monastery, Ricard divides his year between isolated meditation, scientific research and accompanying the Dalai Lama as his adviser on trips to French-speaking countries and science conferences.
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