Study Finds Link Between Meditation and Wisdom

April 7, 2016

There are various states of consciousness, however meditation is one of the most important of them. It increases cardiovascular quality, lowers blood pressure, decreases anxiety and among quantum physicists is considered the fourth state of consciousness in which the entire brain is engaged. But it also does something very important — it increases wisdom.

A new study, “The Relationship between Mental and Somatic Practices and Wisdom,” published in PLOS ONE, confirms the age-old conception that meditation is associated with wisdom. Surprisingly, it also concludes that somatic (physical) practices such as classical ballet might lead to increased wisdom.

Meditation prevents stresses from getting into the bodily system and already pent up stresses are let out. Both happen simultaneously and we tap the source and joy of what we are. As this state consumes us more and more, we become happier, anything we see, we feel, we look at, becomes more intense and more beautiful. Each of our senses then does the job of all the other senses too. Our knowledge increase and becomes more intuitive. Our consciousness makes us feel that our body is part of the whole, part of the entire creation and the entire creation is part of us.

“As far as I know this is the first study to be published that looks at the relationship between meditation or ballet and increased wisdom,” said Monika Ardelt, associate professor of sociology at the University of Florida. Ardelt is a leading wisdom researcher who was not involved in the project. “That meditation is associated with wisdom is good to confirm, but the finding that the practice of ballet is associated with increased wisdom is fascinating. I’m not going to rush out and sign up for ballet, but I think this study will lead to more research on this question.”

The researchers included ballet in the study, “not expecting to find that it was associated with wisdom, but rather for comparison purposes,” said Patrick B. Williams, lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychology. Williams is a member of a research project on somatic wisdom headed by principal investigators Berthold Hoeckner, associate professor of music; and Howard Nusbaum, professor of psychology.

“The link between ballet and wisdom is mysterious to us and something that we’re already investigating further,” Williams said. This includes ongoing studies with adult practitioners of ballet, as well as among novices training at Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. Williams wants to track novices and seasoned practitioners of both meditation and ballet for months and years to see whether the association holds up over time.

The published research was groundbreaking because science has overlooked somatic practices as a possible path to wisdom, Williams said.

The qualities the world desperately needs more of, namely love, kindness and compassion, are indeed teachable. Scientists have mostly focused on the benefits of meditation for the brain and the body, and a recent study by Northeastern University’s David DeSteno, published in Psychological Science, took a look at what impacts meditation has on interpersonal harmony and compassion.

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