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Balgore
17 Jan 11, 17:11
I have read many websites, articles, etc. on the good effects of meditation, and even studies revealing that buddhist monks with thousands of hours 'logged' into meditation increases their gamma ray output (related to conciousness, IE a higher state of conciousness) as well as increased activity in the frontal left lobes (which is where the emotion of happiness comes from), etc.

Anyway, someone mentioned to me that meditation can bring about bad effects too, and that the lack of breathing can even lead to extensive brain damage and cellular destruction... (this, I did not know)

I tried to basically google "bad effects of meditation", and more found stories of people going 'crazy' and committing suicide, or becoming 'depersonalized' or 'out of touch with reality' (which, I do not fear any of those things happening to me)

But I did not really find anything on meditation causing brain damage. Does anyone here know if the lack/shortness in breathing can actually lead to brain damage, or if this is merely misinformation from my friend...? (also, if it is true, at what point would it actually happen, and how high is the risk of this actually happening? I imagine, if it is true, it must be an extremely low percentage based on how highly recommended meditation is to mental health from many sources...)

Aloka
17 Jan 11, 22:18
Anyway, someone mentioned to me that meditation can bring about bad effects too, and that the lack of breathing can even lead to extensive brain damage and cellular destruction... (this, I did not know)

Is this specifically Buddhist meditation you've been investigating, Balgore... or just meditation in general ? As for "lack of breathing," I'm wondering where that came from ?

If you Google 'bad effects' of anything on the internet you're probably likely to get lots of negative results !

In the UK, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, which includes meditation(based on Buddhist meditation) as part of the programme, is available for referral on the NHS as a treatment for depression ...so meditation can hardly be considered dangerous by the medical profession.

"Based on Jon Kabat Zinn’s Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy includes simple breathing meditations and yoga stretches to help participants become more aware of the present moment, including getting in touch with moment-to-moment changes in the mind and the body.
In eight weekly classes (the atmosphere is that of a class, rather then a therapy group), and by listening to tapes at home during the week, class participants learn the practice of mindfulness meditation."

http://cebmh.warne.ox.ac.uk/csr/mbct.html

Esho
18 Jan 11, 01:49
Maybe the only risk about meditation as the way toward awakening is to truly awake.

:P

Deshy
18 Jan 11, 06:53
Well it is said that breathing gradually stops as meditation goes deeper. You can even experience your breathing becoming shorter and smoother as you meditate. However, I have never heard this causing any brain damage whatsoever. If it causes such then I am not sure how people who have been meditating for long hours still wake up in perfect shape or in better shape :p So chances are high that you have been misinformed.

As for going crazy and all that, meditation in general is not only Buddhist meditation as Dazzle pointed out. Not sure why correct practice of Buddhist meditation will make a person crazy. Never heard of it.

In case if you haven't done so already, I suggest you read these; written by two Thai Forest monks based on their own personal experiences

1) The Ajhan Brahm's book : Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond
2) Anapanasati: Mindfulness of Breathing by Buddhadasa Bhikku : http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/

Cobalt
18 Jan 11, 07:17
Well it is said that breathing gradually stops as meditation goes deeper. You can even experience your breathing becoming shorter and smoother as you meditate. However, I have never heard this causing any brain damage whatsoever. If it causes such then I am not sure how people who have been meditating for long hours still wake up in perfect shape or in better shape :p So chances are high that you have been misinformed.


Yeah, I agree. This should not be a problem. A body at rest needs to breathe less. If you stop breathing entirely during meditation then you have another health problem that has nothing to do with too much sitting and being mindful and are probably already on a ventilator or you are dead. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ondine%27s_curse)

Aloka
18 Jan 11, 07:34
Yes, I think that when thoughts settle and the mind becomes more peaceful and spacious, very relaxed gentle breathing isn't so noticeable.

Regarding Anapanasati mentioned by Deshy, there's also a short article here by Ajahn Sumedho:

http://www.amaravati.org/abm/english/documents/nowisknow/03ana.html

and also 'Only One Breath'

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Articles/Ajahn_Sumedho_Only_One_Breath.htm

Esho
18 Jan 11, 14:33
Yes, I think that when thoughts settle and the mind becomes more peaceful and spacious, very relaxed gentle breathing isn't so noticeable.

Yes, this is true.

Roshi Taisen Deshimaru dedicated his life with special devotion to the practice of Zazen and Shikantaza. He leave a very important knowledge about this meditative technique that is the main aspect of Soto Zen schools.

In his book Vrai Zen (True Zen) (http://www.amazon.fr/Vrai-Zen-Introduction-au-Shobogenzo/dp/2901844138) he gives a very wide exposition of the benefits that Zazen can bring to our physical and mental helth. In addition to what has been told about breathing, there are other benefits, because of this special breathing rate, in relation with the electromagnetic performance of the brian. The brian in an ordinary way works with Beta rhythms that are essencialy chaotic and desorderly. Zazen and its particular breathng rate shifts quikly from Beta into a special kind of Alpha rhytms different as the ones that are given by an ordinary concentrarive activity like reading or studding or deep intelectual concentration. This special Alpha rhythms are particular of meditation, in this case Zazen and shikantaza techniques. The Alpha rhythms given by the intellectual and artistic concentration are still rough. On the other hand, the Alpha wave lenths given by Zazen (or meditation) indicates an absolut relaxation of the electromagnetic tone of the brian which leads to external feeling of pace and mindfulness.

The overall result of this particular mode of brian function is what leads to a very deep and easy way of breathing that keeps a steady heart tone that increases arround a 40% the circulation of oxygenated blood to all organs and into the brain itself in a positive feedback loop. The brian after some time of contious practice of Zazen learns to recall this special way of operation even in daily life.

The increased heart tone causes movilization of fat from body deposits and can lead, after some time of constant practice, to the use of body fatty deposits more efficiently and reduce the energy requirements by a half leading to a low calorie diet that is essencial for keeping a good meditative performance.

So, there is no reason to think about health risks when one is devoted to meditative practice as it is required by the Soto Zen tradition.

;)

Balgore
18 Jan 11, 19:00
or you are dead.

LOL



Well it is said that breathing gradually stops as meditation goes deeper. You can even experience your breathing becoming shorter and smoother as you meditate. However, I have never heard this causing any brain damage whatsoever. If it causes such then I am not sure how people who have been meditating for long hours still wake up in perfect shape or in better shape :p So chances are high that you have been misinformed.

As for going crazy and all that, meditation in general is not only Buddhist meditation as Dazzle pointed out. Not sure why correct practice of Buddhist meditation will make a person crazy. Never heard of it.

Yeah I think that is what he was referring to (if you stop breathing for 5 minutes, you start to suffer massive irreperable brain damage). But obviously, no one truly 'stops breathing' when they are meditating, "or you are dead" lol.

I figured too, since I had never heard of it happening to anyone before, and ive heard about meditation my whole life, that it must have been incorrect. I just figured to make this post JUST incase one of you have heard of it happening.


If you Google 'bad effects' of anything on the internet you're probably likely to get lots of negative results !

True enough.

Well, thanks guys for clearing that up, now I dont need to worry about meditating and awakening as a brain-dead person lol. ;)

Deshy
19 Jan 11, 05:18
But obviously, no one truly 'stops breathing' when they are meditating, "or you are dead" lol.

Are you sure about that? :dontknow:

Balgore
19 Jan 11, 12:20
But obviously, no one truly 'stops breathing' when they are meditating, "or you are dead" lol.

Are you sure about that? :dontknow:


Well im assuming/hoping so? Thats why I made this thread though... If you think meditation can actually hit a level where all breath stops... Then are you not in risk of rapid cellular destruction (brain damage), and/or death?

Slow breathing, or breaths once every few seconds is not NO breathing....

Deshy
19 Jan 11, 13:45
If you think meditation can actually hit a level where all breath stops... Then are you not in risk of rapid cellular destruction (brain damage), and/or death?

Frankly, I don't really know. I have heard that certain yogi practices are there where breathing completely stops during meditation but that could just be speculation

Deshy
19 Jan 11, 13:58
This is what AB says in his book:


In deep jhana we can experience the breath disappearing altogether with no danger to life.

During my teacher Ajahn Chah's long sickness, he would often stop breathing.On one such occasion the new nurse on duty became alarmed. He knew that Ajahn Chah must die one day, but he didn't want it to happen on his shift! The attendant monks on duty that night assured him that Ajahn Chah had done the same many times before and it was just a sign of deep meditation.


After taking a blood sample the worried nurse has discovered that the oxygon level in his blood was a constant even though he stopped breathing altogether. Apparently during deep meditation the metabolism is so slowed down that the body does not need to breathe.

Quote from page 110 : Mindfulness, bliss and beyond

Esho
19 Jan 11, 14:58
After taking a blood sample the worried nurse has discovered that the oxygon level in his blood was a constant even though he stopped breathing altogether. Apparently during deep meditation the metabolism is so slowed down that the body does not need to breathe.

When one starts to practice zazen you are told to keep concentrated in your breath. Also to have a count of it... one, two, three... As you practice constantly there is a shift from breath as the focus of concentration to forget about breathing and just watching your thoughts. When this happens breathing becomes very very slow. Also you are not aware any more about your breathing or keeping a count on it. So I do not find neither dangerous nor impossible to stop breathing when one reach deep meditative states.

;D

frank
19 Jan 11, 15:16
As we are all living breathing bodies with a certain degree of self-preservation,normally beyond any wilful control l would suggest that it's impossible to asphyxiate ones self

plogsties
19 Jan 11, 20:19
impossible to asphyxiate ones self
Unless some mechanical device is used to prevent breathing this is true. If breathing is prevented voluntarily long enough one loses conciousness at which point non-volitional brainstem drives take over and breathing begins again. Total cessation of breathing, if continued long enough, will lead to death regardless of the degree of metabolic slowdown.

jeremy-r
19 Jan 11, 21:22
Do not worry about going brain dead. If your brain decides it needs more oxygen and there is no other extenuating cause for the lack of oxygen then your resperations will speed up or deepen or at worse you will pass out and awaken just fine moments later. Your body has many checks and balances. Continue your meditation, it will only help you. If your wondering I have an extensive in EMS.

Deshy
20 Jan 11, 03:11
yea I think there is no need to worry about it because people have been meditating for centuries and I personally have never heard anybody dieing from lack of breathing during meditation. I guess your body will take care of itself. ;)

Pegembara
20 Jan 11, 03:21
When you are in deep sleep the body breathes naturally does it not? The body does what it does naturally without "your" involvement. You do not have full control over your breathing.

Unless the brain is damaged or intoxicated there is no danger.

Deshy
20 Jan 11, 03:52
You do not have full control over your breathing.

Yes, according to books you leave all five sensory involvements after a certain stage in meditation. At that stage your body is out of bounds. It naturally takes care of itself.

Red Thread
21 Jan 11, 16:54
your body is out of bounds.
I like the sound of that. I have tried to talk to people about disengaging the senses, and haven't found a good way to put it until now. During deep meditation, the body is out of bounds.

Mystic1
24 Jan 11, 00:59
When you are in deep sleep the body breathes naturally does it not? The body does what it does naturally without "your" involvement. You do not have full control over your breathing.

Actually, it's not true that the body continues breathing uninterrupted when asleep. Sleep studies have shown that everyone stops breathing repeatedly during sleep. Some people never notice, and just roll over and go back to sleep when their body wakes them up due to lack of oxygen. Others stay awake and have trouble getting back to sleep. Sleep apnea is part of the human condition, according to sleep experts. Even children have some degree of sleep apnea.

Deshy
24 Jan 11, 04:06
Sleep studies have shown that everyone stops breathing repeatedly during sleep. Some people never notice, and just roll over and go back to sleep when their body wakes them up due to lack of oxygen.

Wow I didn't know that. Thanks for the infor

millyone
24 Jan 11, 15:04
Our bodies get on with functioning without any input from us for the majority of the time anyway.