The Science of Enlightenment with Shinzen Young

Myth: Meditation involves only the mind.

Fact: Meditation has a strong impact on both the body and the mind. Meditation typically shifts breathing from 15 to 5 respirations per minute, reduces oxygen hunger, relaxes the sympathetic nervous system, and shifts EEG activity to the alpha-wave state, to name a few examples.

Myth: The goal of meditation is to withdraw into silence and stillness.

Fact: Silence and stillness are two of many tools to help us cultivate attention, awareness, and discernment. But these gifts are meant to be applied to all life activities.

Myth: Meditation is a self-centered activity that strives for personal happiness and liberation. It leads to passive acceptance of circumstances.

Fact: Meditation is something we do for everyone around us. The world is filled with events that we can respond to with anger, fear, or sadness. If we learn to experience those events and emotions fully and closely—without clinging or aversion or judgment—it improves the way we respond in the objective world, which in turn decreases the occurrence of events in the world that would have caused suffering. When the cycle of suffering in the world is broken, conditions improve. So meditation addresses a deeply hidden vicious cycle in the world which is so prevalent that few see it.

Audio excerpt from Shinzen Young, The Science of Enlightenment

Shinzen Young

Shinzen Young Return to top of page

Shinzen Young became fascinated with Asian culture while a teenager in Los Angeles. Later he enrolled in a PhD program in Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Eventually, he went to Asia a...


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