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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Meditation = Brain Sit Ups

Yesterday I read that meditation can increase your brain size. At first I thought that was amazing, and that if you meditated every day, your brain might get thicker and heavier, causing you to become brilliant. But when I read the full article, it turns out that meditation only enhances a small portion of the brain.

It’s like doing an exercise and focusing on one particular muscle. In the brain, the location where meditation mainly occurs will over time accumulate more cells, and become thicker (barely, but that is still significant). However, the benefit is pretty much contained therein.

The results aren’t to be written off entirely. I was pleased to read that the simple form of meditation that was practiced by monks could be used by anyone to enhance a certain aspect of their lives, as well as the brains.

It’s called insight meditation. Apparently, you lie down and close your eyes, and think of nothing, while focusing your attention on sensory input -- “whatever’s there.” So if you feel some tension in your neck, you focus on that. If you feel an odd tingling in your side, you focus on that. If you don’t experience any sensory input, you simply focus on your breathing.

This technique relies on areas in the brain responsible for focus, attention, and memory. Monks that been doing this for years have a great deal of skill built up in that area. An average person who has been doing this for a little while typically seems to report greater ease handling complicated situations that might have seemed overwhelming before. So maybe if you practice insight meditation, you’ll be able to keep focused on an urgent task, even when all hell breaks loose around you. Pretty cool.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Immortality And Relationships

Today I wondered about what it would be like to live forever, and not be tied down by sterility. In the Highlander movie saga, our heroes usually couldn’t bear children. I realized that this makes a lot of sense. If you still have the urge to reproduce, and are fertile, you run the risk of dating your great, great, great grandchild in a few hundred years. That did not appeal to me.

Then I realized that’s where marriage comes In. If you can find a suitable partner who happens to be a mortal, marry them and make sure your relationship lasts forever, in fact as long as you both shall live. Even if that’s 100,000 years.

That way, if you produce offspring, you don’t necessarily need to keep track of bloodlines in order to avoid the risk of unwanted intermingling.

The show New Amsterdam was in my thoughts when I contemplated this issue, because the protagonist had obviously sired more than one child. So who’s to say he doesn’t have great grand children running around? It could become a very complicated situation if an immortal had many, many children. At least marriage offers a sort of solution.

And then, for those of us who die, what happens if in a thousand years you meet a soul in the afterlife who you find to be attractive? What if the soul is that of your deceased great, great (etc.) grandchild? I guess the rules are different for souls. Maybe there’s a sort of fusion that happens there, a combination of souls, as opposed to a creation of “offspring” souls. That seems to make more sense to me, although I’ll bet it’s far more complex.

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