What does this experience mean? I it more than an anecdote burnished and embellished by time? Is this anything more than a psychological trick, a stunt, a novelty?
Does this have any relevance to our day-to-day lives?
I think it does. Two reasons: first anything the brain can do once the mind can with methodical training do again. Second, the situational demonstration of the power of the selfless perspective hints at its potential for transforming our relationship to external reality.
How do we approach this? What is the nature of this methodical training?
• Austin also points out that “Just sitting” practice (Shikantaza) could sensitize the alerting networks of the attentional system, which intertwine with and could thus strengthen the allocentric networks. Knowing this has shifted and benefited my meditation practice.
• I think that the allocentric perspective may be just as fundamental to humans as the egocentric one, but through socialization – especially Western industrial individualistic consumerist socialization – we’ve trained our brains alas in egocentric hegemony. To me this is poignant but also hopeful, in that the allocentric view is native to us and simply needs to be increasingly uncovered and empowered and freed.
Rick Hanson Ph.D. author of Buddha’s Brain.
Even brief exposure to practices designed to increase mindfulness appear to have meaningful effects on brain function. In this video neuroscientist Ward Plumet reviews a recent fMRI study which shows that a brief exposure to MBSR has a measurable effect on brain function.
Hebbe’s Law states that neurons that “neurons that fire together, wire together”. Simply activating a neuronal network strengthens it and makes it easier to activate in the future. Our brains have much greater capacity to adapt to experience, including internal mental experience, than could have been imagined even at the beginning of this new century
Mindfulness is a human trait which can be cultivated. It is a key step in overcoming the inherent tendency of our brains to see the world from an ego-centric perspective, to develop selflessness.