Beyond Consciousness: How Meditators Voluntarily Enter States of Void

Beyond Consciousness: How Meditators Voluntarily Enter States of Void

summary: Experienced meditators can voluntarily induce unconscious states, known as cessation, without the use of drugs. This ability, observed in Tibetan Buddhist practice, allows meditators to experience a temporary emptiness of consciousness, followed by enhanced mental clarity.

The study, conducted in several countries, used electroencephalography (EEG) spectroscopy to objectively measure brain activity during these stopping events. By correlating the meditator’s experience with neuroimaging data, researchers have gained insights into the profound modulation of consciousness that can be achieved through advanced meditation practices.

Key facts:

  1. Experienced meditators can voluntarily enter a state of cessation, temporarily losing consciousness without outside help.
  2. The study analyzed 37 cessation events in an expert meditator across 29 sessions using EEG spectroscopy.
  3. This research opens new horizons for understanding the modulation of consciousness through meditation.

source: BIAL Foundation

A study revealed that experienced meditators are able to voluntarily adjust their state of consciousness during meditation. In other words, they have an extraordinary ability, without the use of drugs, to create a temporary void of consciousness during pauses by extensively modulating brain activity.

In what cases can a person lose consciousness? Anesthesia, concussion, poisoning, epilepsy, seizures, or other fainting/fainting conditions caused by lack of blood flow to the brain can cause complete loss of consciousness. But can unconsciousness be induced without drug use?

In the event known as cessation (or niruda, in Tibetan Buddhist terminology), meditators briefly lose consciousness, but upon waking up again, they are said to experience significant changes in the way their mind works, including a sudden sense of deep mentality. and perceptual clarity.

Matthew Sackett, in collaboration with researchers from Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States, realized that the idea that a meditator has the ability to “turn off” consciousness could have broad implications for our understanding of how perception works, but they also found that previous research on stopping had several limitations, a fact Few experienced meditators have reached the level of meditation at which pauses occur, and pauses are also difficult to predict.

In an article titled “Investigating advanced mindfulness meditation ‘stopping’ experiences using EEG spectroscopy in a densely sampled case study,” which was published in November in the journal NeuropsychologyThe authors reveal that, in this intensive case study, they overcame these challenges by recruiting an expert meditator who reported being able to enter and report multiple cessation events as they arose during repeated meditation sessions.

The researchers used a neurophenomenological approach in which “first-person” descriptions of cessation are linked to objective neuroimaging data. In other words, the expert meditator systematically assessed mental and physiological processes (context, input, event, output, and aftereffects) during her experience, and these assessments were used to group and select events for subsequent electroencephalogram (EEG)-based analysis.

Spectral analysis of the EEG data surrounding the 37 cessation events recorded by the participant in 29 sessions allowed the cessation states to be linked to objective and substantive measures of brain activity related to consciousness and high-level psychological functioning.

According to researcher Matthew Satchett, “These findings provide preliminary evidence of the ability of skilled meditators to voluntarily and profoundly modify their state of consciousness and lay the foundations for further study of these unique states using neuroscientific and other experimental approaches.”

About this Consciousness Research News

author: Press team
source: BIAL Foundation
communication: Press team – BIAL Foundation
picture: Image credited to Neuroscience News

Original search: Open access.
“Investigating ‘off’ experiences of advanced mindfulness meditation using EEG spectroscopy in a densely sampled case study” by Avijit Chaudhary et al. Neuropsychology

a summary

Investigating advanced mindfulness meditation “stop” experiences using EEG spectroscopy in a densely sampled case study.

Mindfulness meditation is a meditative practice derived from Buddhism aimed at developing present-focused, non-judgmental awareness of experience. Interest in mindfulness is growing, and it has been shown to be effective in improving mental and physical health in clinical and non-clinical contexts.

In this report, for the first time, we used electroencephalography (EEG) combined with a neurophenomenological approach to examine the neural signature of “cessation” events, dramatic experiences of complete blackout-like cessation of consciousness, which have been reported to be experienced by meditators with Considerable experience, and is suggested to be evidence of mastery of mindfulness meditation.

We extensively sampled these pauses as experienced by a single advanced meditator (with over 23,000 hours of meditation training) and analyzed 37 pause events collected in 29 EEG sessions between November 12, 2019, and March 11, 2020. Spectral Analyzes For ambient EEG data the cessations showed that these events were characterized by a widespread decrease in alpha power starting about 40 s before their onset, and that this alpha power was at its lowest immediately after the cessation.

A region-of-interest (ROI)-based examination of this finding revealed that alpha suppression showed a linear decrease in the occipital and parietal regions of the brain during the pre-cessation period.

In addition, there were modest increases in theta power of the central, parietal, and right temporal ROIs during the pre-stop time frame, whereas power in the delta and beta frequency bands was not significantly different from the peri-stop conditions.

By linking pauses to objective and intrinsic measures of brain activity (i.e., EEG power) associated with consciousness and higher-level psychological functioning, these findings provide evidence of the ability of experienced meditators to voluntarily modulate their state of consciousness and lay groundwork. To study these unique cases using a neuroscience approach.

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