realization, self-realization, enlightenment, nirvana, nibanna, awakening, yoga, meditation, samadhi, dhyana, dharma, dhamma, self-enquiry, kundalini, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Advaita, spiritual, Vedanta, Selflessness, techniques for getting enlightened,          
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Scientists have begun to study what happens to the brain physically when people meditate and get enlightened. This page contains links to sites that provide information in this area.




An Exercise For Reducing Visual Hemispheric Dominance
By Freddie Yam
Yogis have done breathing exercises for years to make the nervous system function symmetrically. Here's a way to do the same thing with vision.

Our reference page on machines, software, music, etc., that help people enter meditative states. Background information, links, and book reviews.


Large site with wide variety of content. Written by professionals, funded by venture capitalists, and advised by scientists.

Neurosciences on the Internet
Extensive directory.

An excellent website at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about synesthesia, a condition in which (for example) sounds seem to have colors, smells seem to have sounds, etc. We include the site here because many advanced meditators perceive similar phenomena. The site includes first-person descriptions of what synesthesia feels like.

Spiritual Neurology
Articles about the physiological correlates of spiritual states, links to consciousness-altering software, and related items. Also has a spiritual aptitude test.




The Effect of Silent Thinking on the Cerebral Cortex

by Sir John Eccles
Eccles was a Nobel prize-winning neurophysiologist and biophysicist before his death in 1997. This paper touches on a number of areas, but we include it here because it summarizes research up to the late 1980s on physical activity in the brain during directed attention, which is the basis of many forms of meditation. One of the findings is that the frontal cortex requires a large blood supply during the awake state, possibly, Eccles writes, because of "all the random thinking in the awake state, which is sometimes referred to as day-dreaming (Ingvar, 1985)." In other words, mental chatter is hard work!

Summary of Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi® Programs
by David Orme-Johnson (editor)
This article gives a brief overview of more than five hundred scientific papers that examine Transcendental Meditation (a traditional Advaitan method of japa meditation which is marketed in a modern way) from physiological, sociological, and psychological perspectives. Many of these papers were written by real scientists and published in respected peer-reviewed journals. A bibliography of the papers is attached. From the official TM website.





Zen and the Brain:
Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness
By James H. Austin, M.D.

The author is both a neuroscientist and Zen practitioner. This huge book (844 large pages) may be the best one so far about mysticism from a scientific point of view. There is a review online here.



by Gordon M. Shepherd

This is a standard text used in medical and graduate schools as an introduction to the physiology and anatomy of the nervous system, the subjects covered by the ancient Indian theory of chakras and nadi. (It's interesting to note that the old theory was developed by Indian physicians at a time when caste laws prohibited them from dissecting or even touching cadavers, discouraging them from pursuing empirical neuroscience.) This book is useful for our purposes because it makes clear that the brain is a mechanism, strengthening our conviction that our mental processes are impersonal and our sense of self is a transiently occurring process. Make sure you get the current edition, because the book has been revised several times. Read more about it here on

by Gordon M. Shepherd (editor)
This volume covers one of the most fascinating areas of current science; it is turning out that individual brain cells are fantastically complicated machines, and each one communicates with up to ten thousand others. Like Shepherd's other book that we recommend here, Neurobiology, this is a standard text used in medical and graduate schools. The difference is that Neurobiology is a general work that provides an overview of both large systems and cellular mechanisms; this book goes into much more detail on the functioning of individual cells and communications between small groups of cells. We recommend both for the same reason: by revealing that the brain is a mechanism, they strengthen our conviction that our mental processes are impersonal and our sense of self is a transiently occurring process. Make sure you get the current edition, because this book has been revised several times. Read more about it here on


This page was published on January 26, 2000 and last revised on February 25, 2000.

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