Dr. Benson has been conducting research with the Dalai Lama since 1979. The Dalai Lamai is very much interested in science and engineering. If it were not for his position as His Holiness for Tibetan Monks, he says that he would have preferred to become an engineer.
Tibetan monks have taken the potential of meditation to the extreme. In one study monks dressed in nothing but small loincloths are draped in wet sheets while exposed to near-freezing temperatures. Because these monks had developed amazing physiological control over years of practicing this type of heat-producing meditation, they experienced no distress in these conditions. Within minutes the body temperatures they produced steamed and dried the wet, cold sheets.
Of course, these results were not obtained by the monks meditating for 20 minutes twice a day. Meditation for many hours over many years is needed to obtain these results. But they do demonstrate the control the mind can have over the body.
Usually a precaution is given that motivation should not be involved when meditating. That is, no goals are to be achieved. Noting this and noting the performance of these Tibetan Monks Dr. Benson developed the two-step process. First the Relaxation Response is invoked. Then, when the mind is quiet, when focusing has opened a door to your mind, visualize an outcome that is meaningful. If you want to eliminate a pain, envision yourself without the pain. If you want t improve your performance in a particular venue, imagine yourself performing well in these venues. According to Dr. Benson, “Whatever your goal, these two steps can be powerful, allowing anyone to reap the benefits of the Relaxation Response and take advantage of a quiet mind to rewire thoughts and actions in desired directions.
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