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Superhuman Brain Waves

Dan Goleman | 3:31


My co author of the book altered traits is a neuroscientist Richard Davidson. He has a lab at the University of Wisconsin. He has a very large lab. He has dedicated scanners, he has about 100 people working there. 

And he was able to do some remarkable research where he flew a Olympic level meditators who live in Nepal or India, typically, some in France, he flew him over to the lab, and put them through a protocol in his brain scanners and did state of the art tests. And the results were just astounding. 

We found, for example, or he found that the brainwaves are really different. Perhaps the most remarkable finding in the Olympic level meditators has to do what's called a gamma wave. All of us get gamma for a very short period when we solve the problem we've been grappling with. Even if it's something that's vexed us for months, we get about half second of gamma. It's the strongest wave in the EEG spectrum. 

We get it when we bite into an apple or imagine biting into Apple. And for a brief period, a split second, inputs from taste, sound, smell, vision, all of that come together in that imagined bite into the apple. But that lasts very, very short period, in an ordinary EEG. What was stunning was at the Olympic level meditators, these are people who've done up to 62,000, lifetime hours of meditation, their brainwave shows gamma very strong all the time, as a lasting trait, just no matter what they're doing. 

It's not a state effect. It's not during their meditation alone, but it's just their everyday state of mind, we actually have no idea what that means experientially, science has never seen it before. We also find that in these Olympic level meditators, when we ask them, for example, to do a meditation on compassion, their level of gamma jumps seven to 800%. If you say seconds, this has also never been seen by science. 

So we have to assume that the special state of consciousness that you see in the highest level meditators is a lot like something described in the classical meditation literature's literature centuries ago, which is that there is a state of being which is not like our ordinary state. You know, sometimes it's called liberation, enlightenment, awake, whatever the word may be. We suspect there's really no vocabulary that captures what that might be.

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