Goodness, how did I miss this? The suppressed startle response of experienced meditator and guinea pig par excellence, Matthieu Ricard, has finally made the move from anecdotal lore to peer-reviewed documentation. This long-coming paper compares the influence of focused attention and open presence meditation, verses two non-meditative states, on the startle response in a Buddhist monk with over four decades of training. Relative to a control population and his own non-meditative states, M. Ricard had reduced physiological and facial markers of this automatic response during meditation. Further, this attenuation was greater during open presence than focused attention practice. This finding is an impressive demonstration of how skillful, top-down control of attention has the power to modulate a phenomena as fast-acting and stimulus-driven as a universal, primitive defensive response.
Via Eileen Cardillo