Last modified: Feb 18, 2017
Meditation, Mindfulness & the Medicine Buddha
A common Buddhist view is that there are 9 systems each with its own
organizing principle. They can be divided into sutrayana, tantrayana and
vajrayana. [also somewhat separated into body, energies and mind]. They
may also be separated into 1) soothing attachment through renunciation;
2) soothing aversion through purification by compassion; 3) blending
wisdom and emptiness (free from conceptual elaboration) through
transformation; or, 4) Dzogchen, the ‘great perfection’ manifested when
one recognizes the lack of need for renunciation, purification and/or
transformation in the liberation of pure non-symbolic awareness. This is a
state of total relaxation. This requires first pacification then harmonization
of acts of body, energy cycles and mind. Where I have used the words
‘energy cycles’ most texts use the word speech or voice. For example, it is
said ‘If one wants to become fully awake in this very lifetime then right
now why not start engaging in the acts of body, voice and mind of the
awakened ones’. I believe the Sanskrit root ‘buddh’ means awakened.
The self that needs to practice renunciation, purification and
transformation is the unnatural narrative self. It is an habitual elaboration
of the mind (marigpa) but is not the radiant and aware natural mind
(rigpa). In Dzogchen, sometimes, when the student is ready, the
experience of the natural mind, rigpa, can be pointed out during training.
In Dzogchen training there may be an emphasis on 1) being aware of
one’s own fundamental state, and 2) relaxing all unnecessary and
contrived acts of body, energy and mind. The evolutionary need for these
two conditions can be predicted by the constructal law of physics. They
also are very suited for technology-assisted self-regulation / self-
realization (TASR) as can be seen by the popularity of bio and
Many approaches to meditation and mindfulness describe two aspects of
training - tranquility and insight. These are named shamatha and
vipassana. My model suggests technical and training considerations for
TASR for Tranquility
The tranquility here comes from profound relaxation of body, energy and
mind that comes from deep awareness of flow. During such periods
accompanied by highly efficient and synchronized EEG there can be a
genome wide upregulation away from sickness behavior .
In my section on sickness behavior [SBeh] I more fully discuss the
illustration on the left that was adapted
from Schulman, Llinas, et al 2011.
In the healthy control EEG (CON green)
there is no inefficient increase in either
slow or fast activity. This satisfies the
Constructal Law of Physics analysis
(CLaw). There is also a narrow control
frequency at 10 Hz. The other lines show
depressive disorder (DD), schizophrenia
spectrum disorder (SSD) and obsessive-
compulsive disorder (OCD). All 3 of these
types of sickness behavior show
inefficient increases in low and high frequency activity, plus loss of a well-
defined control frequency that we discuss elsewhere.
Standard quantitative EEG instruments such as the cascading spectral
display used during routine neurofeedback offer the trainee the ability to
guide the brain and EEG toward this “norm” of efficient and effective
processing. This is usually best obtained as the trainee learns to quiet
narrative processing of past and future and attend to naked awareness
free from conceptual elaboration. It is common to see sudden elevations
in beta power with a return to habitual rumination. This can be a first step
in EEG biofeedback to assist in training tranquility. It is often combined
with heart rate variability (HRV) training featuring the spectral display.
Similar to the curves shown above, the HRV power spectrum should show
a single peak at 0.1 Hz (=6/min) reflecting the Meyer-Traube-Herring
wave. Failure to regulate very low and high frequencies in the HRV
spectrum can lead to dysregulation of theta and alpha in the EEG. Theta
and alpha EEG synchrony is a characteristic of a number of common
meditative states. TAG Sync training encourages regulation reduced
power consumption, dependable control frequency (10 Hz), synchrony, as
well as the cross-frequency coupling (CFC) between theta, alpha and
gamma that is the hallmark of consciousness , intelligence , and
insight . Such improvements in efficiency are also seen in consumption
of psychedelics  and in some professional healers enter a healing mode
TASR for Insight
Buddha taught that one of the first skills obtained as a result of successful
meditation is the ability to know what others need in order to avoid
suffering. However, this knowledge is non-discursive, free from conceptual
The figure to the below shows how the amplitudes of theta (4-8 Hz) and
gamma (around 40 Hz and above) change over a period of 6 seconds.
Note that at some places, such as that at 5 seconds, there is a
simultaneous (synchronous) burst in amplitude of both theta and gamma
during problem solving. The ability to increase the synchronous
movement of these amplitude envelopes is related to the level of
What we are seeing here is the process of problem solving. The creation
of a solution - an ‘aha’ moment of synchrony - increases the possibilities
and thus the complexity of the situation.
What we see here is synchrony in the very act of harnessing
complexity. The Constructal Law of Physics predicts
evolutionary increase in complexity. In fact the normal
EEG increase in complexity during maturation.
Maturation without such evolution in complexity is
The ability to gracefully increase synchronous behavior
of body, energy and mind can sometimes be
upregulated as easily by environmental enrichment as it can be down
regulated by chronic social defeat, chronic predator stress, inflammation
The ability to harness complexity through synchronization requires the
freeing of the inefficient energy habitually dissipated by the EEG (as seen
in sickness behavior in the section above on tranquililty).
You can read more about the envelopes instrument shown above in the
section on cross-frequency coupling [CFC].
The Awake Nature of the mind and the EEG
It is useful to remember the root word ‘buddh’ in Sanskrit refers to the
awakened state. An important discussion in European clinical
electroencephalography has been carefully described by Ulrich . Many
types of inefficiency and sickness behavior are accompanied by intrusions
of sleep-like states in the EEG.
They have observed for decades that the EEG (even just 4 channels) is a
very sensitive indicator of global cerebral functioning. Like the pulse in
medicine it can reliably demonstrate a reversal of sickness behavior, even
though differential diagnosis might be incomplete. Using EEG biofeedback
the meditator can recognize excursions into the inefficient EEG patterns
that accompany intrusions of sleep or sickness behavior.
It is often easy to detect the moment in which the radiant mind is lost in
the narrative fiction of the wandering mind. Neurofeedback practitioners
are in a perfect position to see such state changes. The appearance of
sudden beta on the QEEG spectral display is often associated with
rumination, catastrophization, etc.
Eyes closed versus eyes open in meditation and
Amihai et al 2014 studied the changes in cognitive functions following
eyes closed Theravadin meditation and eyes opened Vajrayana
meditation. They state, “The results of Study 1 show that both focused
(Shamatha) and distributed (Vipassana) attention meditations of the
Theravada tradition produced enhanced parasympathetic activation
indicative of a relaxation response. In contrast, both focused (Deity) and
distributed (Rig-pa) meditations of the Vajrayana tradition produced
sympathetic activation, indicative of arousal.”
There was “an immediate dramatic increase in performance on cognitive
tasks following only Vajrayana styles of meditation, indicating enhanced
phasic alertness due to arousal.” “...Theravada and Vajrayana
meditations are based on different neurophysiological mechanisms, which
give rise to either a relaxation or arousal response.” 
TAG Sync can be done eyes closed and reclined with the goal to increase
levels of relaxation.
TAG Sync and live complexity training were specifically developed to been
done eyes open with goal of experiencing embodied awareness efficiently
free from conceptual elaboration.
The original TAG Sync for Nexus software since 2010 has had heart rate
variability on screen with EEG. In other systems it is convenient to have
EmWave Pro running in a separate window. In the beginning attention is
directed toward posture, balance and breathing.
TAG Sync can be used during meditation as a reminder of relaxation of
body (EMG), energy (HRV), and mind (EEG).
During live complexity training (LCT) the state accompanying the EEG
may become the object of meditation itself. This is made possible largely
by the use of the “Quiet Reward” - the salience of silence. This is also the
basis of its efficiency in couples and group TASR sessions.
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