Unruly Angels, Burning Saints, and Meditation Alternatives

Week of May 5, 2014 we look at news and reviews of the benefits of meditation, laughter, and breathing practices. Then, link to unruly angels, burning saints, and more.

The Fall of the Rebel Angels, Pieter Bruegel il Vecchio, 1562, photo by loungerie on Flickr
The Fall of the Rebel Angels, Pieter Bruegel il Vecchio, 1562, photo by loungerie on Flickr

NEWS


As Good as Meditation: 3 Alternatives to Cultivate a Calmer Mind, SHAPE, Mind and Body, 30 Apr 2014.

Three alternatives to meditation, say McGill University researchers: 1) Laugh more. Joyful laughter triggers same brain waves as meditation states. 2) Take a deep breath. Meditation often uses breath and breathing techniques to calm the mind. 3) Press and play more. Intensely emotional music (anything that gives you chills) causes your brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine that meditation can release.

silly kidLaughter, the best meditative medicine. Los Angeles Times, 10, May 2014.  

New LA Times article for same study we discussed last week, Laugh Your Way Into Meditative States.

Behavioral training reduces inflammation: Research subjects suppress immune responses using physical conditioning. Nature, 5 May 2014.

Breathing Deeply May Actually Boost Your Body’s Immune System: The power of the trained mind over the body is truly an amazing thing. Smithsonian, 8 May, 2014.

Great that people are discovering benefits of body and mind disciplines! Could meditation have similar benefits as other programs of discipline, endurance, and training? See also Pseudoscience Aside: What Are Three Major Benefits of Meditation? and The Rise of Superman: Finding Your Flow, Your Ultimate Creative, Athletic Self.

Major Christian Conference Accused of ‘Pushing Mysticism’:  Controversial prayer technique at evangelical gathering. WND Faith, 5 May, 2014.

Evangelical Christians practicing yoga meditation? They call it “centering prayer“. Apparently, the controversy for some fundamental Christians, is any form of meditation is considered “evil” and of Satan.

Firewalkers in village Balgari, Bulgaria
Firewalkers in village Balgari, Bulgaria

PODCASTS


Burning Saints, Fire-Walking Rituals of the Anastenaria, Interview with Dimitris Xygalatas, Religious Studies Podcast, 28 Apr 2014.

Mystical and trance rituals compel the Anastenaria, Greek Orthodox Christians, to walk on fire while holding sacred relics of Saints.

“Unruly Angels”: An Interview with Ingvild Gilhus, The Religious Studies Podcast, 21 Apr 2014.

New Age spirituality treats angels as personal guardians, or embodiments of the “higher self“. Whereas in Biblical tradition angels are strictly impersonal messengers of god. Perhaps popular beliefs about angels act as a bridge to New Age spirituality and the idea of astral beings?

Science and Skepticism with Michael Shermer, The Humanist Hour Podcast #97

If you are new to skepticism, Michael Shermer, and this podcast interview is a great start and listen.

ESSAY/BLOG


Dark Mysticism: Tragic Heroism and Fear of the Undead God, Rants Within the Undead God: Philosophy and Religion for Outsiders. 1 May 2014.

A heroic rant about optimistic mystics, Eckart Tolle, and the nature of mind.

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