We posited in one recent class that the Kol Nidre service was best understood as a brilliant Jewish meditation of compassion, expressed in the scribal idiom of rabbis. Needless to say that needs to be explained at greater length, as we will do in our forthcoming article on the subject.
Meanwhile back at the New York Times in January, scientific reductionism was running rampant. Meditation was described as having measurable benefits for the brain in a "Well" blog post on the subject, "How Meditation May Change the Brain" by SINDYA N. BHANOO, saying for instance,
...those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. The findings will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.We do deserve more sensitive treatments of religious practice than it appears that the Times can offer up.
M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes...more...