Constantly these worries – the thoughts do not come any longer to the rest. At some point, stress makes you sick. Buddhist meditation can help. It is also about relaxation. But above all, one learns to deal better with negative feelings.
Chronic stress is perhaps underestimated because it has become so ubiquitous. Many people have the feeling that they are permanently under prere and can no longer find peace. Some seek balance in sports, others in partnership or in the church. Some turn to Buddhism, which for people in the West is more a philosophy of life than a religion. Meditation plays a central role.
At the Buddhist center in Berlin, it's not a Tibetan monk who opens the door, but Nadia Wyder. She gives an introduction to Buddhism once a week, after which they meditate together. The umbrella organization German Buddhist Union (DBU) estimates the number of Buddhists in Germany at about 250,000. The Buddhist center in Berlin, for example, follows the Karma Kagyu lineage, a sub-form of one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The teaching calls itself Diamond Way Buddhism.
One Buddhist practice that stress researchers and therapists are increasingly looking to is mindfulness meditation. "The training of mindfulness is part of all schools", explains Wyder. "We usually hear an inner chatter that we are not even consciously aware of." Meditation is about keeping the mind in one place, for example, by focusing on the breath. "As simple as it sounds, it is difficult." The meditator goes through four phases: focusing, drifting off, noticing the drifting off, refocusing. Thus, over time, he learns to get distance from bad feelings. "One understands that all feelings are transient", says Wyder.
Mindfulness meditation also interests Ulrich Ott of the Bender Institute of Neuroimaging at Giessen University. "Research on this has increased extremely in recent years." The clinical meditation method MBSR has become widespread. "It is derived from the Buddhist tradition, but is ideologically neutral."
Meditation is not just a way to relieve stress – it primarily prevents home-made stress. "Meditation teaches us to notice the drift toward certain thoughts and to respond with equanimity, to let go of the feeling", explains Ott. "It's like gradually extinguishing little flames that want to flare up inside you." There is a kind of gap between stimulus and reaction. "You feel more precisely what is going on inside you, only you have the freedom not to react unconsciously." Ultimately, it's about personal happiness. "Life becomes easier."
Getting to this point at all sounds tedious at first. "The goal of meditation is not relaxation, but liberation and enlightenment", says Buddhist Wyder. "But by working with the mind, you become more relaxed, and that naturally affects the body." Buddhism thus inspires other disciplines as well.
"Buddhist forms of meditation give important impulses via mindfulness in the direction of relaxation procedures and psychotherapy", says Bjorn Husmann of the German Society for Relaxation Techniques. Autogenic training or progressive relaxation therefore seem to have taken a back seat in recent years, the psychotherapist observed.
"The open question is how the experience that the self and the world are not separate affects the brain", explains researcher Ott. In Tibetan monks from the Dalai Lama's entourage, researchers had measured brain waves in a high frequency range that had not been observed in this strength before. "But what enlightenment states are has yet to be explored."