Meditation on buddha forms improves visual spatial processing

By | November 6, 2009

Especially in Vajrayana (Engl.: Diamond Way) Buddhism, which was primarily transmitted in Tibet and Himalayan countries like Bhutan, meditation on various buddha forms, often confusingly referred to as ‘deities’, plays an important role in formal meditation practice.
In a recent study carried out by researchers in the US, it was shown that meditating on buddha forms as the one seen on the right, enhances visuospatial processing efficiency. Compared to a group of meditators who engaged in a meditation of ‘open presence’, where high levels of distributed attention are maintained without a particular object of attention, meditators who focused on an internally generated visual image of a buddha form, demonstrated a dramatic performance increase in a computerised mental imagery task they completed prior and directly after a meditation session.

Reference: Kozhevnikov M., Louchakova O., Josipovic Z. & Motes M.A. (2009). The enhancement of visuospatial processing efficiency through Buddhist deity meditation. Psychological Science, 20 (5), 645 – 653. [access article online]

© 2009 – 2014, Peter Malinowski. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Meditation on buddha forms improves visual spatial processing

  1. Joy Bose

    This is really interesting. Similar to other studies (mind life institute etc) showing how different kinds of meditation can affect different cognitive functions due to brain plasticity. So not only can you be permanantly happier with regular meditation practice, your cognitive skills will improve too!

    1. Peter Malinowski Post author

      Hello Joy,
      thanks for your comment. Indeed, a happier and more fulfilled life seems possible. When looked at from the perspective of psychological science the understanding would probably be that cognitive skills are one of the prerequisits for higher well being.
      An interesting article by Alan Wallace and Shauna Shapiro (2006) pulls these ideas nicely together.
      They are actually suggesting that we have to achieve a balance in four domains to be in a state of mental balance – leading to exceptional levels of well being. These are conation, attention, cognition and emotion.
      Check it out here: doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.7.690 or directly to the pdf-file: pdf-download

      And yes, quite a lot of the current meditation research has been inspired (sometimes even financially supported) by the mind and life institute 🙂



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