Yeah, But Can Tibetan Monks Stifle the Startle Reflex During An Eye Exam?

Several months ago I came across a study in which a Tibetan Monk, in meditation, was able to control the startle reflex when a gun was fired nearby. This was the first example of someone controlling what was thought to be an automatic physiological response. (Although this is not where I first heard about it, you can read about this inthis article, The Lama in the Lab at Shambala Sun).

It’s pretty cool that he can suppress the startle reflex when a gunshot goes off, but I have a new test for that monk: The eye puff test you get during your annual eye exam. I had my exam today and thought about that monk as I placed my chin in the cradle, preparing for that innocuous puff of air. I thought, “Hey, if he can do it for a gunshot, I can do it for a silly little puff of air on the eye.”

Not a chance. Even with the technician counting down and preparing me, I was completely startled each time.

Oh well. I guess I still have a ways to go!

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