Meditation; Is It new age bullshit?
I can’t remember the first time I heard about meditation, and I think that’s a testament to the way it is publicly received in mainstream conversation and pop culture. Although attitudes seem to be changing.
When I first heard of it, It must have seemed underwhelming to me that people were promoting sitting still and doing nothing for a period of time. Especially when it is universally reported that we, participants in modern society, have no time. Whose got time to sit still in silence?
Weirder still, meditation proposes that you stop thinking.
It asks the question; Can you allow your mind to be quite?
isn’t it difficult? because the mind seems to be like a monkey, jumping up and down, and jabbering all the time.
Once you’ve learned to think, you can’t stop. silence.
And an enormous number of people
devote their lives to keeping their minds busy. and feel extremely uncomfortable with silence.
When your alone, nobody’s saying anything, there’s nothing to do. ——Alan Watts
In this state you can’t get away from yourself.
I’d say I, personally, have not been fully introduced to meditation. I’ve heard the simple steps from a few different people, but when I follow them through, I run into a problem. You can’t meditate by trying to force your mind to be quite. This is what I notice I do. Thoughts are always behind this attempt at control.
Therefore learning to meditate is not like learning any other skill; which that requires intended intellectual and physical force. But it may be through the process of rigorous practice and repetition beyond intellect that a meditative state can be reached and elevate the work or practice of individuals to amazing heights. Often times artist, writer, actors, etc. say that their best work emerges when they themselves are completely out of the way. They become a witness, as creativity rushes through from something bigger then them.
In a sense it would follow that learning to meditate, and practicing it in your life can raise you to amazing heights.
What does that mean? raise YOU to amazing heights?
It means reaching the point where you no longer exists. And this absence of you.. is merely a way of describing the presence of everything.
So, moving on from that point im going to talk about different
Forms of Meditation;
Meditation can, and has been done in an incredibly diverse number of ways all over the world. As Lucie, an above average meditator i’d say, pointed out to me that meditation was a very personal process that is explicitly different for everybody.
Because of that, and due to my own lack of meditation structure, I’m not sure how this meditation workshop which we intend to try after this will go. But I hope this evening you, at the very least, think more about your tendency to constantly think. And maybe little by little we will all get closer to reaching states of contemplation and stillness.
MANTRA (object focus): Does anyone know what a mantra is?
=A word or sound.
Focusing the attention on a single object during the whole meditation session. This object may be the breath, a mantra, visualization, part of the body, external object, etc. As you advance at this, your ability to keep the flow of attention in the chosen object gets stronger, and distractions become less common and short-lived. Both the depth and steadiness of his attention are developed.
ZEN: Buddhist meditation. It focuses on being seated with a straight back pelvis to neck, mouth closed, eyes lowered focused on the ground three feet in front of you. You focus all your attention on the breath, through the nose. It can help to count each breath, from 10 to 1. When you finish 1, or get lost, start back at 10 again.
this is a type of
MINDFULNESS: Instead of focusing the attention on any one object, we keep it open, monitoring all aspects of our experience, without judgment or attachment. All perceptions, be them internal (thoughts, feelings, memory) or external (sound, smell), are recognized and seen for what they are. It is the process of non-reactive monitoring of the content of experience, from moment to moment, without grabbing on to any one thing.
What does science say?
According to neuroscientists, as you continue to meditate your brain physically changes, even though you’re not aware of it re-shaping itself.
brain scan experiments were conducted, measuring the effect of 8 weeks of meditation practice on beginners
The amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
It’s well-documented that our cortex shrinks as we get older – it’s harder to figure things out and remember things. But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds.
–Sara Lazar neuroscientist at Harvard medical school.
Mindfulness meditation activates the ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system, which is the opposite of the fight or flighty response (Sympathetic vs parasympathetic) this is what helps with stress management.
Research from 183 different studies suggests that mindfulness-meditation practice had an overall positive effect on improving anxiety and stress. Also, research in people with clinical levels of anxiety has found that 90% experience significant reductions in anxiety.
Neuroscientists have also found that, after just 11 hours of meditation practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self control.
I experienced this today after I finished some meditation and started to write this presentation. I was my focused to actually do it so I would have something to talk about, and practiced self control to resist just eating all day.
Researchers have found that compared with the people who didn’t meditate, ‘those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches.
Research with married couples has found (man researchers find everything, guess its a good idea to do that) Married couples found that mindfulness through meditation improved marital quality and communication
Meditation can improve relationship with everyone you meet.
I had this experience on my way back from park peru today after meditation. A man ‘from africa’ stopped me with the gift of a elephant. I already had an elephant which I bought from another guy on ‘Africa Day, for ebola’.
Our conversation was very simple, he was standing very close to me and i could see the white lines around his eyes. I told him I already had a elephant, and he handed me a turtle, ‘long life’ he said. Then what happened surprised me.
I grimaced and pulled out my wallet and told him I wasn’t working. I discovered 70c was all I had on me and it felt like a poor trade for my most symbolic (travel) animal.
He handed it to me and this time actually meant what he said, “donner”
I refused, he replied
“Je temp toi” and walked away.
Now back to the science put simply;
You become more comfortable with yourself, which makes it easier for other to get on with you, and you find it easier to accept them as they are.
Research had found, again, that meditation promotes ‘divergent thinking’, a type of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated.
studies on cognitive rigidity (an inability to think of different possible solutions to a problem) concluded:
“that mindfulness meditation reduces cognitive rigidity via the tendency to be ‘blinded’ by experience” (2012 Leiden University)
Mindfulness also affects awareness and the filtering out of other mental processes during creative tasks.
Mindfulness practice improved “insight” problem solving, which is seeing and solving problems in a novel way. (2012 University of Groningen)
That sounds like something that needs to be field tested. Ive presented you with some information about forms of meditation and the benefits found through science. But the only test of mediation that has any real value for any of you, is your own experience. Try it. Know that it takes practice, consistency, and patience with yourself.