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Release

Meditation / Meditating

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Good morning,

Let me give you a brief background of my philosophical studies. At age 16 (after being raised in a Seventh Day Adventist family) I strived to become a preacher and studied avidly with my pastor at the moment and ended up giving several sermons to the congregation. I then moved to the city of Jacksonville, FL and because of my teen years I branched from the church and started looking towards more sensical theological/philosophical ventures such as Buddhism and other introspective disciplines.

As I got older I started to see how ridiculous and corrupt any form of Religion is. And I started to break myself from those concepts. It was almost a natural progression. The concept of God seemed absurd as reality started setting in. It wasn't logical. I then got back into a very specific Buddhist practice which is "Vipassanna Meditation". Vipassanna is a meditation for one purpose only, and that purpose is personal awareness through clearing your mind. It doesn't suggest you'll find god, it doesn't suggest you'll understand the mystic concepts of the life, it just allows you to become aware of yourself and the world you live in. Its also explained with a parable of the cup of muddy water. How could you see through it untill you let the mud settle. Vipassanna explains that when you clear your mind of fear, negativity, and personal concepts you've built out of emotion you are able to integrate reality more effectively.

After I started on my Vipassanna journey I found extreme benefits immediately with the amount of true positivity in any situation and clearer understanding of everything around me at any given time.

I've recently become aware of Ayn Rand (see my other post on my 'new discovery') and it has accelerated my personal capacity for success more in 1 month than anything else I've subscribed to, but I personally feel that if I didn't do the vipassanna meditation I wouldn't of grasped these objectivist concepts as easy as I did.

From what I understand from what I've read of Dr. Peikoff and Ayn Rand, the concept of Meditation seems to be regarded as a "mystic" form of knowledge. I havn't read everything i should yet from the objectivist's library but I feel that I wouldn't of gotten to where I'm at now without the Awareness meditation of clearing my mind. I will have to say though, I havn't meditated in several weeks and I still feel aware as I did when I was meditating a lot.

Has anyone experienced similiar effects with a form of meditation, either it be your own way of clearing ones mind to find clarity through reality, or the traditional concept of meditation? And would you think that its easy to uproot the mystic filled childhood of guilt and fear through just objectivism alone?

Thanks in advance!

~Michael

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(This is just an impersonal analysis of meditation, Release, it is not aimed directly at you.)

The forms of meditation that I know about all seek one objective: a content less state of consciousness. If you understand the Objectivist principle of "the primacy of existence," you know that this is impossible. Consciousness is dependent on existence for its content. Every state of consciousness--both on the perceptual and on the conceptual levels--is an awareness of reality. This is a metaphysical fact and as such it cannot be changed or denied; it is part of your nature as a sentient being.

There are no clear (i.e., content less) states of consciousness. The closest that one can get to this "ideal" is unconsciousness through, for example, sleep or a coma. Thus, seeking to "clear your mind" by reducing it to a zero is not a good idea (except at night when you're tired).

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(This is just an impersonal analysis of meditation, Release, it is not aimed directly at you.)

The forms of meditation that I know about all seek one objective: a content less state of consciousness. If you understand the Objectivist principle of "the primacy of existence," you know that this is impossible. Consciousness is dependent on existence for its content. Every state of consciousness--both on the perceptual and on the conceptual levels--is an awareness of reality. This is a metaphysical fact and as such it cannot be changed or denied; it is part of your nature as a sentient being.

There are no clear (i.e., content less) states of consciousness. The closest that one can get to this "ideal" is unconsciousness through, for example, sleep or a coma. Thus, seeking to "clear your mind" by reducing it to a zero is not a good idea.

I understand what you are saying completely. I never thought of it as reducing it to zero (although that is what some of the traditionalist vipassannas teach), I was using it as a mere tool for clarity and FOCUS. I'm a young man who is now coming into the concept of discipline and concentration. I feel that both of those qualities are necessary (for me) to succeed with a rational mind. Vipassanna gave those qualities to me (before I found objectivism) and helped me deal with previous suppressed emotions (or emotions that has changed my views on the world in an irrational way or a destructive way). Then with the application of Objectivism it has bolstered my ability to be aware and thus I dont feel I need meditation anymore.

In essence, I feel that this form of meditation for me is what I needed at that time to understand my personal awareness and to gain control over my concentration and focus. After applying an integrated understanding of objectivism (of what I've learned so far) I've exceeded far beyond my vision of capability in a short period of time, so I would have to question the very foundation that ALL forms of meditation can and should be discredited as mystic and non helpful.

On the other side of things, I see people who validate their prosperous life on the basis of christianity and I find that their claim that "God" granted them what they've earned as a falicy. I know that christianity is a destructive force 90% of the time, so I could see how all mysticism could be lumped together (including meditation).

This is where my dillema is...if knowledge is used in an objective way or techniques are used in an objective way, then how could they damage the foundation of your personal view of objectivism?

Looking forward to your responses.

~Michael

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I was using it [Vipassanna meditation] as a mere tool for clarity and FOCUS.

Anyone can sit down and contemplate stuff for "clarity" and "focus." That is called thinking. How is this Vipassanna different from thinking?

My problem with meditation is that it is traditionally used for some mystical purpose--to reach a state of nirvana, for example. Without this purpose, meditation becomes mere thinking or reflecting.

I think and reflect on the world while taking a shower. Shall I invent a form of meditation called Showerassanna?

The mere act of meditating will not lead you to any particular understanding about the world, either. It all depends on what you choose to think about while you meditate.

I'm sure a mass murderer meditates on very different subjects than you.

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The forms of meditation that I know about all seek one objective: a content less state of consciousness

I think this is incorrect, though a fairly common misconception. Many forms of meditation claim to be geared towards heightening self-awareness, concentration, and a person's general focus.

Release - often 'mystical' techniques actually work, although for different reasons than their practitioners believe. African tribes believed that their shaman had 'magic powers' which let him cure tribesmen through the use of plants. They were correct that the plants used did have healing powers, but obviously their explanation of why this is so was incorrect. Practitioners of the i-ching system of 'reading the future' believe their insights are mystical, but the process involved (finding patterns in yarrow sticks) isnt all that different in theory from Rorschach inkblot tests, which are a standard in Western psychology. People who strongly believe that God will cure them of their diseases are often more likely to recover than those that don't - not because of any divine intervention, but because of the placebo effects of their optimism (this is the standard explanation for 'faith healing').

The fact that a technique is justified by irrationality does not mean that it doesnt work - there may well be a completely acceptable scientific explanation for it. If you get beneficial effects from meditation, I would advise you to continue doing it.

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I think this is incorrect, though a fairly common misconception. Many forms of meditation claim to be geared towards heightening self-awareness, concentration, and a person's general focus.

And just how do they suggest that you go about attaining these things? O sure, some forms of meditation involve an "object" of meditation but really all they mean is to listen to your breath or to repeat a mantra. As far as I'm concerned, this type of activity is just one step removed from sleep. The essence of my analysis stands.

I'm not saying that one shouldn't relax. One can be in complete focus while simply sitting on the floor cross-legged thinking of nothing at all. There is a time and a place to "quiet" your mind and to not think at all. This is only proper, however, in contrast to a much greater amount of productive mental activity. The naked, dreadlocked sadhu is not the model of a controlled mind. Dagney Taggert, laid slack on the couch thinking of nothing in particular, is. When you meditate, ask yourself which of these ideals you are emulating.

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I think you're doing just fine and I would encourage you to oontinue in the direction you are going, approaching the various questions you are raising in a first-handed way which you appear to be doing anyway.

As to "meditation" or various other relaxation technigues, if they are helpful in getting in touch with repressed emotions or even just merely to unwind if you are under great stress, I don't know why they would necessarily be invalid if used rationally, i.e. not as some kind of mystical program.

Fred Weiss

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There are a great many ideas in religion which a rational person could claim to be of value. I like the idea of the body as a temple, and I agree that no man can serve two masters, and that one should never bury one's talents or hide his light under a bushel. (Even Leonard Peikoff approvingly quoted Christ's statement about a man gaining the world and losing his soul in OPAR.)

While I'm on a roll here, I also want to say that I agree that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, that religion is the opiate of the masses, and that the noble soul has reverence for itself — this last being a quote from Nietzsche which Ayn Rand was originally going to use to introduce The Fountainhead.

More precisely, I should say that I agree in a sense with all of these statements; "in a sense" because one has to take them completely out of context — to divorce them from the mistaken philosophies which they represent — and consider them in a way not originally intended in order for them to have real meaning and value. (AR ultimately dropped the Nietzsche quote for this very reason.)

I live in Los Angeles, where yoga is extremely popular. Many people I know have told me that yoga relaxes them, makes them more physically flexible, and increases their overall health and happiness. Apparently there is no religious or mystical connection at all for these people. Maybe yoga does, in fact, achieve all of what they say. That doesn't change the fact that the original, primary purpose of yoga was not to limber anyone up, but to bring the soul closer to Nirvana. It also doesn't mean that maybe there is some validity to Eastern mysticism after all.

(I often buy a kind of bread which, according to the package, is made from a recipe found in the Old Testament. I'm still waiting for my religious experience to kick in while eating it — meanwhile, I'm enjoying some damn good bread.)

I imagine that one could find a great deal of value in certain kinds of meditation, for much the same reason that people find value in pursuing hobbies, watching TV, and taking naps and vacations. Life is hectic and hard; we need a break. We need to rest and relax. We need to be able to focus intensely at times, and to let go completely at others. None of these are religious or mystical concepts; they're all part of living a successful, rational, objective life on earth.

As long as you are ripping the practice out of context — i.e., you're not doing it as part of a mystical quest, or out of religious duty, or in an effort to shut off your mind totally and permanently, I doubt there is much danger of you being unable to return to reality and to lead a rational life after the experience is over.

Enjoy your journey, and don't give yourself guilt. You sound like you're on the right track.

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Thank you all for your very objective views on the subject. I think everyone can see what I was trying to convey with my discription of meditation (vipassanna), except for Bowzer.

I would like to address the fundamental concept behind Vipassanna meditation because there seems to be some misunderstanding. Vipassanna is the process of clearing your mind by focusing on your breath, this is all. Think of it as the "count to 10" method when you're angry. When you focus on your breath and clear your mind then the "mud" clears and you are able to relax, focus, and be able to integrate your reality more effectively when you stand up and carry on with your day.

Now, I havn't meditated in about a month and I don't feel like I've lost anything in NOT meditating recently, but that is because I've applied the calming, focus techniques to my daily life (what is known as walking meditation in Vipassanna).

I respect your view completely Bowzer but I felt it was necessary to clear up the understanding of this particular meditation that is practiced in certain buddhist cultures. Because there is a lot of misinformation and unknowns. I am also not one who believes that you can achieve a "higher knowledge" by meditating or channeling or feng shui or astrology, etc etc...but I do find logical validity in certain practices within the buddhist culture.

In a whole, I do not feel that ALL religion is bad, based on the fact of the evil of altruism or the corruption of leaders. I do believe the bible (even with it's contradictions) can be a wonderful moral guide. Also, most buddhists that I've met are some of the most wonderfully interesting people in the world, so in no way am I implying that there is a ONE type of living and that ONE type is objectivism, but I feel the personalization of your experience applied with the TOOL of objectivism will have an end result of ultimate happiness and success. It would be irrational to think otherwise unless it is clear that the person is still holding on to 'dangerous' mystic concepts (the lords will, giving it to god, attainment of elightenment via meditation etc etc.)

~Michael

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After browsing through some of these self-help topics, I started to think that some may be interested in meditation. Being Objectivists, some may instantly cringe when they hear the word "meditate," but hopefully I can shed some light on what that term really means and if it has any practical purposes.

As this thread is lengthy, I've highlighted the main points in bold. Please feel free to skim through it.

Anyhow, here we go.

First and foremost, what is meditation?

Dictionary.com defines meditation as, " A contemplative discourse, usually on a religious or philosophical subject." But to elaborate and give it my own definition, meditation is a state of being that allows for one to focus completely on oneself, be it body, mind or a combination of both, while deliberately or passively negating all outside disturbances.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation does not always involve clearing the mind and sitting like a duck on a log; in fact, there are many different forms of meditation, some more active than others. For instance, when an NBA player has the ball in his hands with three seconds left on the shotclock, and he needs to score in order to win the game, I consider him to be in a meditative state--he is focused completely on the task at hand, the noise of the crowd is not heard, and the only thought running through his head is, "how do I score in three seconds?"

When an unintoxicated man is able to ignite his whole body on fire without emitting an expression of pain, I consider him to be in a meditative state.

What are some purposes for meditation?

When you first begin to meditate, the primary virtue you will be learning and practicing is self-discipline (and patience :D ). The self-discipline that you procure from meditation can be applied to any part of your life--whether it be sticking to a diet, a workout schedule, or any other motivational task. Without self-discipline, your life is more likely to be a wreck.

Once you're able to sit down peacefully and not think, "oh my God, I'm sitting down doing nothing, whatever shall I do!" your are able to move on to other benefits of meditation, such as body awareness.

Also, you should find that your levels of concentration increase exponentially with practice.

Body awareness allows you to keenly focus in on aspects of your body that may hold tension, pain, or soreness. I like to encorporate body awareness into the beginning of my meditation because it allows me to release or at least be aware of any somatic aberrations--thus allowing me to be more relaxed and more focused.

The mind, just like the body after great exertion, needs rest. After practicing meditation for a while, you will learn that it becomes easier to maintain a sense of void in the mind--or what I like to call, ultimate mind relaxation. Don't confuse this with refusing to think; it is simply resting the mind as you would the body after a marathon.

If there is an aspect of your life or a thought you would like to change, meditation can help. By inventing your own mantra (a phrase that you incessantly repeat while in the meditative state), you can accomplish a revamping of the subconscious, AKA the infamous but usually misunderstood, brainwash. I'm not sure that's an appropriate title for what I'm about to describe, especially since it carries a negative connotation, but it shall suffice. For instance, pretend you have an important speech to give in the upcoming week yet you are somewhat nervous---you could come up with a mantra such as, "I know what I want to say and I am confident saying it, therefore I will not be nervous," through repetition of this phrase in the meditative state, it should be helpful in boosting your confidence.

The idea above uses the same principle as telling yourself you are confident and then actually being confident--in other words, believing you are confident presupposes having confidence. In some instances, I think the meditative state can be better than a normal state of consciousness for self-affirmation.

Those are the most important benefits that meditation has to offer that I can conjure up.

(There are other things you can do with meditation, such as guided imagery, but unless anyone is genuinely interested, I'm going to omit it since I don't find it to be as useful as the ideas above.)

How does one go about meditating?

To successfully meditate, one should be in loose clothing (this isn't absolutely necessary, but it helps) and in a suitable environment--that is, an environment with minimal distractions and a sense of isolation. Then, get into a position that is comfortable but doesn't block or slow the flow of blood to the body. I prefer a seated position where both my legs are tucked under my butt with two pillows between them. These pillows prevent any unnecessary stress on the knees and allow bloodflow to the feet. (To see an image of this positioning go to this link http://www.aikidoonline.com/Archives/2000/...tmr_10_13.html). Any position that's comfortable with your spine aligned will do.

After you are situated, define what you want out of the meditation and go from there. (See the above section on the purposes of meditation)

If you're a beginner, I'd suggest taking a few minutes to perform a body scan. Become aware of how your body feels, where you may be holding tension. How's your posture? Are you sitting on your pelvic bones? Are you slouching? Does it feel like your shoulders are level, or is one higher than the other? Is your tongue pressed against the roof of your mouth? Can you feel the soles of your feet on the floor?

Depending on what your meditational purposes are, the next step could be to clear your thoughts, sometimes referred to as grounding. You'll come to find that your thoughts are all over the place...this is normal; don't let it deter you from focusing and continuously practicing. If you've ever watched a thunderstorm, saw the lightning strike, and then waited in absentmindedness for the sound of the bolt, that's basically the same mental state you are striving for when you're clearing your thoughts; it's almost a mental state of anticipation.

Once you are able to clear your thoughts for more than a few seconds, your mind's concentration is at a decent level, so you can redefine your purposes and go from there.

I think that covers the basics--meditation isn't as complicated as some may say it is, but if you guys have any questions, feel free to shoot.

Now get out and start meditating! :dough:

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Dictionary.com defines meditation as, " A contemplative discourse, usually on a religious or philosophical subject."  But to elaborate and give it my own definition, meditation is a state of being that allows for one to focus completely on oneself, be it body, mind or a combination of both, while deliberately or passively negating all outside disturbances. 

[boldface added]

What you are describing here is a state of mind, not a state of being. Thus meditation, if it is a necessary and valid concept, is an epistemological (or psycho-epistemological) concept, not an ontological one.

Given your examples, and the wide lattitude you allow in the practice of "meditation," I don't understand how "meditation" differs from concentration. What are the essential differences, if any?

Is one essential difference the object of concentration -- oneself (mind and body)?

If so, then is meditation a species of concentration? That is, is meditation concentration on oneself?

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[boldface added]

What you are describing here is a state of mind, not a state of being. Thus meditation, if it is a necessary and valid concept, is an epistemological (or psycho-epistemological) concept, not an ontological one.

Given your examples, and the wide lattitude you allow in the practice of "meditation," I don't understand how "meditation" differs from concentration. What are the essential differences, if any?

Is one essential difference the object of concentration -- oneself (mind and body)?

If so, then is meditation a species of concentration? That is, is meditation concentration on oneself?

Good points. What I was describing, as you have pointed out, was that meditation is a certain state of consciousness, rather than a state of being.

I would also say that meditation is slightly different than concentration. When one concentrates, one usually focuses outward; whereas with meditation, the focus is almost always inward.

Is meditation a species of concentration? Yes. I would argue that meditation is concentration focused inward...So the "focusing inward" is the slight difference between concentration and meditation.

Thanks for the questions and observations Burgess.

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When you say meditation increases your ability to concentrate, does this mean it helps you focus on thoughts without distortions and distractions floating through your mind during times aside from meditation periods? Can't this be achieved simply by focusing harder on what you are trying to comprehend in daily life?

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When you say meditation increases your ability to concentrate, does this mean it helps you focus on thoughts without distortions and distractions floating through your mind during times aside from meditation periods?
Yes

Can't this be achieved simply by focusing harder on what you are trying to comprehend in daily life?

Sure. I'm not arguing that meditation is the best way to go about improving your concentration, but it's definitely a way, and it is mentally challenging. You could also try to follow the second hand on a clock for two minutes without allowing your mind to become distracted--is this a better method than meditation for improving concentration? I have no idea, but I'm sure it works.

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The subconscious:

I am very interested in your post related directly to revamping the subconscious. Specifically, I am after changing subconsciously held reactions like emotions and psycho-epistemology. Do you know if meditation offers the quickest (or most effective) method of doing this? Have you had much success in this area?

I see you used a "mantra" technique as an example. Does repeating the words allow you to sort of self-hypnotize yourself (hypnotization, being when your subconscious is most receptive) to program new thoughts?

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Contrary to popular belief, meditation does not always involve clearing the mind and sitting like a duck on a log; in fact, there are many different forms of meditation, some more active than others.  For instance, when an NBA player has the ball in his hands with three seconds left on the shotclock, and he needs to score in order to win the game, I consider him to be in a meditative state--he is focused completely on the task at hand, the noise of the crowd is not heard, and the only thought running through his head is, "how do I score in three seconds?"

If the NBA player even bothers to think "how do I score in three seconds?" he has already failed and will never be able to score.

Contrary to popular opinion thought is very slow.

The goal of meditation in athletics/martial arts is to act without thinking, without calculating. Presumably the individual has taken the time to train themself in preparation for the the game/bout, but once the fight is on the person that takes the time to think and calculate will lose to the person that just acts every time (assuming they are at more or less comparable levels of physical training).

The goal of meditation is always to control/eliminate thought. That is to eliminate random or stray thoughts that distract the person from the task at hand. In the midst of a game all thoughts are stray thoughts. In the midst of a mathematics problem any thought not of the problem is a stray thought.

The initial goal of any beginning meditator will be to "empty the mind", and that is simply because for the beginner there is no control of the mind so pretty much all thoughts are stray thoughts outside of the beginner's control.

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If the NBA player even bothers to think "how do I score in three seconds?" he has already failed and will never be able to score.

The goal of meditation in athletics

I don't know about martial arts, but in athletics (take basketball as an example) meditation is seldom used. The common method of obtaining near-automatic reactions for complicated movements in athletics is repeatedly practicing them until they are carried out largely by the lower-back of the brain. Simply initiating the thought stimulates the whole action, rather than having to think of the whole movement.

So, in basketball, you may have to concentrate on how to do your layup in the beginning, but once you have trained your central nervous system to carry out the complex movement as almost a direct response to a sensory perception--for example, you see the left side of the hoop is unguarded and charge upward for a layup--it requires little thought except for a minor "start button" which initiates your movement.

Please tell me how meditation plays any roll in this process.

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Its an interesting point actually - I recall reading a New Scientist article concerning research on different peoples brains base frequencies whilst conscious - most were above 15Mhz, but of all groups tested - and it was an extensive survey - the two groups that stood out from the rest were buddhist monks and secret service field agents - at around 8-11hz. I think that implies a high level of use of intuition - acquired skills being put into action as a result of training rather than conscious contemplation. That is presumably contingent upon accepted rules or understandings.

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I don't know about martial arts, but in athletics (take basketball as an example) meditation is seldom used. The common method of obtaining near-automatic reactions for complicated movements in athletics is repeatedly practicing them until they are carried out largely by the lower-back of the brain. Simply initiating the thought stimulates the whole action, rather than having to think of the whole movement.

So, in basketball, you may have to concentrate on how to do your layup in the beginning, but once you have trained your central nervous system to carry out the complex movement as almost a direct response to a sensory perception--for example, you see the left side of the hoop is unguarded and charge upward for a layup--it requires little thought except for a minor "start button" which initiates your movement.

Please tell me how meditation plays any roll in this process.

It wouldn't play a role in that process. If used it would play a role in minimizing distraction through random stray thoughts about things like the crowd, the color the uniform, the glare off the court, the lights, where the party is going to be after the game, I wonder what the name of that cute girl in the first row is..., etc., what I have usually heard termed "focus" in basketball. All of this distracts attention from the game and slows the player down. It also works to stop the player from planning when things are moving to fast to plan. You cannot calculate what is the optimal way to block the player going for the lay in, you just block the shot (but you had better have practiced this).

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I did a lot of meditation in the past and made a lot of errors due to meditation. I think I can make a contribution to this debate. Sorry if it’s a long post, but my experience can’t be summed up in a few lines.

There are different meanings to the word “meditation”. The old, western meaning we see in dictionaries is based on Christian meditations. These are thought-experiments or exercises of contemplation. Meditation now also refers to a lot of eastern techniques.

The eastern forms of meditation are characterised by calming the mind, concentration and awareness. Meditation is a subtle mix of inward concentration and awareness or mindfulness. Any technique that stops the mind from wandering but leaves room to be aware (to simply observe what happens) is meditation. These techniques can be visualisations, mantras, counting or consciously following your breath or even concentrating on having a perfect posture, like zazen.

I would qualify the consciousness in meditation a state of relaxed (calm, quiet) concentration. The mind is undisturbed by random thoughts but not absorbed in concentration. To illustrate the difference between meditation and concentration we could compare it to biking. Learning to ride a bike demands hard, voluntary concentration. The same would be true for specific training like improving maximum speed for the final sprint or learning the best way climb. At that time the minds attention is fully occupied by one or two actions. The cyclist is conscious of what he is doing, he tries to do something very specific (e.g. maintain a certain rate of pedal strokes per minute or give a maximal push with every stroke). The meditative state would be more a race while in perfect physical and psychological shape. The mind of the cyclist is free from anything not connected to the race and the pre-race nerves are gone. His attention flows freely from on aspect of racing to the other: from the distance of his competitors to the state of his body, from his pace to his race strategy, from the shape of the dangerous curb ahead to the movement of his arms…. The cyclist is not conscious of what he is doing, i.e he’s not thinking now I’m doing this, now I’m doing that.

As an Objectivist, you should ask yourself why you want to meditate. What are you hoping to gain from it? It is also important to determine what amount of effort and time you are willing to trade for what result over which period of time. Churchill liked to paint and smoke cigars. This was all his mind needed to lead his nation trough WWII. Meditation would probably have had negative effects for him, diverting too much of his time away from his real task.

Psychologists talk about a state called flow, athletes and sports coaches call it being “in the zone”. Any activity that creates flow enhances your mental and physical health. Once you find these activities, stick with them and consider them your meditation practice. This should work for almost everybody.

If you want to try some ancient form of meditation: APPLY EXTREME CAUTION

DO NOT look for a guru or a meditation teacher! If you want to learn some form of meditation, go to westernised teachers of some form ancient low impact work-out (yoga, tai-chi, chi-kung) or martial arts. Look for teachers who see meditation as part of their art and not as something superior or a next stage. The more materialistic their teachings, the better. They will understand you’re doing meditation to further your personal goals and will be happy with that. Be willing to pay the price. Asking a fair price shows the teacher knows the real benefits of his teaching and is willing to trade it for material benefits, without any strings attached. :D

You talked about revamping the subconscious. True. So be careful, a lot of teachers are not in it for the money. They want to help humanity, help others realize their true (divine) Self, bring peace to the world etc, etc. Of course they want nothing in return, just the odd gift to pay the heating bill or get bread on the table. This kind will always try to revamp your subconscious according to their ideology. Meditation creates a lot of strong sensations and feelings. There is a big risk you will attach too much importance to these sensations, sacrificing reason to meditation-induced sensations. At that moment you are lost. You have lost you ability of free choice and are dependent on the intuition of the guru and surrounding group thinking.

Meditation also creates a sense of non-self. The part of your brain dealing with your sense of identity, your place in space and time, your relation to others goes into relaxation. In Zen-Buddhism there is talk about the practice doing practice, without a someone to practice, doing just happening by itself, without a conscience that does the doing. All the Eastern philosophies that rely on meditation see this purely neurological phenomenon as evidence of a metaphysical truth. This truth, they say, can only be understood by abandoning conventional reasoning.

I guess everybody on this board can work out the consequences of these metaphysics. :P

So anybody here wanting to start meditation, examine the philosophy and motivations of the teachers before going to their class. :pirate:

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Ive already posted this as part of another thread, but it seems relevant - a form of yoga that is extremely effective, costs money and has no psychological/spiritual strings attached. I just found out the male teacher I had on Sunday is in fact a district attorney/judge!!

For the last two weeks I have been doing Bikram Yoga at 6.45 each morning whcih requires getting up at 5.45, although I have been going to bed earlier at 23.00 I have found it increase alertness throughout the day, decreased my appetite aswell as obvious benefits to flexibility and strength. This form of yoga is patented by Bikram Choudury, and is a series of 26 postures done over 1.30hrs in a 40C dry heated room. Its become quite popular in the City and I gather Richard Nixon actually practiced with Bikram. check out http://www.bikramyoganyc.com/ Americans and www.bikramyoga.co.uk/ English - they seem to be springing up in a lot of international cities.

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Sorry for the unreasonable late reply--now that I have access to the internet, it should not be a problem.

I'll try to address some of the questions/responses many of you have in hopes that this thread will be looked upon later.

]Specifically, I am after changing subconsciously held reactions like emotions and psycho-epistemology. Do you know if meditation offers the quickest (or most effective) method of doing this? Have you had much success in this area?

Ex if you wouldn't mind clarifying what you mean be psycho-epistemology I'd be glad to take a shot at your question.

I see you used a "mantra" technique as an example. Does repeating the words allow you to sort of self-hypnotize yourself (hypnotization, being when your subconscious is most receptive) to program new thoughts?

In a way, yes. I haven't really tried to "program new thoughts" per se, but more so my reaction regarding certain things. For instance, at the school I intend, I often hear teachers and students utter statements that I allow to upset me; so, during meditation, if I repeatively say this sentence (the sentence being my mantra), "I will not let it upset me," in reference to their comments, it (the mantra) seems to work quite well--I've noticed that when someone says that our profession is to "serve those in need" I do not immediately become upset; instead, the first thing that pops into my mind is "I will not let it upset me."

If the NBA player even bothers to think "how do I score in three seconds?" he has already failed and will never be able to score.

Good point. I was wrong to say that it was a "thought" of scoring in three seconds; but rather, it is an understanding that he must score in three seconds.

In the midst of a game all thoughts are stray thoughts.

Punk I'm interested in how you use the term "thought" here. I think I may slightly disagree with you, but it all comes down to how you define "thought". I don't think all thoughts are stray(irrelevant) thoughts in the midst of a game. If a quarterback picks a play in the huddle, but then sees the defense has a lineup that suits his offensive pick, he will audible.

Or, if a pointguard calls an offensive play devised for man-to-man defenese but then sees he's against a zone, he will audible.

In the above cases, do you consider these recognitions as thoughts, or conditioned reactions to specific circumstances?

Once again, sorry for the late replies.

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Meditation, yoga, and prayer are a few examples of how some people deal with stress. More damaging alternatives (though "prayer" could be argued as such) are binge drinking, smoking (I've recently quit) and drugs. I'm 19, and all that goes with it (college, work, relationships, essentially life) can become very stressful at times.

I'm wondering if there is a rational manner of meditating that anyone knows about. Something that would clear and focus the mind and body (while also holding that the two are not at odds with one another). I've stayed away from yoga and such because the concept of Qi doesn't agree with metaphysics.

Any suggestions?

(I have been reading more. It does a good job of relaxing me without numbing my mind like TV.)

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*** Mod's note: Merged with an earlier thread. -sN ***

Here's the start of the wiki page:

"Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference. It is recognized as a component of almost all religions, and has been practiced for over 5,000 years......." -and then it really goes into made up terms and dimensions etc..

It cannot be understood without exploring weird religious concepts first and I just don't have the time for that, so I decided to post the queston here, hoping someone could put it in terms a science-minded person (who isn't a psychology major!!) could understand.

What I am curious about is:

1. Can anyone give a scientific reason as to why it would make sense to explore the idea.

2. A reasonable explanation, using scientific terms, as to what is the big deal? What is it, and why is it so attractive to people who practice forms of it?

I'm not really interested in getting into it, but I 'd like to be able to understand people I know, who talk about it.

Edited by softwareNerd
"Merged" notice

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