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On Meditation

By LilDebbie in Science
Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 02:29:27 AM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

The Conditioned is Father of the Preposition.
The Article also marketh Division; but the Inter-
jection is the sound that endeth in the Silence.
Destroy therefore the Eight Parts of Speech; the
Ninth is nigh unto Truth.
This also must be destroyed before thou enterest
into The Silence.

- Frater Perdurabo

Meditation has many definitions. For me, it is a process that isolates my mind from external distractions wherein I can explore thought and memory in pure abstract; a place where my conscious mind directly observes the swirling undercurrents of the subconscious. In physiological terms, it is the conscious lowering of brain wave frequencies to levels normally associated with sleep. While one could certainly raise his brain wave frequencies using similar techniques, the ensuing mania would not be characteristic of traditional meditation.

Possibly the easiest method to attain a meditative trance state is through entrainment. Basically, if you put two oscillating systems in contact with one another, their frequencies will synchronize. In practice with regards to meditation, this is achieved through the introduction of subaural beat frequencies generated by competing audible tones. The beat frequency remains static at the target frequency and if perceived long enough without other sensory input, the brain's frequency starts to synchronize with the desired frequency. The same effect can be achieved with any other repetitive sensation, e.g. strobe lights, vibrators, and spoken mantras.

Entrainment is a great way to get started with meditation as it requires virtually no discipline. All you need is a pair of headphones, a CD player, and some brainwave music. Of course, you don't have to get the hippy new-age albums featuring Ocean Sounds, Birds Chirping, and Wind Chimes, but they're less boring than straight tonal white noise. The advantage of the latter being you can make your own fairly easily. However, I find it's a lot harder to "come back" when the music lacks real-world context, as I discovered after spending four hours under my Mother's desk in her home office after slapping together something in RealPlayer and foolishly putting it on loop.

The main problem with entrainment is lack of control. Since the meditative focus is coming from without, you can't change it once you're under. It follows that one should move the focus within if you're going to get serious with it. The other advantage of using internal focus is that it's always with you. Bored, stuck in a meeting? Slip away into your own mind while the boss' words cease being stupid and become comical as you stare out of the glassy windows you call eyes beyond the vast plains of your imagination.

Sorry, got away from myself. I'll get more coffee.

That's better. As I was saying, while internal focus is superior, it is also more difficult. Much more difficult. I recommend experimenting with entrainment for a while before moving on, so you can get a feel for things. Not to totally dissuade you from this technique, I should add that in mastering this form, you learn a lot of stress management as well that you will apply in everyday situations. You know that eerie calm you see in Buddhist monks and the like? Well, they weren't born that way.

It wasn't until college that I finally learned how to properly meditate. I had tried focused breathing and all that crap in high school with poor results and decided that tapes were good enough. This was back in the halcyon days of '01. I was living on my own for the first time in my life; the nation was gripped by terror after watching the collapse of the twin towers; and I had recently discovered what would become two of my greatest loves: k5 and the Europe@n Grind (RIP). As coffeeshops go, this was teh best evar. People sat down and actually talked with one another in relatively civil fashion. Among the regulars was a sports hypnotherapist (I don't know either) and a neo-pagan shaman.

The three of us would often get into discussion regarding the vagaries of the human mind. After we quickly realized the sports therapist was mainly there to pick up women half his age, the shaman and I kept the discussion between ourselves. After many an hour chatting, he offered to show me how he meditated. We drove the short distance to his apartment and the lesson began.

I highly recommend having someone with you as a guide the first time. Yes, it's an external focus, but it's kind of like having training wheels while learning to ride. You get the gist of it while not worrying about falling down. Anyway, the first thing to do is get comfortable. None of this awkward Lotus position crap. That'll just mess up your joints. Lay down. Or sit. Or whatever's comfortable for you. Remember, whatever position you're in when you go under, that's the position you will remain in for a long time. Speaking of which, make sure to set aside at least an hour to meditate, especially beginning; it can take a long time just getting comfortable.

Once you're in position, work out any kinks you may have. Pay special attention to blood flow and make sure nothing's restricted. Rub your eyes and clear your throat. If you don't, these things will bother you later. Now close your eyes - not tightly, let them stay shut on their own. Stay relaxed in your breathing. I'm sure you've heard of the efficacy of deep breathing for relaxation, but it fails it for meditation. Increased oxygenation will put you to sleep, not to mention give you something to needlessly worry about. Try to forget about your breathing and let the autonomic parts of your brain handle it.

Now we focus. The following instructions apply equally for yourself or your guide should you choose to use one. Establish a scene in your mind's eye, something calm. The imagery should also transition to a metaphor for the annhilation of your body. I know that sounds weird, but it'll make sense as we move on. The aforementioned shaman used a road of light leading to a door amidst a field of night. That was a little too astral for me and I've since adopted the Hawaiian rainforest for my backdrop. Take time to examine the details. Ask questions like "what is the door made of?" or "what's the weather like in Oahu this time of year?" This will help cement the image in your mind.

Next, focus on relaxing every muscle in your body, starting with your face and ending in your soles. Make sure to get everything. Don't worry about having to backtrack either. I usually have to redo my cheeks a couple of times. This is a good time to incorporate annhilating imagery, such as "illuminating light" or, in my case, black ooze dripping out the tension. During the relaxation phase, slowly count from one to ten. Counting gives your conscious mind something to focus on so it doesn't get distracted. If you think you're going to fast, just slow down. Also, the head and shoulders generally take longer so don't freak out if you're up to seven by the time you get to your waist. Do not, however, go back in the count; you'll only get confused.

Feeling relaxed? Good. Now let's get rid of that pesky corpse. Here imagery is key. The common theme is warm, white light, but I prefer the Lake of the Black Waters (remember that ooze? It collects). This process is a reverse of the previous one. Take a step into the Lake. The water's warm, inviting, and dissolving. Replace the sensation of your feet with the image. Move up your legs, and don't forget to count backwards from ten. You don't want to be thinking about the office when you're hip deep in Nothing. Once you're up to your neck, dive in! Or open the door. Or whatever floats your boat.

If all goes well, you shouldn't feel a thing nor have any awareness of your surroundings. If part of you or your environment still lingers, dive down deeper. In such instances I like to think of the Waters invading my lungs, dissolving them, moving onto my bloodstream and then straight for the brain.

What you do now is your business.


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Related Links
o brain wave frequencies
o entrainmen t
o spoken mantras
o Also by LilDebbie

Display: Sort:
On Meditation | 132 comments (67 topical, 65 editorial, 0 hidden)
I like the entrainment link, (none / 1) (#5)
by Brogdel on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 09:10:11 PM EST

but I don't understand the spoken mantra thing. I think this kind of stuff is interesting. I will +1 it, but to get it through you will have to sell it to the K5 Kabal... unless you are in the Kabal, in which case it's in anyway.

Rhythmic repetitions (none / 0) (#44)
by LilDebbie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 01:21:23 PM EST

Just another oscillation.

And for the last time, there is not k5 kabal! How many times must we tell you?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

Proof, Dammit! (none / 0) (#87)
by Brogdel on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:57:00 PM EST

I can't figure out how to put a link in, but if you go here: http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2006/2/15/172333/968?pid=1#4
you will see proof.

[ Parent ]
Geezus! even MORE nullospam! /nt (1.16 / 12) (#7)
by FeatheredSerpent on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 09:25:22 PM EST

-1 Analnaut (1.28 / 7) (#9)
by alphaxer0 on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 10:05:16 PM EST

like fantastic voyage? (none / 0) (#97)
by Ranch Noodles on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 01:12:02 AM EST

colonoscopy style.

[ Parent ]
Do you align your chackras too? $ (2.50 / 4) (#12)
by Lemon Juice on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 10:46:46 PM EST

maybe if you fixed your chakras, LJ, (none / 1) (#24)
by krkrbt on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 02:16:40 AM EST

you could get laid.  The "Radiant Circuits" (term used by Donna Eden) are said to be the 'energies of love'.  I bet yours are fubar'd.  

LJ's just a poor, confused materialist.  Nothing more to see here, move along.  

[ Parent ]

Only when wanking (none / 1) (#47)
by LilDebbie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 02:28:07 PM EST

and stoned

and purely for physical pleasure.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

delta waves d00d (none / 0) (#16)
by circletimessquare on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 12:28:57 AM EST

it's all about the delta waves.....

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

gamma $ (none / 1) (#23)
by Ranch Noodles on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 02:02:37 AM EST

[ Parent ]
I use death rays (3.00 / 2) (#88)
by MrHanky on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 06:51:44 PM EST

They're kinda cool.

"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]
What about us? (1.14 / 7) (#25)
by United Fools on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 02:40:22 AM EST

We are in meditation while not sleeping!

Foolishness helps to keep your mind free from complex thoughts!

We are united, we are fools, and we are America!

how is this different from dying? $ (1.50 / 2) (#28)
by Ranch Noodles on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:45:28 AM EST

It's temporary $ (3.00 / 4) (#41)
by LilDebbie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 01:13:25 PM EST

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
If you quiet the noise in your brain... (none / 0) (#80)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:57:30 PM EST

...you can hear your own thoughts.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

are your own thoughts coherent? (none / 0) (#82)
by Ranch Noodles on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:26:10 PM EST

does this bring about true focus and clarity?

or is it all a bunch of amusing wishy washy illusion?

[ Parent ]

I don't meditate. (3.00 / 2) (#86)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:55:32 PM EST

my brain's true thoughts scare me. noise is better.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Closed vs. Open meditation (3.00 / 4) (#31)
by MMcP on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 09:46:58 AM EST

be aware that what LilDeb is talking about is a "closed" style of meditation.  Eyes closed, blocking out the outside world, etc.  I'm sure I'm overgeneralizing, but this style is typical of Indian yogis.  

Open meditation is an alternative - open eyes, very attuned to the outside world.  Basically another flavor in the meditation world.  Zen works towards this style, typically talking about opening up and polished mirrors and the like.  

open/closed, nirvikalpa/sahaja (3.00 / 2) (#104)
by hoskoteinos on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 01:03:17 PM EST

An interesting distinction is sometimes made in Hindu philosophy between two types of meditative absorption (or samadhi): nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja samadhi. Nirvikalpa is the culmination of the "closed" kind of meditation--what LilDebbie is talking about: having your consciousness utterly absorbed into emptiness (to give it Buddhist spin).

Sahaja comes when you learn to bring the sense of awareness gained in nirvikalpa into your waking life. It's analagous to the "open" kind you refer to. Literally, sahaja means natural. You don't have to be huddled in a cave somewhere, shutting out the world to feel mystical rapture. You're in the world, feeling that rapture simulaneously with lived experience. One could say that sahaja is akin to the bodhisattva ideal of Mahayana Buddhist tradition: it's not enough to achieve enlightenment for yourself; you have to bring it into the world.

[ Parent ]
I'm interested in this mania you mention (none / 1) (#34)
by Have A Nice Day on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 10:26:19 AM EST

How might that be acheived I wonder?

Otherwise it reads pretty well, but I'm not a meditator. I get my time in a sleep-like state by sleeping a lot.

Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
The other direction (3.00 / 3) (#46)
by LilDebbie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 02:21:16 PM EST

Aside from drugs, I find trying to visualize networks systems, be they roads, power grids, telecom, whatever, seems to ramp me up.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
alternative "ramp up" (none / 0) (#95)
by GotoHospital on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 12:05:20 AM EST

be a hero.
nested¢ evolution is still interesting. talk.origins faq.
[ Parent ]
+1FP (none / 1) (#55)
by tetsuwan on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:01:03 PM EST

Now I'll try meditation and get my anticipated psychosis.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

Best of luck (none / 1) (#58)
by LilDebbie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:24:48 PM EST

I've found meditative techniques also help me affect sanity.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
My aunt went insane meditating. (none / 0) (#69)
by tetsuwan on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:14:32 PM EST

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

i've read stories of the trancendental meditation (none / 1) (#71)
by Cattle Rustler on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:17:19 PM EST

folks losing their minds.

[ Parent ]
I've mentioned this before on K5: (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by MMcP on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:20:52 PM EST

Trungpa talks about "crazy wisdom" - basically a person gets to a point where he acts without thought, with utmost confidence.  He cautions that this is a very dangerous thing and only for the most experienced.  Taoism also works with this idea.  

[ Parent ]
Oh but (none / 1) (#81)
by tetsuwan on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:12:44 PM EST

I'm talking about classical psychosis followed by life-long schizofrenia, no real cure in sight after 30 years.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

T. Gondi, maybe? (none / 0) (#89)
by MMcP on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:54:04 PM EST

[ Parent ]
reminds me of some old lady (none / 0) (#94)
by GotoHospital on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 12:01:55 AM EST

from the group home. She kept praying and meditating. In church she would say that she felt the presence of the Lord several times. Also, the doctors said she was crazy. Was her meditation good for her? No.

Makes you want to yank the crutches out from her brain and see if she can walk.
nested¢ evolution is still interesting. talk.origins faq.
[ Parent ]
What do I know? (none / 0) (#98)
by tetsuwan on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 04:23:30 AM EST

Maybe everyone who claims that they're Jesus really are him.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

You didn't include... (2.16 / 6) (#61)
by bighappyface on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:38:04 PM EST

...tantric sex as a form of meditation.

I am not a practitioner (3.00 / 2) (#62)
by LilDebbie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:41:55 PM EST

I wouldn't have much to say on the subject. I understand it's quite enjoyable, and I have some idea of the mechanics, but not enough to speak definitively.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
For the sake of completeness... (1.50 / 1) (#83)
by bighappyface on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:39:32 PM EST

...you should have touched on it, and linked to sites explaining and showing it.

[ Parent ]
I'm sure you have them bookmarked already $ (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by LilDebbie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:52:11 PM EST

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
I don't understand why kitten zeroed this.. (3.00 / 2) (#84)
by bighappyface on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:40:41 PM EST

...I understand the feelings subs have when being humiliated and pained for hours upon end apparently reaches some kind of 'enlightened/euphoric meditative ecstasy', although it doesn't sound like it'd do it for me.

[ Parent ]
meditation (2.00 / 5) (#64)
by wowboy on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:50:23 PM EST

is little debbie touching himself in his crappy 4x4 rented bedroom.

or me raiding and taking down Rag in a raid group that is in perfect sync.

whichever it is. this story sucks.

Discovery through destruction (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by starX on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:09:08 PM EST

It's interesting the dichotomy that we create with all of our technology, isn't it?  The technology of the modern world that has driven us farther from our more traditionally spiritual roots provides a way back to those roots through the rhythmic pulsing of a motor, the constant humm of a processor fan, and the driving baseline of a techno beat.  But this type of closed meditation is just the beginning.  The same effect can be achieved through repetitive physical activity though, and will train your mind toward a state of meditative focus while you are more actively conscious.  This makes it easier to get yourself into this state in your waking life.

Open meditation brings the spiritual world in line with the physical world, and in my obervance proves more generally useful.  It will help you focus yourself when you are working in distracting circumstances, and will serve to help you keep your cool when your upset.  Closed meditation is good for recovery after such moments pass.  Together they'll both help you deal with the trials and tribulations of modern life, just as these techniques served their original pratcitioners

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust

Frater Perdurabo? (1.50 / 2) (#75)
by emo kid on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:31:12 PM EST

isn't he some sort of paedophile sicko?

He's dead (none / 1) (#76)
by LilDebbie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:36:09 PM EST

and was actually very monogamous.

Her name was LAYLAH, and yes, he always wrote it in caps like that.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

Holy fuck, how goddamn obscure! (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by sudog on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:48:31 PM EST

Argh! I can't figure it out! What's the code?!


[ Parent ]

The Dalai Lama's heart is surfacing again... (3.00 / 2) (#79)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:53:32 PM EST

It's taking over!

It's "The Organs That Ate Manhattan" all over again!


"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

All the comments below SUCK (3.00 / 3) (#96)
by nostalgiphile on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 12:44:13 AM EST

Wtf r all u sheeple rambling on about? "Father Pedophilia," "I'm writing a song," "LilDebbie doesn't +1 me enough but I'm gonna +1 him to show my generosity," etc. etc. SO, I'm abstaining on this one cuz the comments are so fucking lame and lazy I don't want people to think that K5 stands for 5 yr old Kindergarten for the retarded...

As for LilD's article, well, it's like...so? Okay, not hot or cold, just kinda tepid, but judging from the feedback in the editing phase, it's no friggin wonder--all you fucks do is talk about yourselves and your petty concerns!

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
CTS? [nt] (none / 0) (#110)
by Linux or Mac OS X on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 07:53:25 PM EST

"Ugh, my stomach is full of tequila and semen." - LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Eat some acid (none / 0) (#111)
by benna on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 10:19:54 PM EST

It's easier.
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
-1, drop bong (none / 0) (#112)
by weedaddict on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 10:53:14 PM EST

I know, it's ironic.

Reality has a certain cynical bias - Cattle Rustler
-1 Saving you from yourself (none / 0) (#115)
by BottleRocket on Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 02:33:12 AM EST

This is not a good article, IMO. The conversational tone really doesn't do it for me, expecially in the personal sort of business of meditation. Furthermore, by following your instructions one precludes the ability to read them. Example:
Rub your eyes and clear your throat. If you don't, these things will bother you later. Now close your eyes - not tightly, let them stay shut on their own. Stay relaxed in your breathing. I'm sure you've heard of the efficacy of deep breathing for relaxation, but it fails it for meditation. Increased oxygenation will put you to sleep, not to mention give you something to needlessly worry about. Try to forget about your breathing and let the autonomic parts of your brain handle it.

Now we focus.

I look forward to seeing On Meditation when it's been revised for the 'completed high school' contingent.

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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
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Meditation making you crazy... (none / 1) (#116)
by mumble on Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 03:25:39 AM EST

I want to hear more about the risk of going crazy from meditating. I couldn't find much on google or wikipedia.

Links and or personaly accounts please.

stats for a better tomorrow
bitcoin: 1GsfkeggHSqbcVGS3GSJnwaCu6FYwF73fR
"They must know I'm here. The half and half jug is missing" - MDC.
"I've grown weary of googling the solutions to my many problems" - MDC.

I know no examples (none / 0) (#118)
by LilDebbie on Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 10:41:54 AM EST

Nor have I really heard of it. I can see one's behavior radically changing as a result from meditation and having friends and family react badly and institutionalizing.

Remember, schizophrenia is the default diagnosis for "just plain ol' crazy" and is often misused.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

does this hlelp? (none / 0) (#119)
by Ranch Noodles on Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 03:59:14 PM EST


[ Parent ]
google: meditation injuries (none / 1) (#122)
by Rhodes on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 06:53:26 PM EST

one of the hits:
Lorin  Roche; Meditation injuries

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-U S:official&q=meditation+injuries&spell=1

[ Parent ]

Methinks Dr. Roche is missing the point (none / 0) (#125)
by LilDebbie on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 01:40:29 PM EST

What she perceives as "injuries" and "dangers" are really the original goal states of meditation. I get the impression she wants her cake and eat it too with regards to meditation and her vain modern lifestyle.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Hehe (none / 0) (#128)
by tetsuwan on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 08:32:22 AM EST

LilDebbie: being spiteful and irritable is a goal of meditation?

I think she makes an excellent point.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Alternative quote about meditation (3.00 / 1) (#117)
by bithead on Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 10:05:39 AM EST

"Calmness in the heart of movement is the secret of all power"
-- unknown taoist monk

Here's an alternative to meditation (none / 1) (#120)
by jolly st nick on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 09:01:09 AM EST

Facing danger.

Or at least facing something you perceive as danger.

People act much less purposefully than they think. Rationalization, we have plenty of. We go around with head cluttered with habitual patterns of junk and all kinds of trip-wire reactions. We're like electrical machines that have fautly wiring and bad grounding. ALl kinds of random sparks and spurious signals send us of in one direction or antoher,and since we have an instinct to protect ourselves, including our self-image, we rationalize what we do, say and think, and defend it as if our life depends on it.

In an nutshell, meditation amounts to practicing not having a cluttered, distracted, hair-trigger mind. That's essential and universal. Some systems are more like self-hypnosis, in that you try to achieve some kind of a priori purpose in your actions. It may be stopping smoking, it may be regarding other people with compassion and kindness. It isn't easy and it takes practice.

On the other hand, one easy way to do this is to put yourself in a situation you can handle, but feels a little bit dangerous. This automatically puts the brain in a mode where it is uncluttered. For example, if you are descending a stretch of single-track on your mountain bike, the natural tendency is towards an equillibrium: you go faster until you are just at the edge of not being able to make decisions fast enough. That is the pleasure state, the "flow" state: a state of heightened awareness where the doors or perception are wide open, the mind is cleared, and your thoughts and bodily motions are truly purposeful. It's a state of feeling more alive than you do on a day to day basis.

I'm a martial artist, and sparring with a superior opponent does this for me. Even in controlled conditions, the result of a mistake is often pain, and there is always the potential for humiliation, which is why when it comes to sparring at least, most martial artists are so courtly and magnanimous. The natural reaction when faced with equal or superior speed and power is to freeze, turn away or cringe, which is the worst thing you can do, the classic "self-fulfilling prophecy". But with training you learn to relax into the situation. It's almost as if the fear was tangible thing, like a table you can use to set down your preocupations and habitual patterns of thought. You experience clarity and heightened awareness; the fear is still there but it's like a surface that your awareness spreads out over. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but hopefully this explains the attraction.

If danger is not your thing, well then there's always a comfortable chair in a quiet corner. You end up in more or less the same place.

Regarding martial arts (none / 0) (#121)
by LilDebbie on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 05:23:58 PM EST

I find that my peculiar mindset (there is a serenity to it, but it's not inherently obvious) helps immensely in sparring. I have some formal training, but I'm hardly practiced. However, the only preconceptions I take with me into a match is my opponent's style and how he will likely come at me. Questions of superiority do not enter into the equation.

As a result, I manage to hold my own against those with vastly superior training. Yes, they win out in the end, but I do not fold immediately.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

It's not surprising (none / 1) (#123)
by jolly st nick on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 11:50:41 AM EST

The problem with most martial artists sparring is that they don't realize how specific training is. Just as doing biceps curls won't give you stronger legs, practicing against somebody who likes to kick won't help you against somebody who's a grappler. It's a world of rock-paper-scisssors; if you train with people who habitually throw scissors then your rock gets pretty good.

The worst case of all is the completely or nearly untrained, who don't operate along any recognizable parameters. Even a rank beginner coming into the school has at least seen what other people are doing and unconsciously imitates. There's a common syndrome, we've all heard the story, of the black belt who gets his ass kicked in a bar fight by some drunk who goes ape-shit on him. He's got the basic tools to demolish the guy, he just can't put them to use.

In part this is due to the varying standards of schools, of course, but what is lacking isn't technique; it isn't even really strategy. He has plenty of strategies, he can't think fast enought to decide which one to use. What is lacking is the mind-like-water state that allows you to operate in the face of the unknown, when strategy can only be formed in the most general way. It's not surprising that this should be lacking, because despite what we're conditioned to believe, black belt is not a master rank, it's a journeyman rank.

[ Parent ]

Black belts (none / 0) (#124)
by LilDebbie on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 12:46:11 PM EST

I especially love the black belts who "earned" it just by being at the school for so many years.

Reminds me of a friend of mine who got stripped of his black belt status, built up to black and brown, and got stripped again (getting rough with your instructor is not advised).

He ended up leaving the school around red belt but could kick the shit out of all the first degree black belts and most of the second degrees.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

Meditation and Pain (none / 1) (#126)
by brain in a jar on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 10:55:41 AM EST

The way I see it there are three strategies for dealing with an aversive stimulus: pain, emotional or physical or even simple annoyance.

1. Remove the external cause of the pain (usually a good idea, but by no means always possible.

2. Avoid awareness of the pain, e.g. through drugs, hypnotism or through focusing intensely on something else-be it work or a type of meditation similar to the one you describe.

3. To suppress or train away the aversion to, or the "pushing away" of the pain, and so gain the ability to face it with equanimity. I.e. the pain is still felt, but without the aversion to it, it does not result in suffering.

I would say that as you move down the list the strategies become steadily more powerful, but also harder to learn and apply. The first and the second are innate human strategies, problem solving and to some extent dissociation to avoid awareness of a stressor. Problem solving often fails because not all problems are readily solvable (human mortality for example) and the second can fail because it means that if we are faced with a continuous source of suffering, the user of the second technique must be continously unaware to some extent.

The third strategy is universally applicable and corresponds to buddhist style mindfulness, but it doesn't come naturally and it takes a lot of time and energy to learn.

I attempt it, but the path is long and I am only a few steps along it.

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Position (1.50 / 2) (#127)
by Niha on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 06:34:00 PM EST

 About Lotus position, I far as I'm concerned, it's very similar to how people sit at India. I don't think it has more meaning, so it is good advice to forget it, and just go for any comfortable position.

Rah Rah for Meditation (none / 0) (#129)
by aguila on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 06:36:30 AM EST

LilDebbie has done a great service here by presenting a rather ancient method of development in
unthreatening modern psychosocially professional terms.  This means of describing meditation extracts
and liberates it from the prison of all the religious trappings it used to be associated with (pick a religion, any of them -- all have meditative aspects to them Christianity, Islam, Native American  traditionas of the North and South Americas, South East Asian traditions (anyone for walking across a bed of red hot coals?), Celts, and even older tradtions).

Depending upon one's view of history the fact that science now knows something about meditation and can
explain it in useful terms to anyone without the added stuff which may be foreign to an individual -- sadly it comes with the aura of a hospital operating theatre where everything is antiseptic, but given human history this is ok as it can no longer be used for manipulation and control of those who do not engage in it's benefits.  

Sadly there is not one religion which has not used
meditation or it's related methods for lack of a better term -- for crowd control and worse.  

Consider the influence the Christian Churches had in the era before the Crusades, and pay attention to what they did and how to start the Crusades; the methods were so astounding in their success that they attracted the attention of Hitler.  He built the SS on the principles of mimicing the religious orders of Christianity.  Updating the image to modern times, it should be clear (and this article presents a hint of what is possible) that masses of persons don't behave with manic and violent tendencies without direction or control from others who have preset the tune or frequency of what the masses will or will not respond to.  Really no one believes a simple lecturer stating a simple idea has this kind of effect on those listening?  Remember however that Hitler did and was effectively able to train others and they trained others and they did spread throughout India and the rest of the Middle East.  Hitler had a lot of help, even from within the US; someone should remember the America First movement led by Charles Lindbergh.

And believe it or not unfortunately science has made the facts of meditation so clear that another and different challenge exists today -- popular mass media and advertising methods have adopted aspects of the understanding of the mind's underpinnings to help them sell stuff better; that goes from developing better commercials to training sales persons better, and so on.

We may be in the era where for the sake of simple and basic mental hygiene, we now have to bath ourselves of not only the soot and whatever accumulations which come upon our physical self -- we need to also bath within and wash out all the other insidious and hidden messages being fed by the government, mass media or any one else into the unconcious aspects of ourselves.

In the end, this may be a good thing as we are being forced en masse into a discipline which requires greater and more expansive self awareness.  This more expansive self awareness can
help us become more respectful and sensitive towards other people's situations without being susceptible to manipulation.  That is a good thing.
=============== Lakota Sioux: Mitakuye Oyasin English Translation: We are all related.

Why is this in Science? (none / 0) (#130)
by OzJuggler on Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 01:07:21 AM EST

I wish I'd caught this one when it was new.

My background predjudice on this topic is that meditation is hippy new age bullshit. That's not to say that ideas that once seemed crazy cannot eventually become accepted truths in Science, but the important part is the way we reach that new understanding.

If you're going to use Science as a wedge to break down resistance to meditation and spread the alleged benefits of it to the great unwashed, you should at least:

  • Actually cite some scientific research that aids your goal.
  • Write in a more technical format.
As it is now it's no different to any other new age clap trap purporting to free me from my earthly troubles. Psychology is a soft science at best, but even there you've made no effort to compare the effectivity of meditation with other conventional practices in psychology and psychiatry.

What potential dangers are there in meditation? But of course the critical thinking required in science was not present in this article at all.

And citing such an enormously credible scientific resource as Wikipedia! Gosh, what a tower of power that is. You could have created that entire Wiki page yourself and we'd never know. If there is anything on that page that explains the mechanism of meditation you should have repeated it in your own words.

If you're not going to be scientific about it, don't put your cultural fiction in the science category. The categorisation is a crucial factor in determining how people will respond to your article; it determined my own response.
Personally I can't believe the kurobots were so forgiving. It's probably a further sign of the deterioration of k5. In the old days this would have been struck down quickly.

"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.

You will note I made few claims (none / 0) (#131)
by LilDebbie on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 05:45:34 PM EST

as to what meditation can do. I provided my subjective experience and labeled it as such. Beyond that, I suggested that regular practitioners of meditation tend to be more relaxed due to parallel skills. Granted, in that I have made an unqualified statement, but it was hardly the thrust of the article.

I chose the Science section in the sense of the science of meditation, i.e. the how and why.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

Yeah? L. Ron Hubbard made some claims too. (none / 0) (#132)
by OzJuggler on Fri Apr 07, 2006 at 12:33:16 PM EST

so I bet you're keen to unlock your inner thetan.
Claims schmaims.

I chose the Science section in the sense of the science of meditation, i.e. the how and why.
And where exactly was the How? There are two sentences which come close, since they mention measurable brain waves and linked oscillators. That's two sentences in the whole article, but they don't even suggest a mechanism for meditation. Think critically...
  • If the brain waves spectrum lowers, then where do the waves come from originally and how would those same underlying mechanisms be affected by meditation? No answer.
  • Who in fact has lowered their brain wave spectrum in this way? With what stimulus? Was it repeatable? No answer.
  • If the Wikipedia article is to be believed then meditation would reduce the amount of high frequency brain waves associated with perception and problem solving - so how is meditation going to help you? Heheh, the most paradoxical part of the whole "scientific" article, and again there is no answer.
Meditate all you want, but don't pretend there is any scientifically rational basis for doing so. When somebody DOES figure out a physical mechanism for how meditation works and why it's good for us then I will be interested to hear it. But this article is 90% trippy tree-hugging, 10% filler, and 0% science.

"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.
[ Parent ]

Okay (none / 0) (#133)
by LilDebbie on Fri Apr 07, 2006 at 05:09:11 PM EST

- Brainwaves represent the ambient frequency of neuron impulses. It is measured by examining the electric field generated by the sodium action potential that runs along the axon during impulse. Since you have many, many neurons, this only gives an average operating frequency across your entire neural net, so to speak.

- I have through the methods described in length in the article. You probably have too through similar activity but may not have been aware of what it was you were doing. Yes, it's repeatable; I've done it many times.

- Where is your proof that high frequency brain waves associate with problem solving? Secondly, why do you even bring this up? While I'll grant that certainly perception is lowered in meditation, that is entirely the point of the exercise.

I would apologize for not including such laborious and ultimately pointless explanations, except the thrust of the article was for the reader to try out this manner of meditation for himself and see what value it may or may not have.

In conclusion, I challenge you for providing me a rational basis for your continued existence. I expect a formal proof of why you shouldn't just kill yourself now.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

Thank you and good night. (none / 0) (#134)
by OzJuggler on Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 11:22:07 PM EST

the ambient frequency of neuron impulses.
Okay. Brainwaves come from the current flow across sodium ion channels. Fine. Thank you. See it wasn't difficult to find a bit of hard science behind brainwaves, was it? There's no reason you could not have done this in the first place, thus meriting the Science category. That was my main point.

I have
The only quirky part is that despite the alleged repeatability, without an objective definition of meditation and a device to measure it, how does anybody (yourself included) know that it was meditation that was being repeated? I can be flexible on that, but surely you would understand that science is not generally tolerant of qualitative and subjective information. Again it comes back to credibility and earning the label of "Science", not just saying it's "science" and wishing it were so.

Where is your proof
My proof? I'm not the one who needs to prove anything here. YOU linked to that Wikipedia article which itself says that HF waves are associated with perception and problem solving. Now you're questioning your own evidence! That's great! It shows you're thinking critically.

If you think that detailing the physical mechanisms of meditation is ultimately pointless then you are only reaffirming that your article should not have been categorised under Science.

Your "challenge" only demonstrates a fear and loathing for rationality, since you just tried to "use" my rationality as a weapon against me in a passive-aggressive contrivance. It is almost as ridiculous as asking a hippopotamus the same question. But you are imbuing the phrase "rational basis" with a meaning different to the one I used.
Rationality is a chain which has to start somewhere - but the place where it starts is not the "basis", the basis is the chain itself. It is not the importance of rationality that you are challenging, but rather one of the most basic values fed into it. If I could not provide a formal proof in the manner that you ask then it wouldn't change anything - I would still be here. Life survives, regardless of its occasional use as a host for rational agents.
In my original terminology, the "rational basis" for my continued existence is the mechanism of how I continue to exist, NOT WHY. So the answer to your question is actually quite easy: eating, digestion, breathing, oxygenation, circulation, immune responses, the reduction of adenosine triphosphate for muscular contractions, and even your own special topic of neural activity. The known biological mechanisms of these processes are the rational basis for my continued existence. Again you demonstrate ignorance of Science - confusing my scientific question of HOW with the more arbitrary and philosophical moral question of WHY.

You are lashing out because you think I'm attacking the propsect of meditation itself (which you value). Well I could do that, but I haven't and I won't. Science and rationality aren't everything. I'm pointing out that if you want to write a story about how great meditation is and how to do it, devoid of scientific basis, then put it in Culture or Op-Ed.

And yes, rationally, I shouldn't be doing this. It is already historical fact that the story was categorised as Science, and all the arguing won't change that.

"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.
[ Parent ]

On Meditation | 132 comments (67 topical, 65 editorial, 0 hidden)
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