Friday, November 26, 2010

Mike Rappaport

Since it is the Thanksgiving weekend, I will be giving thanks for meditation, something I have done for at least 20 minutes a day for nearly half a year.  It is absolutely great.  

In this and the next post, I give some scientific reasons for meditating: 

From Jonathan Haidt in the Happiness Hypothesis (an elegant book):

            Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment.  Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory.  Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing.  Now would you take it?

            The pill exists.  It is meditation.  It has been discovered by many religious traditions and was in use in India long before Buddha, but Buddhism brought it into mainstream Western culture.  There are many kinds of meditation, but they all have in common a conscious attempt to focus attention in a nonanalytical way.  It sounds easy: Sit still (in most forms) and focus awareness only on your breathing, or on a word, or on an image, and let no other words, ideas, or images arise in consciousness.  Meditation is, however, extraordinarily difficult at first, and confronting your repeated failures in the first weeks teaches [one] lessons in humility and patience.  The goal of meditation is to change automatic thought processes. . . .

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Mike Rappaport


". . .Bhuddism brought it [meditiation] into mainstream Western culture."

How sad, to be that bereft of understanding, and so esranged from the wellsprings of Western culture, as to be unaware of the place of meditation and contemplation in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.

Perhaps if we were to spend significant time in the Orient we might be more aware of the difference between the popular and esoteric strains of the Oriental traditions. The half-educated Westerner always compares, say, the Delai Lama, with some illiterate Bible-thumper and jumps to a false conclusion. Be assured, there are illiterate joss-stick burners and monket-worshipers aplenty, just as there are spiritually adept Christians.

Posted by: Lou Gots | Nov 26, 2010 5:16:46 PM

Your writing is very elegant, very vivid and lively, I really like you, wish you continued to write better articles, I will often try to concern, oh!

Posted by: wholesale | Nov 26, 2010 6:46:46 PM

Check out the work of psychiatrist Jeffrey M. Schwartz from UCLA. He's done some intriguing work on how meditation can affect the mind and brain.

Posted by: Steve Erickson | Nov 27, 2010 3:47:54 PM

Catholics call this praying the Rosary, we've been doing it for a bit now.


Posted by: Katherine | Nov 27, 2010 3:52:59 PM

If meditation is so great, why do so many of its practitioners go on to try to hop, fly and walk through walls?

Posted by: Jimbino | Nov 27, 2010 4:47:28 PM