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Monday, August 16, 2010

Myths About Meditation. Hint: It's Not Just for Buddhists.

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens. - Carl Jung.

Meditation has brought life-changing benefits to millions of people world-wide. It is perhaps one of the original "self-help" programs as it helps calm the mind, stabilize emotions and motivate. Meditation is probably best known in Buddhism and the Hindu belief system but it can not be said that one must be a Buddhist or Hindu to benefit from it. That is one of the persisting myths about meditation, which is sad because it could be holding some non-Buddhists back from really benefiting from the discipline. This and many myths about meditation are raised in a recent article by Doctor Ronald Alexander (who specializes in psychology):

Myth 4: "Practicing mindfulness meditation will conflict with my religious beliefs." The practice of mindfulness meditation is free of religious and spiritual dogma. In fact, if you believe in turning to God for guidance, you can use mindfulness meditation to set aside distractions and listen to the divine wisdom that can be found only when you tune out the endless chain of thoughts your own mind creates. This form of meditation turns down the volume of the chatter in your mind and allows you to tune in to deeper wisdom and insight. Mindfulness practice is a pathway to discovery that any of us can use, regardless of our religious or spiritual beliefs.

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5 comments:

Sabio Lantz said...

Another myth about meditation is that there is only one kind of meditation -- "emptying your mind".

There are dozens of meditation methods which all have different effects on the brain. And depending on your brain, some are better for you than others. But many of these meditations have huge religious elements. Yet the author rightly qualifies to narrower subset of meditation: "mindfulness meditation". The other forms may benefit someone too, but that is another conversation.

I think many people can learn to benefit from meditation if, as this post illustrates, they can strip it of religious connotations and realize there are styles that may benefit their needed weaknesses (dukkha).

Bonsai Doug said...

Good posting - especially regarding meditation and religious beliefs.

I read an interview with Mother Teresa. She was asked: "When you pray, what do you say to god?" She replied: "I don't speak to god, I listen." The reporter then said: "OK, when you pray, what does god say to you?" Mother Teresa said: "He doesn't speak to me, he listens."

Sure sounds like meditation to me.

Fr. Jay said...

I am not a Buddhist, but a Thomasine Christian, however it was the Buddhists who helped me get into meditation that has now become a daily practice. Thank you for this post!

Eric said...

This is a good article. It reminds me of something an Episcopal priest told me many years ago. He said that there was a painting in his church of a traditional Italian villa that he loved for its vivid realism. Every day he would sit in front of it alone, staring into it until his one-pointed concentration would transport him into it completely. Once inside, he would meet Christ there, and walk with Him all through its streets without a word for hours :)

Lon Anderson said...

I totally agree with what is on this post. My thoughts are if more could open themselves in this way of thinking, they might feel much more at ease, including others . . . around them.

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