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Anyone here practice meditation of any kind?
Posted: 07 September 2011 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m not talking about TM or anything with lots of religious baggage or dubious claims. But what about meditation just for the health benefits—relation, stress reduction, etc. Does anyone here practice it or have you in the past? What are your opinions about it? Is it effective? I admit to being intrigued by it.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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FreeInKy - 07 September 2011 11:46 AM

I’m not talking about TM or anything with lots of religious baggage or dubious claims. But what about meditation just for the health benefits—relation, stress reduction, etc. Does anyone here practice it or have you in the past? What are your opinions about it? Is it effective? I admit to being intrigued by it.

Yep, and I think Brennen does as well. I’ve done meditation on and off for years, basically for relaxation, stress reduction, etc., as you mention.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Doug, can you recommend a good book or website on mediation from a secular perspective? Thanks for the feedback!

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Posted: 07 September 2011 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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FreeInKy - 07 September 2011 11:46 AM

I’m not talking about TM or anything with lots of religious baggage or dubious claims. But what about meditation just for the health benefits—relation, stress reduction, etc. Does anyone here practice it or have you in the past? What are your opinions about it? Is it effective? I admit to being intrigued by it.

I get into a sort of meditative state at the gym. I also shed more lbs than I would staring at a candle.  cheese

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Posted: 07 September 2011 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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FreeInKy - 07 September 2011 12:46 PM

Doug, can you recommend a good book or website on mediation from a secular perspective? Thanks for the feedback!

Dunno. I got interested in it in high school, through Zen practice, which isn’t secular though it’s pretty close, depending on who and how you read. The basic idea of meditation is stupid easy to grasp, though like exercise it takes practice to be able to persist and enjoy the experience.

Most handbooks of Zen meditation that I’ve run across are pretty up-the-middle, and whatever woo is in them is pretty easy to spot and discard. I know there are other ways to meditate, but they all amount to pretty much the same. It may help rather than reading a book to go search out some local meditation group, courses at a local gymnasium or school, or even through your physician. The only worry is that if you stray too far from more hardcore stuff (Zen is generally pretty hardcore, which is why I prefer it), you can get deep into the weeds, with crap like Transcendental Meditation, etc. That stuff is far gone and should be avoided. And of course a lot of people who do meditation are in to other New Age nonsense, so you do have to be a bit careful.

You also shouldn’t have to pay virtually anything to do this, and certainly not after taking intro courses if that’s all you’re interested in.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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FreeInKy - 07 September 2011 11:46 AM

Is it effective?

Is it? Some people say it is. But then, a lot of people say a lot of things…

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Posted: 07 September 2011 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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OTOH, I go for hikes to relax. I guess not everybody would get the same results from hiking, so maybe meditation for others is similar to me hiking. Winston Churchill, supposedly, used to build brick walls to relax. I don’t know why, but if I had to choose between building brick walls and meditation I’d go for the walls. Meditation smells fishy to me.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Well, as always, the question is, “Effective at what?”

There’s evidence that it’s effective at stress reduction, which is no surprise. There are also more extravagant Alt Med claims for it that are quite implausible.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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dougsmith - 07 September 2011 02:13 PM

There’s evidence that it’s effective at stress reduction, which is no surprise.

I guess. As I already said above, a lot of things are probably as effective as meditation. The problem with meditation I find is that its popularity is probably based on where it comes from (it’s Asian, it must be great!) as opposed to its effectiveness—how much more effective is it to, say, feeding pigeons in the park?

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Posted: 07 September 2011 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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If you prefer feeding pigeons in the park, nobody is stopping you. The argument is basically meaningless, since it’s an issue of personal preferences.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I’ve been curious about meditation, and how to go about doing it in an effective way. I understand that in a loose way, pretty much anything we do that involves intense focus is a form of meditation, putting my regular music-making in that list. Certainly, performing some of the ‘extreme’ minimalistic music applies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF0uEcmGt5s

Although, I haven’t done this kind of stuff yet. Putting something like this to trombone is simply too hard on the small muscles of the ol’ chops.

[ Edited: 07 September 2011 02:41 PM by TromboneAndrew ]
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Posted: 07 September 2011 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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dougsmith - 07 September 2011 02:35 PM

If you prefer feeding pigeons in the park, nobody is stopping you. The argument is basically meaningless, since it’s an issue of personal preferences.

Okay, fair enough. So long as people don’t confuse medatation with neuroscience I don’t have a problem with it…I think.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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The general idea is to isolate yourself from thoughts of past or future and just focus on the present moment. Usually that involves focusing on some particular thing, and it’s easier to focus on something that’s moving rather than something that’s stable. So the usual thing is to focus on the breath. Sometimes I find it useful to count breaths, up to ten and then starting at one again. (If you keep going up then it becomes a kind of game where you’re trying to beat yourself, and that’s not focusing on the present anymore). Deep, diaphragm breathing in and out helps to relax.

We spend a lot of our time analyzing and planning for the future and reliving the past, and a new window into reality can open up if we relax ourselves into the present moment for awhile every day, just being in the moment and observing, rather than judging.

But it’s not for everyone, just as listening to Steve Reich is not for everyone, and going to museums is not for everyone. (Spoken as a Steve Reich fan).

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Posted: 07 September 2011 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I too have practiced meditation of the vaguely BUddhits/mindfulness variety off and on for about 5 years. Subjectively, I feel as if I have better attention, less anxiety and irritation, and generally a better mood when I am doing it regularly than when I’m not, but there’s nothing the least bit objective or scientific about that. Since we’re talking about inherently subjective criteria of efficacy anyway, I’m not sure it matters. I do think there are some interesting neuroscience studies on the subject, but they are all over the place in terms of quality, methods, and focus, so I don’t think there is anything like a solid case to be made for what exactly are the mechanisms or effects of various meditation practices.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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mckenzievmd - 07 September 2011 03:23 PM

I too have practiced meditation of the vaguely BUddhits/mindfulness variety off and on for about 5 years. Subjectively, I feel as if I have better attention, less anxiety and irritation, and generally a better mood when I am doing it regularly than when I’m not, but there’s nothing the least bit objective or scientific about that. Since we’re talking about inherently subjective criteria of efficacy anyway, I’m not sure it matters. I do think there are some interesting neuroscience studies on the subject, but they are all over the place in terms of quality, methods, and focus, so I don’t think there is anything like a solid case to be made for what exactly are the mechanisms or effects of various meditation practices.

Agreed.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I like meditation when I do some random visualizations (pictures).  That is relaxing for me, different than sleep.  I only do it sporadically though.  smile

[ Edited: 07 September 2011 06:23 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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