Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Left-brain meditation

I'm wrapping up our summer vacation plans, and therefore contemplating the prospect of relaxation.

Which leads me to the topic of meditation. Many of us left-brainers fail at the standard meditations, thanks to that incessant chatter in our brains, which seem to especially abhor the vacuum of quiet meditation. Has anyone considered the possibility, however, of a left-brained approach to meditation?

This first hit me when I saw how Gelfand's Algebra problems could calm down my autistic son J, and heard how his breathing would slow, deepen, and regularize as he factored or completed the square.

Then it occurred to me that some of my calmest, in-the-zone moments occur while I'm extensively tweaking my software.

My other two left-brainers are likewise at their calmest and most content not when trying to sit still and quiet their minds, but when engaged in logic puzzles or physics problems. Again, there's that slow, deep, regular breathing, suggesting an inner calm that others get by meditating.

So wrapped up are we in the right brainers' notions of meditation that it doesn't occur to us--or at least to me--that for some, the equivalent of an Ashram is a math camp.


Lori said...

Your post intrigues me. Any surveys that I have taken over the years put me almost right in the middle of left/right brained. My family will tell you I am left-brained, but... anyway. In an attempt to help me relax and overcome anxiety issues, my parents sent me for help with relaxation and meditation. To some degree, they work.. briefly. But I am always calmest when trying to build or organize things online. Your post is truly an epiphany to me as well. Teachers need to be aware of this as well. As with education, and relaxation, one size certainly does not fit all. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

That isn't really like meditation though. That's more just being 'in the zone.' That feeling of focus occurs in different things for different people. The discipline it comes naturally in is usually picked up as a hobby, or, if one is lucky, a job. A better parallel for what your son experiences is what, say, an artist feels when sketching or painting. Meditation isn't intrinsically (sp?) right brained. You're son loves math though. That's awesome.

lefty said...

Lori, I've actually requested that teachers give my children math problems to do when they act up in class! This seems to help a bit. Anonymous, The 'in the zone' state I describe may be the closest some of us get to a meditative state. I find it extremely difficult to shut off the verbal narrative that my conscious self is otherwise almost continuously engaged in; in fact, the more I try to shut it off, the louder and more talkative it gets!

Anonymous said...

Love of chess can be either addictive or meditative depending on your personality. Most people don't think so, but I know plenty of chessplayers and their ex-wives who know better. When you're winning its meditation, but when you're losing its an addiction. Gambling is sort of like that too.

vlorbik said...

thanks for this.
very important.
kurt vonnegut seems to've said
something to the effect that
*reading* played the role for him
that people want to ascribe
to meditiation ("seems to"
here means i'm paraphrasing
without attribution because
i don't have a citation ready
to hand). i feel much the same.

math only sometimes.
but then, yeah, even more
than reading.
music is *really* the way
to go for me these days.

g-d bless out in left field.

vlorbik said...

here's the quote.
still unsourced, though.

random acts of research
are also hugely relaxing.

vlorbik said...

sez here
it's in _palm_sunday_.

all knowledge is found in blogs.