Monday, November 26, 2012

Left-brain meditation, II: the distractions of the usual variety

Meditation and mindfulness don't work for me. I find it extremely difficult, and perhaps impossible, to empty my mind of words. To the extent that I succeed in being "in the moment" and not thinking tangential thoughts, in seep anxieties and broodings.

When I wish to sooth my mind, I prefer what I've called a "left-brain meditation" that operates by deep, narrow, all-absorbing distractions.

A new book called "Encyclopedia Paranoiaca," by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf, reviewed in this weekend's Wall Street Journal, validates my sense that standard meditation isn't all it's cracked up to be. Quoting the review, quoting the book, meditation:

has been known to produce a grisly array of symptoms including, according to one expert, "uncomfortable kinesthetic sensation, mild dissociation, feelings of guilt . . . and psychosis-like symptoms, grandiosity, elations, destructive behavior, and suicidal feelings."
It seems to me that suicidal feelings, in particular, are much more likely to arise when your mind isn't distracted by something aborbing, but instead is offering that vaccuum that nature abhors.

2 comments:

Deirdre Mundy said...

This is why Catholics, for instance, use the Rosary as a form of meditation. Set words, images from the Bible to reflect on, and a way to focus the mind on God, rather than emptying it (because, as an old priest once said "when you empty your thoughts and open the door, you never know WHAT will come in.)

Other religious traditions have similar forms of focused prayer. Perhaps you can find one that suits your beliefs? Or, alternatively, reflecting on mathematical proofs or something similar could fill a niche?

Katharine Beals said...

"(because, as an old priest once said "when you empty your thoughts and open the door, you never know WHAT will come in"

Great quote!