What is the magic ingredient in meditation that the mainstream seem to be missing out on!? I'm sticking my head out and firmly stating: nothing. All the scientific and anecdotal evidence derives purely from the sober and unromantic intention to pay attention to something -- how you pay attention, the sincerity with which you pay attention, the subconscious emotions and intellectual knots illuminated from such attention, these are the factors that determine the various reports we find concerning the 'magic' of meditation.
I meditate between 1-2 hours a day. Sometimes I will do more and sometimes less. I find it saves me more time that it costs. I get distracted less, I need less sleep and I find myself in the right place at the right time more often. I also have more clarity on what is important so the time I have, I use wisely.
Not that this a state I attain very frequently :P
There are certain breath techniques that will land you in the clouds. If you do a practice like that without proper grounding, you are likely to be very disconnected from physical reality. That's my opinion and personal experience. In general (and they have the science to back this up) it heightens awareness of your senses. Though people who meditate have higher pain tolerance -- not because they feel less (since they feel more) -- because they have developed willpower to not react to stimulus the same way. Super fascinating!
Many teachings of meditation also incorporate teachings on compassion and self love which are sorely lacking in modern workplace.
I received so much from meditation (and ayahuasca) retreats it led me to co-found Retreat Guru. http://retreat.guru. Our mission is to get more people on authentic retreats.
Bad technique can lead to problems like depersonalization, and people can get something like an addiction to jhanas - but as far as I know elite meditators simply get more and more "enlightened". In some cases this may lead them to join a monastery or become a hermit, but whether this is problematic depends on your point of view.
But taking time out to go inwards everyday doesn't have to take that long. Just 20 minutes or even 5 minutes every day will do just fine. The key to benefiting from it, as with most things, is to keep the same time every day.
Just pick any time of the day or night that you can afford. And make it a habit.
To take it to another level, find a spiritually-powerful word that you feel comfortable repeating (chanting) to yourself. Then chant it during those times you seat in meditation.
There' are higher forms of meditation, but start somewhere.
With time, you'll begin to see aspects of life that your physical senses cannot perceive. And as you become more aware of the visible and invisible aspects of life around you, you begin to worry less.
You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.
You have a great deal of unused capacity, which you have not turned to your advantage.
Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside.
You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations.
You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others statements without satisfactory proof.
You have a tendency to be critical of yourself.
At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.
At times you are extroverted, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved.
While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them.
I meditated even though sometimes it gave me headaches but now i can easily sit 2-3 hours.
I suspect there may be other explanations at least as plausible.
That makes sense if you believe in reincarnation.
Apparently, others parsed it as "(past life) patterns and inclinations", which does sound like an unsubstantiated claim about reincarnation.
Thank you for helping me understand the skepticism expressed in this branch of the comment tree.
I do think it starts to S curve on the benefits received against time committed. When you get to that point though, your overall life will be more than likely at a fantastic point.
So, yeah, he spends quite a bit of time meditating. That's kind of like noticing that top athletes spend a lot of time exercising.
But after getting married, having kids, and founding a startup, my meditation practice has largely dried up. There is always something vying for my attention it seems (including Hacker News).
I aspire to go on retreat again to hopefully bootstrap a daily practice. Ironically my startup is Retreat Guru!
* eyes open or closed, standing or sitting, breath or open or metta or body scanning, all are doable
It feels like a huge PR stunt to sell his certified "Transcendental Meditation®" trainings. Does anyone here have an insight into that?
To give an example, consider how this might affect authors of literature. Hemingway among others has made a big deal about writing that is 'truly honest'. Part of the difficulty there is that when you're writing, you have competing motivations in constructing all aspects from high level plot and characters to individual sentences. Some of those motivations have to do with vanity, career goals, laziness, etc. (e.g. writing in a style that establishes your intelligence, rather than because it serves communication). After enough time practicing meditation of a certain style (excellent description in the article), you start seeing the presence of these other factors as you work on things and can more easily choose to let them go.
What a heretical thought. It makes me want to read the book of the author. Somehow similar like http://www.harrybrowne.org/articles/GiftDaughter.htm
If the latter, in what way are human rights not just a human invention? What metaphysical or transcendental status do they have, and how do we know?
I say this because I would find it impossible to generalise the effects of the regular retreats I've made over the years. I recently sat for 30 days and although it was useful, I didn't find it 4 times as useful as, say, some 7 day retreats I've done. Personally I think science will never discover anything profoundly new from its studies of meditation -- watching the breath is literally just watching the breath, there's nothing else magic that we're as yet unaware of. It's just an incredibly fruitful context to work on whatever "stuff" is personally significant for you at any given time. In that sense I wouldn't be surprised if the similarly simple activity of running is also empirically associated with increased emotional catharsis, spiritual breakthrough, improved non-physical productivity, etc, etc.
It reminds me of a Zen story;
A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”
Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?
The monk replied, “I have eaten.”
Joshu said, “Then you had better wash your bowl.”
At that moment the monk was enlightened.
I recently started meditating for 20-30 minutes at a time, once or twice a day, and the eerie calmness that settles in when I'm done (for the "good" sessions) is a great feeling. I can only imagine what 10 and 60 days can do.
I know about a dozen people who have done the 10-day Goenka course. It is definitely hard work because you are meditating for around 10 hours a day, but it isn't actually what I would call hard to do; all your needs and schedule are taken care of and you just give into it.
A lot of the resistance for me was actually preparing family and clients for me being completely offline and unreachable for 10 days, and going through that was a revelation separate from the benefits of the meditation.
The recommendation I give to everyone is that if you have any interest, just book a course several months out when you think you may be able to make it. If you end up not being able to or not feeling ready, then you can very easily cancel in advance, and there is usually a waiting list anyway. However, booking a spot seems to set the wheels in motion.
FYI, there are now many articles/blog posts/etc. by people who have done these Vipissana retreats -- this Google search will find you some:
(Here's one with the details of the daily schedule (among other things), if that's of interest:
The entire time, he chants in a dead language, and they want you to blindly recite things in said dead language. He purposely plays with his accent and speaking in order to push a bit of mystical properties to what he's saying (repeating words over and over, laying on a thick accent, whereas at other times he is capable of speaking very clearly).
The actual practise may be fine, but I found the woo-factor to be incredibly high - false advertising.
Just keep at it, but don't push.
The meditation has four progressive stages leading to a highly enjoyable level of concentration. To start with five minutes per stage is a good period of practice.
1. In the first stage you use counting to stay focused on the breath. After the out-breath you count one, then you breathe in and out and count two, and so on up to ten, and then you start again at one.
2. In the second stage you subtly shift where you breathe, counting before the in-breath, anticipating the breath that is coming, but still counting from one to ten, and then starting again at one.
3. In the third stage you drop the counting and just watch the breath as it comes in and goes out.
4. In the final stage the focus of concentration narrows and sharpens, so you pay attention to the subtle sensation on the tip of the nose where the breath first enters and last leaves the body.
After completing the first 10 guided sessions, I read most of "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Henepola Gunaratana. It was good for a deeper dive into Vipassana meditation in particular and did a good job of keeping the more religious overtones to a minimum. I definitely recommend it.
It was the book I started with, and I just wanted to second this. As a lifelong skeptic by nature, finding a book that introduced meditation without the "woo" made all the difference.
For more of the same, look up the podcasts by Gil Fronsdal and Audiodharma. Like with Mindfulness in Plain English, it comes from a Buddhist starting point but he goes to the same length to keep the religious parts out of it.
Just you, in your home, for 5 minutes every day.
(I am no way affiliated with this company)
So it works for a particular type of meditation, if you're relaxed in a particular way, if the battery level and contacts are good, if the initial calibration went well. It's great for starting/restarting a meditation habit but I would say one outgrows it fairly quickly.
Edit: the following pay-what-you-want course really helped me; it even improved my Muse scores! I have no affiliation.
Step 2: Don't get distracted. If you get distracted, go to step 1.
Expect to get distracted a lot, like your mind wandering continuously. The key here is to observe that happening, and gently bring yourself back to your breath. Don't let it frustrate or discourage you. Watching yourself become distracted and gently bringing yourself back is part of the process of meditating, not some sign that you're failing at it. The noticing of the distraction is in itself mindfulness.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests, you need to approach this with non-judgmental moment-to-moment awareness.
I happen to own more Audible credits than I can spend. If anyone wants to listen to the audio book, email me and I can give away around 20 copies. Contact info is in my HN profile.
I highly recommend it.
Also, I think meditation is very practical, so just try to sit 5 minutes, forcing thoughts to go away. That's it.
A common example is to compare the mind to the surface of some body of water: it starts rough and active and you'd like it to be still. However, any mental action you take in attempt to still it (as opposed to allowing it to settle on its own) is akin to using your hands to 'settle' the water's surface; you just disturb it more.
They have locations all over the world and are run by volunteers. It is not affiliated with any religion.
I highly recommend it! (I have done two 10-day retreats)
I have never seen the word 'obama' used like that. Is that a typo?
Edit: NEVER MIND - I got duped by a joke extension that I forgot I had added a long time ago.
What does "the trump of Homo sapiens" mean?
Victory in natural selection?
Wouldn't that be "the trump by Homo sapiens"?
English is strange.
"Trump of homo sapiens" means they were victorious, as they trumped the other party.