A recent article in the Telegraph newspaper has suggested that meditation can be bad for your mental health. Read the article and then my comments below. I’ll be interested in your views.
Today for many everything has to be done to the extreme and done now. Meditation has of late become “trendy” but by its very definition, it takes time to learn; there’s no fast track.
Meditation – the process of quietening the mind in order to spend time in thought for relaxation or religious/spiritual purposes (definition from Yogapedia).
The simplest way to begin meditating is to stop whatever you’re doing, sit comfortably and concentrate on breathing more slowly and deeply while keeping the breath’s natural rhythm. Building the capacity to quieten the mind has undeniable value at a time when our attention is under siege, and trying to do several things at one time our habitual state. Done even for a few minutes each day, it’s also valuable as a means to relax the body and calm the emotions.
Mindfulness meditation – for those wanting to go further with techniques such as Vipassana or Koan. (A koan is a riddle or puzzle that Zen Buddhists use during meditation to help them unravel greater truths about the world and about themselves.)
Vipassana is meditation that concentrates on the body, its sensations and the insight which this provides (deconstructive meditation). It’s an advanced technique, unsuitable for those unused to sitting still and relaxing. It involves learning to experience thoughts, feelings and sensations as they arise, letting them pass, without becoming involved. Those feelings however may represent unsolved areas of difficulty in life, such as loneliness, relationships, depression, childhood hurts, or patterns of fear that the novice might be unable to deal with without qualified outside help. For a beginner therefore, such meditation could be an unpleasant experience.
If you want to read more about Vipassana, I suggest the book Teach Us to Sit Still, by Tim Parks. It’s a very interesting read.
If you’re interested in learning more about the origins of mindfulness and meditation search for Jack Kornfield who was one of the first Americans to bring the practice to the West. He said that: “In the modern world, meditation is far more effective as a technique of self-management than as a means of personal transformation, much less enlightenment. “