What is meditation? #
To try to answer this question, I have studied the contemplative traditions of many of the world’s major religions. For example,
- Christianity ✝️
- Islam ☪️
- Hinduism 🕉️
- Buddhism (Vajrayāna, Mahāyāna, & Zen)
- Daoism (Taoism) ☯️
- Judaism 🕎
I have also studied with a handful of contemporary meditation teachers.1 What I learned is that there is not much consensus about the precise definition of meditation. I prefer to define meditation in IFS terms:
Meditation becomes possible when you are not identified with your parts. Meditation occurs when some proportion of your being is free to radiate Self energy.
In some traditions, there is a notion of enlightenment or liberation that demarcates some stage of personal transformation. However, we should not be satisfied with personal transformation of any degree; The appropriate benchmark for attainment is global, societal transformation. Everybody should have the opportunity to climb Maslow’s pyramid.
Meditation Techniques #
Meditation is more like a dance than a desk lamp 🪔. There are moves to learn. The techniques that I describe in sub-sections assume that you are already proficient in meditation. Without a basic competence in effortless meditation, you may not obtain any benefit from these techniques. Moreover, these techniques may not work when under the influence of psychedelics.
On breathing #
Use an inspiratory muscle training device to improve your breathing mechanics.
The only meditation technique that I am familiar with is here.
There are other interesting techniques (Holotropic Breathwork, Wim Hof Method2) with which I have little experience.
On mantras, prayers, poetry, music #
In a solo context, there is potential for spiritual bypass. A mantra recited vigorously can pave over and hide unaddressed parts with unaddressed issues that would otherwise be in dialog filling your head with thoughts. Suppression is not a good long-term strategy.
In a group context, prayers and music can help synchronize individuals and invite communitas.3
The best time to practice meditation is 4:30 to 9:00 (am and pm) in your local time zone.
Sample Schedule #
|morning||drink green tea 🍵||-|
|withdrawal of the senses||10 min|
|lunch||eat calmly and undistracted4||-|
|before dinner||foot soak & withdrawal of the senses||15 min|
|before sleep||ice on the liver||15 min|
This is just a sample schedule. Customize as per your preference.
Carney, S. (2017). What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength. Rodale. ↩︎
Turner, E. (2012). Communitas: The anthropology of collective joy. Springer. ↩︎
Calm and undistracted meals are generally a good idea, but particularly important for lunch. ↩︎