Monday, September 30, 2019

Critical investigations, trials and reviews

So, we may well not find any purely good ideas.  That doesn't mean that all ideas or paths are equal. I have found, along with others, that sitting still and quiet for 10 minutes, helps keep me grounded. Recently, I mentioned Prof. Willoughby Britton of Brown University and the investigations of her lab into downsides of meditation practice.  I quoted her last name incorrectly but Britton is the correct name. She and her colleagues have been looking into "challenging experiences" that meditation practices have produced in some people.  

I am interested in similarities and differences between Buddhist, especially Tibetan, practices, Quaker approaches and secular US practices.  Dr. Britton is a neuroscientist but Buddhist and Quaker practices relate deeply to religious ideas. The book "The Body Keeps the Score" by Harvard psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk is about trauma, especially military and sexual trauma. He emphasizes that ideas of what hurts people and what heals them have changed quite a bit since the Civil War.  We are more or less moving from blaming and punishing to nurturing.  

I think so far that ideas about difficulties with meditation have focused on emerging unpleasant, frightening memories in the mind of the meditator.  I suspect that at some future time, changes in one's drive and ambition may be noted. Of course, as one ages, it may well be that some goals no longer have the draw that they did. I see articles about difficulties with capitalism, commercialization and money being the basis of so much of our lives.  I suspect it is easier to imagine some wonderland of milk and honey than it is to actually live without hard work, disappointments and aging. I hope we don't mistakenly worsen the quality of life while searching for better paths.

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