Episode 24


Meditation Is For Hippies And Witchdoctors

Meditation is for whiny, sissy, crunchy granola beatniks and voodoo quack shaman-wannabes who can’t handle the real world. Right?

In this episode I discuss not just how those judgements are wrong, but how and why meditation and mindfulness have gained such significant traction in the medical scientific community, and why it's such a good idea to engage in yourself.

Going to the gym and strength training improves muscle strength, so why wouldn’t it also make sense that analogous training, practice, repetition might also aid us in our general thinking, in our thinking about thinking, in emotional control, or any other private mental action?

Meditation is just a name given to the exercise of intentional thinking, an exercise in the mental gym.

When it comes to your sleep, there are really two big takeaways with meditation in particular, and mindfulness practices in general. The first involves the skill of attention; the second, the skill of unattached dispassionate nonjudgemental awareness of mental activity and insights garnered from that awareness regarding the nature of the mind.

Every time your mind inevitably wanders (whether you are trying to sleep or not) is an opportunity to practice and cultivate the mental skill of attention. You can't escape the mind wandering, but the more that you are practiced in redirecting attention after a lapse, the less distracted you will be and the easier you can focus on whatever your intention is (such as relaxing in preparation for sleep). 

Every time your mind inevitably wanders also provides an opportunity for nonjudgmental awareness - to see your mental activity for what it is: thoughts, sensations, emotions. Mental activity is not the absolute truth, it is not unbiased fact, it is not a directive; it is just mental activity. And the more practiced you become at being aware of mental activity that just comes and goes - frequently automatically or even against your will! - the less attached you'll be to the little dictator in your head and all its demands, and the more able you will be to appreciate that you are not your thoughts and just because you had a thought doesn't make it absolute truth. 

Meditation is not some woo woo magical thinking taking you on a fools errand. It is simply the mental gym. Meditation just like any other exercise requires time and practice to get better and better. But improving the process of your thinking, reducing the judgements of yourself for some automatic thought you had, improving your recognition of emotions before they move you to an action you would not prefer - the gradual process of becoming a better you is the ultimate worthy endeavor.


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