mjj (flemmings) wrote,

The perils of meditation

(Using the rain icon though it isn't actually raining. It's sun and steaming. But it was sun and steaming when I went to the cafe this morning and sat with my back to the window, only to hear an exclamation from the man across from me. Turned round to see the skies mud grey and the water cascading down; and this, I understand, is likely to recur all weekend.)

Tim Parks has an article in The Guardian about how meditating worked for him, in the wake of recent warnings that meditation can have undesirable side-effects. I'm bemused by the notion that meditation is dangerous! because it brings up all kinds of scary feelings and memories!! Like, if you don't meditate, the scary feelings and memories will stay away and not ever emerge? I suppose they mean one should be aware this will happen and have a notion how to deal with it: which the books I've read do indeed tell you. Not all, agreed: many of the Zen ones focus on enlightenment and care not what happens to you while you're getting there.

I liked this passage:
Perhaps Dr Wise was right that there was no point in trying this on your own. Again and again his book made the double gesture of first explaining very carefully to you how to get well, then warning that the procedure he recommended is far too complex for you to undertake on your own. ... This was not, or not only, I realised now, to lure you to his clinic, but out of a genuine, control freak’s anxiety that if he, Dr Wise, wasn’t there in person, there was no way you, Tim Parks, would get things right.
How well I remember that one: this is how it's done but you can't do it. I think Parks is being charitable in ascribing it to anxiety on someone else's behalf and not an innate conviction that Only I Know The Way. Humility is not a quality often found in masters of anything.
Tags: religion, rl_14

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