Monday 12 September 2016

Useful meditation - clarity and brooding

I suspect meditation is not a thing which is supposed to have a 'standard technique' (therefore exactly the kind of thing which is typical of alienated modern consciousness which we are aiming to heal).

Furthermore, the language used to discuss such matters seems to be extremely difficult to understand.

However, two things I have found useful are clarity and brooding - meditation as a state characterised by clarity and brooding.

Clarity is tricky to explain. I find that most of the time I exist in a cloudy kind of state, which is partly sleepy, often headachey, mostly automatic, mostly passive - dictated by either sensations or memories. But by thinking in terms of clarity, I can sometimes dissolve the clouds and come-to-awareness of myself and my actual situation, moment-by-moment.

It doesn't last very long (seconds or minutes) but everything seems more real - and it seems to be a positive state.

Brooding is a concept that I contrast with 'concentration'. With meditation we need to take control pursue purpose (as contrasted with passively drifting through life being acted-upon) - but any kind of 'concentration' seems to revert to normal modern reductionist, positivist, scientistic thinking - like doing an exam.

By brooding, I aim to stay on the same theme (perhaps by note-taking, or reading short passages), but in a slower and looser way than 'concentrating' on it; I am circling round-and-round the topic, examining the theme from many angles - somewhat like the moon orbiting earth; rather than concentrating attention like a concave mirror focusing sunlight on a tiny aspect of reality.

If I can get myself into a state characterised by a clarity of brooding, and hold it for a while, then I seem to get my best insights and understandings - although nothing is guaranteed, and more often than not there aren't any specially remarkable consequences.

But since clarity of brooding is a pleasant concious state to be-in; it is rewarding in and of itself. 

1 comment:

Tom Ellis said...

I feel that an important distinction needs to be made between meditation and brooding. The connotations of the latter often involve morbid preoccupation, whether with worries or anxieties or obsessions. True meditation, in my view, is the polar opposite: it is letting go of these, and calmly abiding in the present moment--in the presence of God--which enables one to let go of attachment to past regrets or resentments, or future hopes and fear. And mantras, or repeated words or phrases, are rather like training wheels for meditation.

My favorite Christian mantra is the one at the center of the Prayer of Jesus: "Thy will be done." When one is suffering, mentally or otherwise, a good variant on this is the Gesthemane Prayer: "Lord, please take this cup from me, not as I will but as Thou wilt." Both of these, I find, when repeated mindfully, can become useful antidotes to toxic brooding of any sort.