who should not meditate

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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DNS
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who should not meditate

Post by DNS »

Good article (imo) by Piya Tan this week. Piya Tan was a Theravada monk for over 20 years and he teaches vipassana/Theravada, but his comments on meditation could apply for any Buddhist tradition.
1 Meditation is generally safe for most people, but there are re­port­ed cases and studi­es noting some adverse effects.[1] From one-third to one-half of participants of long silent medi­ta­tion retreats (two weeks to three months) in the West reported increased tension, anxiety, confu­sion, and depress­ion.[2] In an article well publicized on the Internet, Jack Kornfield confesses that in vipassanā practice,

At least half the students who came to three-month retreats couldn’t do the simple “bare atten­tion” practices because they were holding a great deal of unresolved grief, fear, wounded­ness, and unfinished business from the past. I also had an opportunity to observe the most successful group of meditators—including experienced students of Zen and Tibe­tan Buddhism —who had developed strong samadhi and deep insight into imperma­nence and selflessness. Even after many intensive retreats, most of the meditators continued to experience great difficulties and significant areas of attachment and unconsciousness in their lives, including fear, difficulty with work, relat­ion­­ships wounds, and closed hearts. (Kornfield 2003)

2 On the other hand, most of these very same participants also reported very positive effects from their meditation practice. The vulnerable margin of participants usually includes those who are under some kind of medica­tion, or have a psychiatric history or some kind of undisclosed personal disorder. There have been a few reports that intensive meditation could cause or worsen symptoms in people who have certain psychiatric problems, but this question has not been fully researched.

Such studies do suggest, however, that meditation may not be recommended for people with psych­o­­tic disorders, severe depression, and other severe personality disorders, unless they are also receiving psychological or medical treatment, and closely monitored so that they can receive support whenever needed. Individuals who are aware of an underlying psychiatric disorder who wish to take up meditation should speak with a mental health professional or experienced instructor before doing so.[3]

3 Obviously, for some people, the “vipassana” method does not always work, or does not always work by itself. Meditation for beginners is likely to succeed when the following minimum conditions are present:

(1) Participants with emotional or psychological issues have them resolved first.

(2) The instructor is an experienced teacher, with sufficient spiritual training.

(3) Breath meditation and lovingkindness cultivation are taught in a balanced manner.

(4) The group is small, say, not more than fifteen participants per group.

(5) The environment is quiet and conducive, and there are basic standing rules.

(6) The length of sitting is flexible, depending on the student’s ability and inclination.

(7) The instructor keeps to an ethical code and is easily available for related consultation.

4 Psychotherapists and other professional specialists trained in meditation may be effect­ive medi­ta­tion instructors for beginners, even for intermediate levels. However, for more advanced prac­tice, the teacher must be firmly founded on Buddhist meditation, if the students are to real­ly bene­fit.

5 Even if religious experience can be scientifically induced [8.1], it is still a feeling like love, faith and compass­ion, which cannot be meaningfully induced by the most sophisticated scientific instru­ment, short of man himself. This is a matter of consciousness working upon itself: only the mind can in­duce such states. The best tool for cultivating inner stillness is a hearty meditation.[4]
http://www.themindingcentre.org/dharmaf ... te-516.pdf
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Nemo
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Re: who should not meditate

Post by Nemo »

The missing ingredient for those without a severe psychiatric condition is bravery. Most are terrified of going through the pain of past trauma. The way through is letting it be painful. It may feel like emptying an Olympic swimming pool one bucket at a time but with discipline eventually the pool will be empty.
Miorita
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Re: who should not meditate

Post by Miorita »

Thanks for the info!
It explains why some groups of people develop many cancers from which they die. It is due to accumulated traumas.
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: who should not meditate

Post by Kim O'Hara »

DNS wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 5:26 pm Good article (imo) by Piya Tan this week. ...

http://www.themindingcentre.org/dharmaf ... te-516.pdf
:thanks:

Yes, that's very good.

:namaste:
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Genjo Conan
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Re: who should not meditate

Post by Genjo Conan »

Miorita wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 7:00 pm Thanks for the info!
It explains why some groups of people develop many cancers from which they die. It is due to accumulated traumas.
Or, you know, carcinogens.
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Re: who should not meditate

Post by Miorita »

DNS wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 5:26 pm ... could apply for any Buddhist tradition...
So it's a possibility and he contemplates the idea of extending it to Vajrayana Buddhism after he quit being a monastic.

Genjo Conan wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 1:57 am
Miorita wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 7:00 pm Thanks for the info!
It explains why some groups of people develop many cancers from which they die. It is due to accumulated traumas.
Or, you know, carcinogens.
It does not mean that I want to further detail on cancer causes. It does not apply to the issue I'm looking into.
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Queequeg
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Re: who should not meditate

Post by Queequeg »

There are plenty of people who would benefit from other kinds of cultivation much more than samatha/vipashyana. Sraddha, silla, karuna, metta, upechka, mudita, buddhanasmirti. But we Buddhists are often at fault for sometimes suggesting those kinds of practices are lesser, when they are not. At least some absorb those attitudes and insist on jumping in the deep end when they don't know how to swim. And many meditation teachers I would say are not qualified to do anything but teach meditation, having had no other training, ESPECIALLY, outside an actual Buddhist community.

Personally, I'm more circumscribed and would counsel against people taking a multi-day retreat when they've had no or little training and practice. I think its a little irresponsible for accepting people like that into a multi day retreat without at first vetting them - a more than just a questionaire.

But, meditation is a business, inside and outside the Buddhist community, and depends on turnover for profits, so...
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
-Guanding, Perfect and Sudden Contemplation,
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: who should not meditate

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Genjo Conan wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 1:57 am
Miorita wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 7:00 pm Thanks for the info!
It explains why some groups of people develop many cancers from which they die. It is due to accumulated traumas.
Or, you know, carcinogens.
:rolling:
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook produces outward insight.
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