Meditation and Metacognition

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Hobbes
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Hobbes » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:25 pm

Smashter wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:46 pm

- Mainly, I wanted a reliable way to calm my racing thoughts and bring about feelings of ease and equanimity. And I got that! I can now reliably sit with my breath and just be. It’s cool.
and
Smashter wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:46 pm
- I felt like I was at an inflection point, where if I wanted to make quicker progress I would have had to go on a retreat. I did not want to go on a retreat.
Those quotes have an odd tension. #1 declares you reached your goal with meditation, and #2 declares that your progress towards...something...is too slow. Me confused.
Smashter wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:46 pm
- I was spending 1-2 hours a day meditating and I wanted that time back for other things. It was feeling more like an obligation than a passion.

Maybe it’s something to do with how I’m wired, but I started to feel like I had a choice: I could kick things up a notch and make meditation my main thing in life, or I could ease off the pedal and meditate whenever I felt like it. I chose the latter.

No regrets!
Out of curiosity: why do you say you'd need to make meditation your main thing in life? Seems to me going from 1-2 hours a day to...whole life mission is kicking things up quite a bit!

Smashter
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Smashter » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:15 am

I was thinking of my progress toward enlightenment in the sense described in this book, which became my bible of sorts. You can achieve a whole lot before you get to the end of the path.*

And I totally agree with your point about making it my "life mission" being a big jump. It's very extreme. That's what I was aiming at with the bit about "maybe it's the way I'm wired." I like to be all in, or all out.** The only thing worth doing in moderation is moderation :D. I'm working on getting better at that.


* Then there is a path after the path. And a few more paths. And then, apparently, you "cycle through the stages of insight" over and over, whether you want to or not, for the rest of your life. So the journey is never really over. Or something like that.

**To be clear, in my mind meditating every once in a while still counts as being "all out" in this context

FrugalPatat
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by FrugalPatat » Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:04 am

After having my first experiences with LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and mdma in university I was reading a lot of books on these substances because I wanted to understand what was happening when under the influence of them. That's when I read about the relation between the psychedelic experience and eastern philosophy / religion; and by extension meditation/yoga.

I've been meditation ever since (about 11-12 years and going). I was using meditation to try to get back to the essence of some of these states of minds. So I already had these psychedelic states of mind as a 'states of reference' when starting my meditation journey.

Today my routine consists of sitting on the floor in a cross-legged way for 20 minutes for 4 times a week. I observe the thoughts and sensations; at the very least this calms and centers me and brings me in the moment and gives a feeling of peace. It improves my relationship with the stressors, anxieties etc in my life; I can more easily accept them. It made me more tolerant of unpleasant situations and gave me an increase in emotional self control. Though sometimes not in a good way; I can get preoccupied with extreme delayed gratification (at too high of a cost in the present). I also feel like I can make better decisions about what I want in life.

When I was younger I experimented with duration and length. If I meditate longer than 20 minutes or more frequently then I can enter a profound state of peace and I get prone to feelings of extreme joy. But I am less desiring of this state than when I was in my early twenties. I need a balanced amount of inner tension; and 4 times of 20 minutes a week gives me just that.

Increasing even more the frequency/duration and it becomes possible to enter a state of complete detachment of earthly stressors. I don't find this a desirable state of mind.

Hobbes
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Hobbes » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:24 pm

FrugalPatat wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:04 am
When I was younger I experimented with duration and length. If I meditate longer than 20 minutes or more frequently then I can enter a profound state of peace and I get prone to feelings of extreme joy. But I am less desiring of this state than when I was in my early twenties. I need a balanced amount of inner tension; and 4 times of 20 minutes a week gives me just that.

Increasing even more the frequency/duration and it becomes possible to enter a state of complete detachment of earthly stressors. I don't find this a desirable state of mind.
I don't quite follow: are these states you describe the 2nd and 4th jhanas, respectively?
Smashter wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:15 am
I was thinking of my progress toward enlightenment in the sense described in this book, which became my bible of sorts. You can achieve a whole lot before you get to the end of the path.*

And I totally agree with your point about making it my "life mission" being a big jump. It's very extreme. That's what I was aiming at with the bit about "maybe it's the way I'm wired." I like to be all in, or all out.** The only thing worth doing in moderation is moderation :D. I'm working on getting better at that.
Ah, gotcha :lol: ; that book is perfect for you, as Daniel is much the same in the lack of moderation department, from what I have read. But if you are where I think you are in your meditation, changing your goal from perfecting the concentration to going all out for enlightnement is still an extreme switch.
Can you reliably enter the jhanas, at will? If not, you might want to master those. They bring a ton of benefits all on their own. Not to mention entering the jhanas is essential for giving you a stable, non-threatened platform from which to consider why you cling to the things you cling to (ie, what's the allure of clinging?). Having a stable focus point allows you to see why the mind moves away from that stable focus point, in other words.

Being an all in sort of person is great and all, but you might want to consider setting more gradual goals for yourself (if meditation still is of interest to you). Remember that the path is like a long, winding road going up a mountain. Rather than trying to take the top of the mountain by storm, maybe focus on the next leg of the road?
Smashter wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:15 am

* Then there is a path after the path. And a few more paths. And then, apparently, you "cycle through the stages of insight" over and over, whether you want to or not, for the rest of your life. So the journey is never really over. Or something like that.
I'm not sure what you're referring to here. Once the path is complete, that means you've abandoned the cause of suffering. In the context of (Theravada) Buddhism, there really isn't any paths after that. You're done. If you've really reached the end of the path, then the choice to cling to something (ie, think about it repeatedly) would be optional on your part; hence, it would be your choice to think about these stages of insight you speak of.
But, full disclosure: I don't think Daniel is an arahant. I think he's reached stream entry, but I don't think he's further along than that. So I tend to be cautious about his descriptions of the states after stream entry.

Smashter
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Smashter » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:25 am

I got pretty good at entering jhanas 1-3, but I was by no means a master. If I were to get back into a regimented practice I would start with a lot of jhana work, as I did enjoy them.

As for the path stuff, that's just what I took away from the Daniel Ingram book. Maybe I misunderstood, but he made it sound like there were paths on paths on paths.

If he's not really an arahat, that throws everything into question! Including how much anyone can know about how is and who isn't enlightened. When there are arguably no objective measures for that kind of stuff, it gets confusing.

Hobbes
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Hobbes » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:34 pm

Smashter wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:25 am
I got pretty good at entering jhanas 1-3, but I was by no means a master. If I were to get back into a regimented practice I would start with a lot of jhana work, as I did enjoy them.
Aha! You're further along than I was thinking; very good! If you are interested, I'd say go for mastering the 1st jhana (by which I mean you can set an intention of entering the first jhana, and then follow through and reliably enter the 1st jhana without too much difficulty).
Smashter wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:25 am
As for the path stuff, that's just what I took away from the Daniel Ingram book. Maybe I misunderstood, but he made it sound like there were paths on paths on paths.
It's been awhile since I last read Daniel's book, so maybe he was meaning something else? Or perhaps my knowledge of late-stage Buddhism is lacking :?
Smashter wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:25 am
If he's not really an arahat, that throws everything into question! Including how much anyone can know about how is and who isn't enlightened. When there are arguably no objective measures for that kind of stuff, it gets confusing.
I suppose I'm something of a traditionalist on the definition of arahantship, in that I define it pretty much as the Pali Canon defines it (the fetter model). That definition is a very strict one, and is indeed rarely achieved, but I believe that several past monks have attained it (Ajahn Fuang and Ajahn Suwat come to mind, so it's at least achievable in other words). Yet if I'm going to label someone 'enlightened,' you'd think the bar would be pretty high, right :D ?

But no doubt the current situation is rather confusing. For one, we don't know how mucked up the Pali Canon got from the Buddha to when the Canon was written (a difference in time of a few centuries!). For another, most monks will not answer if you ask them what attainments they have\have not, so it can seem like there are no arahants out there. And lastly, discussing what constitutes nibanna can even be a taboo (despite it being the goal of the practice :shock: )
It's all almost enough to piss off a priest :P

trfie
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by trfie » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:01 am

BadHorse wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:35 am
A while back I was talking to a neuroscientist studying the effect of meditation. They were looking for consistent changes in patterns of brain activity. Problem was, the patterns were all over the place! They saw changes in individuals, but changes were, well, individual. No obvious common pattern. I haven't followed up on it, so don't know what they eventually concluded. But maybe there is just a large variation in how meditation is perceived and its effects?

Personally, I (think I) recognize the experience that @bryan and @jacob talk about. It's a great state to be in, but it's also quite distinct from some of the experiences I've had while meditating. To each their own, I guess.
I'm not sure what study this was or when it was done, but brain patterns during meditation has been extensively studied, eg some at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, and there are stark and reliable differences in the brain patterns of veteran meditators vs. novice meditators.

jennypenny
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by jennypenny » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:48 am

I just finished reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris. The first half is an autobiography which is probably necessary to understand his journey; the second half focuses on the benefits of meditation. I liked it because I related to his overactive, overly-intense brain. His story-telling is amusing and some of the anecdotes are interesting. If you struggle with meditation you might like the book. It's light but entertaining and has some useful suggestions for novices or people who struggle with it.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by ThisDinosaur » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:07 pm

BadHorse wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:35 am
A while back I was talking to a neuroscientist studying the effect of meditation. They were looking for consistent changes in patterns of brain activity. Problem was, the patterns were all over the place! They saw changes in individuals, but changes were, well, individual. No obvious common pattern.
Were all subjects taught the same technique? Did any of them feel like they were "failing" at it?

I've read about and tried several different approaches to meditation, and they all feel very different. And some are more difficult than others. The daoist concept of Wu Wei implies that if you are "trying" to meditate, then you're doing it wrong.

Here's my new favorite quote regarding meditation:
Alan Watts wrote:Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.
Since my issue is too much inward focus, most kinds of meditation feel counterproductive. OTOH, directing attention AWAY from my mind allows all the swirling crap to settle while I'm ignoring it.

bryan
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by bryan » Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:50 pm

Well.. I just started watching Wild Wild Country about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho). I recall it being mentioned earlier in the forums but only thing I could find is this, suggesting ERE folks doing something similar (to make their community).

That (the meditation techniques seem to blend in some therapy-like mechanisms?) plus the SSC review that mentions "give you heroin-level euphoria" has somewhat piqued my interest.

I wonder how much, which parts of "meditation" is "boredom" (or removing, filtering out stimuli). How important is that? Interestingly, there have been some stretches over the last year where I've had non-diverse stimuli and I've observed how my mind and body react. The most obvious observation was that my dreams were very easy to remember and un-interesting (since they were always dealing with the limited stimuli of the day). I'm not a big fan.

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Bankai
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Bankai » Sun Apr 21, 2019 3:30 pm

I've been meditating fairly consistently (~6x / week) for a couple of months now and I'm close to throwing in the towel.

I started with a few minutes and I gradually built up to 20 minutes every morning. However, I just don't see how this benefits me. Since this could be due to a number of reasons, describing what I actually do and how I feel might help.

I sit in a lotus position with eyes closed and focus on breathing. I count each breath in and out until I get to 10 and then start again. I also do 4x4 (4-sec breath in, 4-sec hold, 4-sec out, 4-sec hold, repeat 4 times). In moments when I'm fully present, I focus either on sounds around me or on sensations in different parts of my body. Most of the time though, I find myself chasing random thoughts crossing my head - this sometimes takes 30 seconds or longer before I realise I'm not present and refocus. I don't feel fundamentally different in any way while meditating. Focusing on several sounds at the time is quite an interesting feeling, but that's about it. I don't feel any calmer or more focused during or after, or in any way different/better.

So far, after ~50 sessions, I just feel like this is not for me. Have anyone else experienced this? Or am I doing something fundamentally wrong/should stick with it longer/try guided meditation first?

chenda
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by chenda » Sun Apr 21, 2019 3:42 pm

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Bankai
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Bankai » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:47 pm

My takeaway from this is that there's no conclusive science behind meditation. However, there was (is?) no conclusive science behind fasting either. Which is something most major religions figured out somehow and were practising for its benefits for millennia while science only now starts to understand complex mechanisms behind it.

This audio could've been summarised in 5 minutes, was kinda bloated unnecessarily to half an hour.

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