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6 Things I Learned about Myself through 100 Hours of Meditation
June 11, 2012 5:54 PM   Subscribe

6 Things I Learned about Myself through 100 Hours of Meditation
posted by Brandon Blatcher (80 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whoa, this is weird timing because I just started getting into Zen Buddhist meditation (shikantaza). It's really not easy just sitting and being, even for 20 minutes. I actually find it harder to do more formal zazen meditation (in the Soto tradition(?) of just sitting and "staring" at a blank wall) than to sit outside in the backyard with the background noise of our little pond and waterfall and looking at the reflective surface of the pond, or even sitting on the subway and listening to some chanting on my iPhone. But actually sitting, trying to do and think of nothing (other than counting the breath maybe), is really difficult work.

Anyway, thanks for posting this Brandon.
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:11 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, the first two things I have learned from every time I meditated is that: boy I really think a lot and hey, I could really use some meditation.

(followed swiftly by: hey! I'm not thinking about anything! I'm really good at meditation! I could think about nothing all day.)
posted by shothotbot at 6:16 PM on June 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


I expect she will be disappointed if she continues. One of the things I've learned in about 5000 hours of meditation is that I don't have control over my reactions. Developing the capacity to "sit back and look at our emotions" is hard work, and then there's the whole nonself thing which makes the idea of control problematic in itself.
posted by fivebells at 6:18 PM on June 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


I once read a good (and effective) trick to meditating, which is to not try and think of nothing - but rather to just hold onto each thought until it goes away out of sheer boredom.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:22 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've heard the trick is to somehow throw yourself at a train of thought, then miss.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:46 PM on June 11, 2012 [40 favorites]


If you make it to age 50 with your body and mind more or less intact, you get alot of those insights for FREE. Sort of.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:48 PM on June 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


The zen of boredom fights the hunger of narcissism.
posted by Max Power at 6:49 PM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


This article feels weirdly generic. Like, these are the 6 things she knows you're supposed to learn. Even when such classic lessons turn out to be true, in order to make them true for myself I usually have to wind up learning a lot of strange, unexpected shit along the way.

"Huh. I notice that contrary to my previous belief, I do actually enjoy homicidal fantasies, as long as there is a bear as proxy." "Falling asleep in the meditation hall would not actually have negative consequences. So why is the microsecond experience a fear?" "Why yes, I could happily spend eternity in this moment in this parking lot!"
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:52 PM on June 11, 2012 [38 favorites]


One of the sayings I've found both infuriating and helpful is, "It takes some time for the gourd to grow over the east wall." (Sorry, I can't find a source, but I'm thinking it was Dainin Katagiri Roshi.) And amusing.
posted by sneebler at 6:55 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Watching the watcher. Meditation can be many things. Mindlessness is only one technique. I found when I quit trying and just let it be it feels the most natural for me. Right now is always and besides food, water and air you don't need much more. I would think if you hadn't learned to surrender after 10 days of trying 10 hours a day you are trying too hard. Detachment from the world isn't that hard, when you have nothing there is nothing to worry about. The trick is to remember this is a game and not to let yourself get too caught up in it.
Everything that can happen does happen that is reality. You choose the meaning of what you attend to.
posted by pdxpogo at 6:57 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Artful Codger: "If you make it to age 50 with your body and mind more or less intact, you get alot of those insights for FREE. Sort of."

I think it was really just poor phrasing on her part. These are all things that you know before you even start meditating. They're things that meditation leaders will tell you beforehand, too, so even if you're startlingly non-introspective, you'll still know them before you start. I think it's more like, say, a person recounting a trip to the Sahara desert, saying, "Man, it was hot. I mean, I knew it would be hot before I went, but really, it was hot."

Hopefully, of course, this isn't all she'll come away from the mediation with. Otherwise, she could have saved 99 hours and 50 minutes of her 100 hour meditation retreat just by glancing at any website about meditation, or talking to anyone with even a remote amount of self-awareness, whether or not they've even heard of meditation.
posted by Bugbread at 6:58 PM on June 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


"I spent 100 hours thinking about nothing and all I got out of it was the Serenity Prayer."
posted by bpm140 at 7:05 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you ever spend 100 hours meditating... on weed?
posted by cmoj at 7:06 PM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


In Sitting Still, a Bench Press for the Brain
posted by homunculus at 7:06 PM on June 11, 2012


This article feels weirdly generic.

We're all the same, in some fundamental ways. I was going to write that my conclusions after six years of daily meditation are much the same as hers, except for #6 - I don't see meditation as different than right now, or a way to disconnect.
posted by sneebler at 7:09 PM on June 11, 2012


This article feels weirdly generic. Like, these are the 6 things she knows you're supposed to learn.

There is knowledge gained intellectually and knowledge gained by reflection. They are two different types of wisdom, learned in different ways. It sounds like the author experienced the latter, which reinforced and deepen the intellectual wisdom. Good for her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:10 PM on June 11, 2012


Yeah, shit that you learn in a deep experiential way often sounds really trite and obvious — or even worse, totally pointless — when you try to explain it.

(Corollary: Shit that other people learned in a deep experiential way often sounds trite, obvious or pointless when they try to explain it, which is why you end up having to learn it from your own damn experience instead of just listening to theirs.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:15 PM on June 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


Eckhart Tolle suggests asking yourself, "I wonder what the next thought that will come into my head will be?" There's usually a good long space (5 seconds is "good long" for me) after that. Then, of course, when it does eventually come, label and repeat.
posted by haricotvert at 7:16 PM on June 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I hate the term "monkey mind." It's an insult to monkeys and an insult to one's thoughts.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:16 PM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


It always takes me a few minutes to calm my mind when meditating, then I have a few minutes grace (or so it seems) until my brain starts running off again. Learning to accept that and then let the train of thought die off took a while.
posted by arcticseal at 7:28 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


A very wise man once said -

After ten hours of meditation, no matter what kind of cushion you're sitting on - your ass will still be numb.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 7:30 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


(followed swiftly by: hey! I'm not thinking about anything! I'm really good at meditation! I could think about nothing all day.)
posted by shothotbot


Heh, reminds me of being hooked up to an alpha brain wave monitor: as soon as you stop thinking the needle goes up, then you think, "great! I'm not thinking," then it slams back down again.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:34 PM on June 11, 2012


"Emotions can be strong puppies."

Ha! I love it. I remember during one of the first sesshins (similar to a retreat) I did, I realized that my mind really was like a puppy: it was mostly running around in circles and peeing on stuff, but it is awfully cute.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:38 PM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


If I had to spend 100 hours in meditation, the first and foremost thing I would learn about myself is just how badly I'd be willing to sit through hours of meditation before I had to pee.
posted by surazal at 7:47 PM on June 11, 2012


I meditated for 8 months straight. The only thing I learned is that I'm a boring, awful, awful, horrid person. Or was. I was self-obsessed, and far too concerned with my own well-being to the detriment of others. Anyone who would write something called "X Things I Learned in Meditation" probably should spend more time chilling the eff out and not taking themselves so seriously.
posted by 3200 at 8:13 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I absolutely cannot think about nothing, so in my halting attempts at meditation, usually less than 1 minute, I just ask the ethers for the ability.

What I can do is play music. When I am able to utterly focus on what I'm playing, which isn't all the time, but it does happen, I can slough off all other thought for a while. I think that's one of my favorite things about group improvisation as I've been doing it lately -- you exist totally in the moment -- no remembering how the song goes -- just grabbing it out of the ethers as it flows in, and it can feel very meditative, and really calm me down. We go 20 minutes or so per piece these days, and while it's a little physically draining, it's a very soul-nourishing thing for me.

spend more time chilling the eff out and not taking themselves so seriously.


I saw a bit of an interview with Leonard Cohen where he talked about his experience at a Buddhist monastery. The first thing his guru did was send him down the hill to learn to play tennis for a couple weeks. He said he was too serious and didn't know how to have any fun, so he should go play a game.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:22 PM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


"He said he was too serious and didn't know how to have any fun, so he should go play a game."

Well. Time for me to grow my beard back out and become a guru! Also, Devils Rancher, I'm a musician, too. I know a little bit about what your talking about re: music. I'm not very good, but sometimes I touch it a little bit of it. Great feeling.
posted by 3200 at 8:34 PM on June 11, 2012


This article feels weirdly generic. Like, these are the 6 things she knows you're supposed to learn.

Despite the fact that there are quite a few of them, meditation-blogging is a weird thing. I'd say that it's main use (for me at least) is to remind me to "keep on truckin'." I really can't see much use for it aside from that, for the most part; describing meditation, especially to someone who isn't a regular practitioner, and even those who are, is kind of like painting a white canvas with white paint.
posted by seansbrain at 9:53 PM on June 11, 2012


I find that live tweeting while meditating is a great way to stay focussed.
posted by greenhornet at 10:00 PM on June 11, 2012 [20 favorites]


I absolutely cannot think about nothing

I'm just learning this new trick (meditation) and I thought that too for the longest time, but it's inaccurate. You're not trying to make your mind blank, you're trying to observe a thought then let it go. I've been listening to a lot of Jon Kabat-Zinn as I learn beginners mind. I've been able to do it, usually when I'm under tremendous stress, I'd like to be able to do that all the time.
posted by squeak at 10:04 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lesson #7) Nothing is the sound of your empty wallet flapping.
(It's good that you've learned to not think about it.)
posted by mule98J at 10:16 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I expect she will be disappointed if she continues. One of the things I've learned in about 5000 hours of meditation is that I don't have control over my reactions. Developing the capacity to "sit back and look at our emotions" is hard work, and then there's the whole nonself thing which makes the idea of control problematic in itself.
I'm not much into meditation but this is my response as well to friends who recommend it as a panacea.

We know that deep breathing can do wonders for improving focus and relieving anxiety. In that regard, meditation is a great exercise and kind be very beneficial. But it's not possible to completely override our animal nature. We are, physiologically, not that different from baboons. We're apes with computers grafted onto us. We always exist in a state of needing something external and base – food, sex, approval (even solitude must be given by others). And we are always at the whims of these basic drives, even when we think we're doing something very intellectual. The human condition is defined by this dual nature of being an animal but not really an animal, wanting to give in to anger and lust on the one hand, and wanting to compose symphonies and write novels on the other. Gaining control over that animal-self seems like what meditation is built for, but I have to wonder if it's even a very nobel mission.
posted by deathpanels at 10:30 PM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Lesson #7) Nothing is the sound of your empty wallet flapping.

Vipassana, the meditation technique the author used to gain these insights, costs nothing to attend and learn the technique. Food and lodging is completely covered.

The courses are supported by donations and work from students who have previously gone through the course.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:41 PM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Weird, I literally could not read that. I tried.

The stock photos were maybe part of the turn off? Did I imagine smugness where there wasn't any? Did the article have a pervasive aura of privileged white rich person all over it? There was just something weird and filler-ey and gross about it that I can't even identify since I couldn't even stand to skim all the way to the end!

And I meditate! Clearly, not enough though.
posted by latkes at 11:33 PM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Hmm, I postulate that these are 6 things already known by most introspective people over the age of around 25 (which might be most introverts).

It's good that there's some way for other people to figure them out though, the world would be a happier place if this stuff was clear to everyone.
posted by dickasso at 12:24 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. 100 hours of trying not to fidget just to get those trivial "insights"? I figured all that out just by spending a few happy moments looking at videos of dogs in cars.
posted by Decani at 1:49 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Life will always have its ups and downs

I think it was Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj who said "It's a funny old life".
posted by Segundus at 4:20 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The human condition is defined by this dual nature of being an animal but not really an animal, wanting to give in to anger and lust on the one hand, and wanting to compose symphonies and write novels on the other. Gaining control over that animal-self seems like what meditation is built for, but I have to wonder if it's even a very nobel mission.

Succinctly summed up in The African Queen when Bogart laments his booze being poured overboard, noting "Aw, it's just human nature, miss."

To which Hepburn responds: "Human nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put here to overcome."
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:39 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, shit that you learn in a deep experiential way often sounds really trite and obvious — or even worse, totally pointless — when you try to explain it.

You'd think one might learn this (seventh thing) then and not write articles trying to explain it. Did Christine G learn this stuff by reading an article or by meditating? The Tao that you can write an article about is not the real Tao.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:21 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Serious question from a wannabe aethetic skeptic:

Is there a brand of "meditation" without the spiritual mumbo-jumbo? Are there any schools of meditation that focus on the neurology of it, without resorting to "spirit", "soul", "chakra" or layering on new age tropes? Even if they're true, so many people use them to mean anything and everything it's genuinely off-putting to someone who's spent 40 years trying to slough off the baggage of growing up in the bible belt.
posted by DigDoug at 5:41 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


After ten hours of meditation, no matter what kind of cushion you're sitting on - your ass will still be numb.

I'd gladly trade the pain I sometimes feel in my lower back and knees when meditating for some of that numbness you're talking about.
posted by aught at 5:54 AM on June 12, 2012


without resorting to "spirit", "soul", "chakra" or layering on new age tropes?

The Tibetan monastery where I sometimes meditate and take classes does not talk about souls or chakras, only different qualities of "mind." (They do sometimes use "spirit," with its connotation of wind and movement, as a metaphor for certain states of mind.) A "soul," in the eternal and unchanging sense it is used in Western religion, does not exist for most strains of Buddhism I have encountered.
posted by aught at 6:00 AM on June 12, 2012


I found the tone of the article somewhat annoying, but her points essentially valid. She's a beginning meditator and is learning some new stuff. Great! One thing that caught my fleeting attention was the sense of achievement that seemed to be attached to much of it. This is probably going to have to go at some point, but is quite normal at the beginning of the path in my understanding.

DigDoug: Zen may provide the flavor you're looking for.
posted by nowhere man at 6:04 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a brand of "meditation" without the spiritual mumbo-jumbo? Are there any schools of meditation that focus on the neurology of it, without resorting to "spirit", "soul", "chakra" or layering on new age tropes? Even if they're true, so many people use them to mean anything and everything it's genuinely off-putting to someone who's spent 40 years trying to slough off the baggage of growing up in the bible belt.
Progressive muscle relaxation.
posted by deathpanels at 6:08 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


without resorting to "spirit", "soul", "chakra" or layering on new age tropes?

Buddism is very simple at it's core - I suggest with learning the history first of where it came from, then investigating the various paths/styles to see which one works for you. But, the concept of a soul is pretty important to the overall system. What I find fascinating is that it exists beside/alongside/outside of traditional religious belief.

I am currently listening to a series of lectures by David Eckel, going through the history of Buddism - I highly recomend it.
posted by jkaczor at 6:12 AM on June 12, 2012


DigDoug: or maybe try Jon Kabat-Zinn's approach. His interest is stress reduction and pain relief, and he's very well respected.

To which Hepburn responds: "Human nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put here to overcome."

Tim Burkett, who is a Zen teacher from Minneapolis, has a very entertaining talk where he uses The African Queen as a Buddhist metaphor.
posted by sneebler at 6:14 AM on June 12, 2012


I only occasionally practice meditation, but yeah, most of these things seem in line with what I have experienced.

I would really like to do one of these retreats at some point in my life.
posted by jonbro at 6:15 AM on June 12, 2012


>without resorting to "spirit", "soul", "chakra" or layering on new age tropes?

If you listen to John Peacock's Buddhism Before Theravada series, fascinating lectures on the earliest period of Buddhism before later corrupting influences, you'll discover that the concepts like these are precisely the ones that Buddhism is attempting to get away from. At its heart, Buddhism is anti-mystical, anti-metaphysical, anti-theistic. From our 21st century Western perspective, it's more a form of psychology than a religion.
posted by Gordion Knott at 6:33 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


At the risk of turning this into an Askme, I would recommend Stephen Batchelor's writings to anyone who wants a flavor of Buddhism that is agnostic / atheist.
posted by aught at 7:15 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


off-putting to someone who's spent 40 years trying to slough off the baggage of growing up in the bible belt

I can empathize with this, but would hazard a guess that coping with that baggage isn't about finding just the right doctrine or terminology.
posted by maniabug at 7:21 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


By which I mean, don't sweat the little stuff, meditation is hard enough no matter how it's described! :-)
posted by maniabug at 7:27 AM on June 12, 2012


I might suggest a guided meditation for beginners (such as myself). I've found Tara Brach's recordings very useful. She records the group meditations she leads every week and posts them to her site. The meditations are roughly 25 minutes long and, while similar, usually each contain a new image or thought that helps me in trying to still the chatter and center myself.
posted by the sobsister at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


My personal nugget of zen wisdom is that no-one *needs* anything. Most people just *want* things very, very much.... including things like eating, or breathing.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:46 AM on June 12, 2012


For anyone interested in learning more about meditation, whether from a Buddhist or more "secular" perspective, here are links to some of the meditation communities and teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area, many of which have lots of talks available on audio. In addition, as was cited above, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (of which John Kabat-Zinn is perhaps the best known proponent) is another approach guided by many of the same goals and principles.
posted by twsf at 8:48 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meditation is what you're doing when you have no doctrine at all.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:51 AM on June 12, 2012


One of the aspects of Vipassana meditation that is different from other forms is that it asks you to sit through three 1-hour sessions a day where you don’t move your body at all.

Sounds painful? It is.

That’s part of the point, actually. See, it’s an experiential way of understanding that pain and suffering are real things that will happen in our life whether we like it or not. The deeper suffering actually comes from constantly trying to run away from that pain instead of sitting with it.

The most interesting thing that happens when you do sit with the pain and attempt to stay non-attached is that the throbbing in your knee or the spasms in the back of your shoulder transform. Sometimes it just goes away, but at other times it turns into a miraculous light that ushers in a calmness that’s hard to experience any other way that is legal.
All those morphine receptors don't care if it's endogenous. And I still think there's a valuable distinction between "running away from pain" and choosing not to keep on doing things that hurt.
posted by flabdablet at 9:04 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone who would write something called "X Things I Learned in Meditation" probably should spend more time chilling the eff out and not taking themselves so seriously.

I've always hated the advice "chill out and don't take yourself seriously," mostly because it's the generic line that anyone hands someone whose behavior they're uncomfortable with.

Then, of course, once you do all of that, and you're all chilled and unserious, you get the line: "You need to settle down and focus and take life a little more seriously, I'm afraid."

Either way, both are surefire eternal mind-chatter fodder.
posted by blucevalo at 9:27 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there a brand of "meditation" without the spiritual mumbo-jumbo? Are there any schools of meditation that focus on the neurology of it, without resorting to "spirit", "soul", "chakra" or layering on new age tropes?

Brad Warner, the punk zen master (he would hate that description of him) or his teacher, Gudo Wafu Nishijima. Warner focuses less on scientific explanation than on functionality (i.e. how zen actually affects your outlook on life and the way you deal with things), while Nishijima describes zen as no more than humanism and believes that zen balances the autonomic nervous system.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:42 AM on June 12, 2012


"I've always hated the advice "chill out and don't take yourself seriously," mostly because it's the generic line that anyone hands someone whose behavior they're uncomfortable with."

I don't mean not to be seriously, and I don't mean not to take life seriously. I just mean don't take yourself so seriously. Big difference.
posted by 3200 at 9:55 AM on June 12, 2012


Okay, then substitute "take yourself a little more seriously" for "take life a little more seriously." I've heard that one just as frequently. I see the distinction, but the advice is still so generic that it can be taken to mean either thing or nothing at all. Taking yourself seriously, or not, can mean many different things to many different people.
posted by blucevalo at 10:25 AM on June 12, 2012


> I hate the term "monkey mind." It's an insult to monkeys and an insult to one's thoughts.

My first job as a teenager was working retail in a pet store. The tanks you buy tropical fish from are WAY overcrowded. They're not like a farmer's pasture, they're like holding pens in a stockyard. And little kids just love to bang on the glass to see the already-stressed fishies fly into a panic and dash themselves into the tank walls (or shoot out the top and onto the floor.)

"Monkey mind" just doesn't begin to describe my own thought turmoil. After my second trip to the zendo I started privately calling it kid-bangs-glass-10000-guppies-freak mind.

Comment unrelated--the year Henry Kissinger was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Esquire ruined a perfectly good koan by commenting "So that's the sound of one hand clapping."
posted by jfuller at 11:15 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I still think there's a valuable distinction between "running away from pain" and choosing not to keep on doing things that hurt.

Yeah, the pain => enlightenment model bothers me a little bit too. In my own practice, I tried to sit through the pain. And it lead to some completely unnecessary long-term inflammation and day-in-day-out pain.

Now I give the pain two minutes (14 breaths) and if it hasn't abated, my sit is over, not because "OMG I can't stand the pain must make it stop arghh arghh arghh arghh," but because I sat with it, I observed it, I saw that it was persistent, and I am making the rational choice to prevent injury.

My hips and knees are very much thankful for this modification to my practice, and I am able to sit in full lotus—something I could never achieve with the sit-through-the-pain approach.
posted by BrashTech at 11:22 AM on June 12, 2012


Meditation can't get rid of thoughts....but it can wear out the mind completely...but then you have to consider thousands of hours of sitting. Is it worth it? Nothing else is.
posted by eggtooth at 11:26 AM on June 12, 2012


I sat with it, I observed it, I saw that it was persistent, and I am making the rational choice to prevent injury.

Yeah, that's pretty much where I was at by the end of day 2. I'd completed the day's inactivities and gone to sleep, but woke up about 1am with lower back pain. So I sat and watched the breath and calmed down the internal chatter for a while, then watched the pain for a while, then thought for a while, then got on my bicycle and headed out as the first hint of the approaching dawn began to lighten the night sky.

It was a glorious ride from Woori Yallock to the future ms. flabdablet's home in Elsternwick. Just glorious.
posted by flabdablet at 11:55 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Brandon, I love you, but this article was a trite piece of crap. Does she think she's the first or even the billionth person to realize these things?

I wish people wouldn't write anything about meditation except instructions on how to do it. It's not insight if you're thinking "oh, this article said I should be realizing this or that." You're going to miss things if you're focused on doing it "right." Also the random bolding severely annoyed me. Why not trust us to read the whole thing and pick out the important parts?

Tangential: This is a really good book about a writer discovering the history of Buddhism in the context of modern-day India. (Non-fiction)
posted by desjardins at 11:59 AM on June 12, 2012


I think the article should've been a painting.
posted by yoga at 12:24 PM on June 12, 2012


Does she think she's the first or even the billionth person to realize these things?

I grew up with my mom's spicy and richly flavored and thick Gumbo. After getting married, I made some for my wife and daughter. They disliked it, because they were not used to such spicy heat and flavor. So we made a milder, blander version for them to enjoy and acclimate themselves to.

I personally find found its taste offensive and would add Tabasco sauce and filè to my bowl to get the complex flavor that was on my level.

But I did not mock and disparage others for needing a more palatable version for their own sensations.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:06 PM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The truth isn't always that tasty.
posted by eggtooth at 1:09 PM on June 12, 2012


also, the truth is an acquired taste.
posted by eggtooth at 1:13 PM on June 12, 2012


This article feels weirdly generic.

Yeah, there's not a whole lot here....

My lone advice (from one of the great writers) is "always be a beginner" (PDF)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:36 PM on June 12, 2012


The article wasn't impressive, but neither is most of the snark in here.
posted by benbenson at 2:40 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I must confess, I prefer these observations from teachers such as Ajahn Amaro, Gil Fronsdal or Jack Kornfield (or many, many others - those are just the ones I listen to most.

These are important observations, and they do need to be iterated over and over again.
posted by Grangousier at 2:54 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


DigDoug, a good friend suggested Jon Kabat-Zinn and Pema Chodron to me and have to agree both limit the amount of woo I'm adverse to too.
posted by squeak at 3:10 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Okay, then substitute "take yourself a little more seriously" for "take life a little more seriously." I've heard that one just as frequently. I see the distinction, but the advice is still so generic that it can be taken to mean either thing or nothing at all. Taking yourself seriously, or not, can mean many different things to many different people."

Ok.
posted by 3200 at 3:38 PM on June 12, 2012


For anyone interested and who has the time, the 10 day (really 11 day) Vipassina course is really worth it. 10 days without speaking isn't as easy as you'd think. After about day 5 you think you're going insane. Day 6-7 you just want to make it to the end. Day 10 was really beautiful, kind of unspeakably beautiful for me.

There is no religion involved, just some odd/unique ways to think about your own mind. You can't really appreciate sitting in silence for 14 hours a day. This is a non-trivial task - if you're sitting there saying to yourself that this is a walk in the park, you are wrong. When all you have to think about is your own physical pain (sitting still for 2 hours on the floor) you really get some introspection.

For some thoughts that haven't been mentioned up stream:
1. Men think about 3 things: A) Sex, B) Food, C) the original Star Wars Trilogy. In that order. You have visions of eating, remember every sexual encounter, and replay all the original movies (i rewatched all of Empire in my head). And at some point you go "Crap, I'm supposed to be meditating, not hallucinating.."
2. After not speaking for 10 days, when the 11th day rolls around and you get to speak, it takes about 1.5 hours to say anything. Now these are people who you've been sitting next to for over a week - it's just odd.
3. For the first few days, you start adding pillows to try and ease your pain. This gets ridiculous pretty quick - people have 6 or 7 pillows and are sitting like a foot of the ground. It doesn't help.
4. When I get the money, I'm going to open a McDonalds/Strip Joint down the street from these places and make a killing.

The article was a bit light. There is no substitution for experience. If you are thinking of going, feel free to MeMail me.
posted by Farce_First at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


That picture makes her eyes look spooky. It's like the Health Club of The Damned.
posted by jonmc at 5:06 PM on June 12, 2012


I did the 10 day Goenka Vipassana course.

In fact, my post about it was linked above. It wasn't the most boring 10 days of my life, as apparently my monkey mind just started running wild with random imagery and sounds, but, I wouldn't describe it as worth it.

I got to the other end, I sat through phantom-pain (unlike flabdablet, lots of phantom pain, none that persisted the second I moved, therefore I ignored the urge to move and was fine).

But overall, the experience was a big fat 'meh'.

I was a little insecure about that for awhile, worried that I'd done something wrong etc, since 'everyone else' was getting something useful, but, I guess it's just a pretty boring trip report, and not something people feel worth talking about.

Anyway - if you're thinking of doing it, that's cool, hope it's useful, but it wasn't useful or worth it for me, just to even out the reviews of the experience. It was just 'meh'.

I think spending 10 days going camping, on a roadtrip or read books instead would have been significantly more worth it.
posted by Elysum at 9:59 PM on June 12, 2012


"I think spending 10 days going camping, on a roadtrip or read books instead would have been significantly more worth it."

And thus you were enlightened.
posted by moonbiter at 11:45 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brandon, I love you, but this article was a trite piece of crap. Does she think she's the first or even the billionth person to realize these things?

So is there a quota on this? Whether she's the first or the billionth, the point is that she's realized it and is doing something to spread the word. Is that so bad?

If what she's putting out there is a trite piece of crap, you might as well call the following instruction trite too:

"Look, it's like this: when the past thought has ceased, and the future thought has not yet arisen, isn't there a gap?"

"Yes."

"Well, prolong that. That is meditation."

The only difference is that people like Master Jamyang Khyentse are seen as repositories of specialized esoteric wisdom and "insight" whom people flock to study and follow and emulate and that people like Christine G, who wrote the linked post, are seen as trite dispensers of obvious crap that everyone already knows.
posted by blucevalo at 5:59 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What feels like trite crap about this to me is that it is so clearly content filler. If you click the author's name to see her other 'articles', they are all "The 6 body language mistakes you don't want to make" and similar silly lists.
posted by latkes at 6:56 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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