Tuesday 12 December 2017

The thing is... your 30-second guide to everything: Analytic Meditation

Illustration: Eorna Walton
Illustration: Eorna Walton


What: Analytic meditation, aka mindfulness for intellectuals. This is a more dynamic form of meditation. Instead of trying to let your mind go blank, or repeating a mantra, or focusing on a raisin for 20 minutes, analytic meditation allows you to use intelligence, reason and the skills of deconstruction, in pursuit of deep understanding and acceptance.

Why: Because other more passive forms of meditation are not for everyone. They can be too slow, too repetitive, too solipsistic; there are many of us who develop a twitch of irritation when we are told to count our breaths and develop a loving attitude; it feels like navel-gazing.

Why Now: Because extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and right now, the world around us seems to call more for analysis than simple acceptance.

How: Steady questioning and an open mind are the key to this. So, begin with something that confounds you or makes you angry. Turn your mind over to considering the destructive effects of anger, on your health, your relationships, the wider society. Analyse this repeatedly and in as much depth as possible, so that you have a thorough understanding of the negative effects of anger. You can - and should - still respond to a situation or a person who offers harm, but with enough analytic meditation, your response will be free of personal feelings of hatred.

Who: The Dalai Lama is a big fan, practising analytic meditation daily, along with many other forms of meditation. In which case, can we expect celebrity supporters such as Richard Gere, Sharon Stone and Goldie Hawn to follow suit?

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