Even with a precedent of thousands of years of practice, meditation may not be universally beneficial.
Notwithstanding the many thousands of people hooked on meditation, bear with us as we discuss this topic, as it is occupying considerable bandwidth on social media.
Meditation is a method of directing one’s attention inward, into one’s mind; the word is derived from the Latin meditatio, from the verb meditari, meaning “to think, contemplate, devise, ponder”. [Possibly derived from Proto-Indo-European med- “measure”; possibly from Sanskrit medha “wisdom”.]
As with most English words there are multiple definitions, although there remains no single contemporary definition of necessary and sufficient criteria that has achieved universal or widespread acceptance. Which is why we are expending so much consideration on the term.
Innocuous Definitions of Meditation
–the act or an instance of planning or thinking quietly, contemplation
–a discourse intended to express considered thoughts or reflections, or to guide others in contemplation
–thinking deeply or carefully about
Not So Innocuous Definitions of Meditation
–any definitions which mandate focused introspection, or focusing intensively on one’s mind, or focusing one’s attention intensively on one particular object, thought, idea, or activity, and which insist on remaining motionless.
Why We Say “Not So Innocuous”
For this we need to explain something called Introversion-Extroversion.
Introversion: Looking in too closely
Extroversion: Being able to look outward
Introversion: Continually fixing attention on something.
An introverted personality is only capable of looking inward at itself.
Extroversion: Looking at things in the environment at different distances without fixing attention on any one thing or one distance.
An extroverted personality is capable of looking around the environment.
These are two realities of which every person is aware to greater or lesser degree. On the one hand a person is aware of the internal reality of his own existence and past. On the other hand a person is aware of the external reality of his present time environment (and some can also imagine a future reality.)
When a person excessively introverts, their external reality becomes less real which inhibits their ability to observe and communicate with external things. The physical manifestation of this is tiredness, weariness or exhaustion.
The simple remedy for excessive introversion is extroversion — a good look at and communication with the wider external environment. Take A Walk and Look At Things!
When the method of meditation requires such introversion to the exclusion of extroversion, there are potential adverse effects. Some research has noted such adverse effects as anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts, self-obsession, a compulsive need to change, exhaustion, or the side effects of having taken harmful psychoactive drugs as “aids” (a favorite psychiatric “therapy”.)
When meditation is used for the purposes described by “not so innocuous” definitions, the danger of excessive introversion becomes real. We point out the possibility, and trust that someone is able to recognize when introversion exceeds extroversion and becomes damaging.
Meditation, Mindfulness and the Psychiatric Connection
The psychiatric corruption of mindfulness into meditation by psychiatry and psychology has confused the subject and rendered it not only less effective but actually harmful.
When meditation is practiced as simply mindfulness, being in present time in the current external environment, we have meditation as one of the innocuous definitions — no harm done. Being in present time is a good thing.
But when meditation is practiced to totally focus one’s attention inward on the mind, leading a person into the past instead of the present, here is where it becomes not so innocuous, and one is exposed to the dangers of introversion to the exclusion of extroversion. Being out of present time is not a good thing.
There are better ways to reach spiritual awareness and freedom than focusing attention exclusively on the mind and the past. Psychiatry is not your friend in this endeavor.