How to Meditate
(The one who does not judge, by h.koppdelaney)
There are many forms of introspection and mental training that go by the name of “meditation,” and I have studied several over the years. As I occasionally speak about the benefits of these practices, people often write to ask which I recommend. Given my primary audience–students of science, secularists, nonbelievers, etc.–these queries usually come bundled with the worry that most traditional teachings about meditation must be intellectually suspect.
Indeed, it is true that many contemplative paths ask one to entertain unfounded ideas about the nature of reality–or, at the very least, to develop a fondness for the iconography and cultural artifacts of one or another religion. Even an organization likeTranscendental Meditation (TM), which has spent decades self-consciously adapting itself for use by non-Hindus, can’t overcome the fact that its students must be given a Sanskrit mantra as the foundation of the practice. Ancient incantations present an impediment to many a discerning mind (as does the fact that TM displays several, odious signs of being a cult).
But not all contemplative paths kindle the same doubts or present the same liabilities. There are, in fact, many methods of meditation and “spiritual” inquiry that can greatly enhance our mental health while offering no affront to the intellect.