As I was reading Galen Strawson's book, "Things That Bother Me: Death, Freedom, The Self, Etc.", I read a mention by Stawson that he'd tried out psychologist Patricia Carrington's approach to meditation, liked it, but didn't stick with it for very long.
Curious, I headed to Carrington's web site, which has sort of an old-fashioned internet vibe to it. I poked around the site for a while, focusing on what she has to say about meditation, and liked her emphasis on meditation being as effortless as possible.
Since I'm a firm believer in spiritual laziness, I decided to fork over $24.95 for her Learn to Meditate course.
When the materials were delivered to me via an email message, I realized that if her web site seemed like something out of the early 2000's internet era, Carrington's meditation instruction manual and accompanying audio files seemed even more ancient.
Kind of charming in an old-fashioned way. Also kind of irritating. But I figured that for $24.95, the cost of some hard cover books that I buy, I shouldn't expect the meditation course to be packaged in a fancy manner.
Since I've been meditating every day for more than fifty years, I didn't expect to learn anything wildly new. Which I didn't. Carrington basically has repackaged the mantra-based approach of Transcendental Meditation into a pleasingly secular format with no religious overtones.
You get to pick your own one-word mantra. She suggests 16 or so. I settled on "peace."
Carrington says that you shouldn't share your mantra, though it isn't secret. So I've broken that rule. Her manual contains lots of other rules, which is kind of strange, since she says that her meditation approach is flexible, with the meditator being free to adapt her approach as desired.
For example, Carrington doesn't want you to chew gum while meditating because you might become so relaxed, you swallow the gum and choke yourself to death. And you're not supposed to ingest caffeine before meditating. Or alcohol. Or recreational drugs. Or eat more than a very light meal.
Naturally I ignored all those "should's," which drastically shortened the time it took for me to read her meditation manual. I think because Carrington is a licensed psychologist, she felt like she needed to cover her legal bases by warning purchasers of her meditation course to not do anything that might be remotely risky.
I did listen to several of her audio recordings. They were fine. Nothing new to me. Just a pleasant introduction to meditation. I'm enjoying my "peace" mantra, which is a nice change of pace from the mindfulness meditation I've been focusing on for quite a few years, after immersing myself in a more complex form of mantra meditation for over three decades.
I like how Carrington says that while effortful concentration works for some highly motivated meditators, her approach is to just let the mantra do its thing with as little effort as possible. If the mind wanders, no problem. Return to the mantra gently.
She appears to view positive change as happening naturally in meditation. It isn't something to be pursued, as that just makes meditation into another item on our to-do list.
There's some comparisons between mindfulness and mantra meditation on her web site that are fairly interesting. That link contains a description of her own approach.
My meditation program is not meant to “numb” any individual from experiencing and expressing our natural human tendencies to feel emotions of compassion, empathy, and full engagement with one’s surroundings.
I teach a type of mantra meditation, Clinically Standardized Meditation (CSM), which has much in common [with] Transcendental Meditation (TM). I also teach Woolfolk’s breathing meditation, which is much like Benson’s technique.
CSM is a modern form of meditation that has been widely used, both in clinical practice to support psychotherapy, and as a self-taught method to create profound individual personality and life changes.
Unlike TM, or other forms of meditation, CSM, has no ceremonious or pre-conceptive goals, rather the meditator makes preparations to create a quiet space in which to relax and repeat a short, personally selected, standardized soothing sound, a “mantra.”
CSM is, ultimately, a non-directive form of meditating that is remarkably effective in bringing about profound positive changes in the meditator and it is very safe and simple to use. Furthermore, its beneficial effects have been widely supported by research. It is not based upon any religion or strict protocol.
With the CSM instruction, you can experience both mantra and breathing meditations to see how each feels for you, your family, and what comfortably compliments your goals for a meditative experience.
Sounds an okay sort of meditation course. I like the emphasis that there is no intention to ‘numb’ or divorce one from the natural human tendencies. So many allegedly spiritual enterprises give the impression that by following the prescribed teachings one will have permanent joy and peace and by rising above such mundane experiences.
I’m in an odd position regarding meditation practices, and I guess I’m very lazy about it. Although I do sit first thing in the morning, my sessions – and indeed much of the rest of my very average day – are more to do with enquiry. That is, a more or less natural curiosity of watching what arises with no particular purpose at all.
I do wonder if, with age (I’m quite a few years older than Brian) and having been through the mill (so to speak) of most of the usual ‘search’ pathways along with the customary experiences, that one becomes a little more relaxed and happier toward the search for ‘who I am’ etc. Or perhaps with death not too far away, every day and moment become more meaningful – just the way it is – that is not to say that there are not times of sadness and pain etc., and of course it’s nice to have a body still in working order (mostly). And one can still question and debate on life, the universe and everything – which is fun.
I guess that as searching human beings, we perhaps all have to go through the ups and downs of questioning, searching, meditating etc. Yet it’s almost as though at some point along the way, one might arrive at the place where just to ‘chop wood and fetch water’ – as the old cliché says – is enough.
Posted by: Ron E. | January 21, 2023 at 06:19 AM
>> Sounds an okay sort of meditation course.http://www.allgoodfound.com/2014/01/transcendental-meditation-and-the-alternatives.html
TM and all others are offshoots of the [avaita] teachings of Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, Northern India.
Some try to mask it, some do not know it, some just make a profit out of it
John Buttler's "but on the chair and be silent" is the most stripped version of it.
It seerms not related but think for a moment and you might understand.
Most if not all textbooks on psychotherapy in ALL its variations, starts out some where in the initial pages with a remark of the necessity for the existence of an "therapeutic relationship" or in common language "a click". That stated as a sine-qua-non , nowhere is explained how to establish that "click" at any moment of the day, regardless the persons involved.
Something of the order is true for meditation as well
Maybe one should call it an inborn talent or lack thereof. ... that would explain why there are so many people that you without results after many years of effort
Posted by: um | January 21, 2023 at 07:46 AM
Something went wrong ...before the first link there was:
One of the many offshoots of mantra yoga / th
Posted by: um | January 21, 2023 at 07:49 AM
Every step towards self-care, self-improvement, self-understanding is a step towards understanding your place in this world—how you fit in with others—and how you can achieve your full potential. 👏
No man is an island. We’re all connected at some level. But we have to clean our own house first before we can start helping others.
I have tremendous respect for people who continually strive to learn, grow and improve. ESPECIALLY for older people who do that. Too many woolen get stuck in their ways during middle age and forget the joy of discovery.
Posted by: Thank you | January 22, 2023 at 03:35 PM
While no-free-will is fact; but the fallacy in conflating free will with choice --- even despite knowing we couldn't have chosen otherwise --- becomes evident, and probably more easily conveyed than through long arguments, by asking these two questions:
1. If we find ourselves able to assess the implications of no free will, and able to incorporate that into our actions, at both individual and collective levels: then why might we not expect the same "responsibility" of criminals, et al? (Conversely, if we imagine killers can't help themselves, why do we imagine *we* can, so far as free will questions? Isn't the sheer condescension in such a POV not breathtaking, where we effectively claim agency for ourselves, but infantalize criminals by imagining they don't?)
If criminals are unthinking hurricanes, why are we not that as well? And if we can think about free will and fashion our actions and policies accordingly, why might we not expect and demand likewise from killers and swindlers and thieves?
2. Do we in all seriousness imagine there's no difference in culpability when a four year old shoots his teacher dead --- or a mentally incapacitated person --- and a forty year old adult killing someone?
Consider the two questions together, and hopefully the complete disconnect between "ultimate responsibility" and operational responsibility will become evident.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | January 22, 2023 at 08:20 PM
Indeed, "ultimate responsibility" seems to me a nonsensical idea, and a complete red herring that has nothing to do with anything at all.
That is, it might be relevant when discussing religious superstitions, especially the contortions brought to bear by religious apologists when addressing theodical questions; but when rational folks untouched by these superstitions discuss things, then why is the free will question even relevant when considering matters of law and justice and punishment?
I mean it's a fascinating question in and of itself, sure; but I don't see how it adds to a discussion on whether killers should be executed, or tortured, or locked away all their life, or locked away for a few years, or subjected to gentle therapy. Very many considerations bear on these questions; but I don't think the question of whether we have free will is one of those questions. Not unless we're discussing this with some crazed Mullah trying to impose the Sharia, or some other flavor of religious nutjob pushing their own religious agenda.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | January 22, 2023 at 08:33 PM
Oh, sorry, wrong thread! Meant to post those two comments in the thread on free will, that I've commented in already.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | January 22, 2023 at 08:44 PM