In her blog “When meditative prayer includes the Divine, anything is possible,” Anna Bowness-Park explores the idea that meditation needs to go beyond a focus on self in order to be truly healing. Anna’s blog was first published in the Vancouver Courier on December 28, 2016
“Meditation is very much like cooking lentils. The scum rises to the surface when you are doing this.”
It’s an intriguing observation made by psychologist Dr. Miguel Farias during an interview on CBC radio regarding the book, The Buddha Pill: Can meditation change you? which he co-wrote with Dr. Catherine Wikholm. This analogy, which Farias heard from a meditation guru in India, spoke to him about the broad-spectrum of effects resulting from this practice.
Numerous studies have shown the positive side of meditation – how it can calm thought, reconnect us to some aspect of our inner selves, and in some cases, bring about positive health effects. Generally, we have come to believe that meditation is a health practice free of side effects, with guaranteed peace and happiness being the result.
However, Farias’ research shows that this is not always the case. His findings should alert us to what happens when we take what was originally a religious practice and secularize it without really understanding its roots and history. Meditation, or mindfulness, is mentioned in many faiths, but it has very different meanings.
Christian prayer can be meditative. The difference is that this type of prayer focuses on communing with God. Meditation or mindfulness that is promoted and practiced in secular settings tends toward focus on the self, some aspect of the body, or what is going on in the human brain.
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