Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Rejecting or Embracing the Sacred in Meditation

A version of this post appears on my blog for PsychCentral, "Getting Older with Bipolar."

I spent the weekend at my parents’ house in the mountains, very quiet, and found the entire secularization of sacred traditions troubling.  I thought about the way I’ve been teaching meditation.

I recently taught a class in creative contemplation that was based on Lectio Divina, or divine reading.  It is a practice undertaken by contemplative Christians and monks in which one completely surrenders to the voice of God as inspired by a line of scripture.  

I have no real allegiance to Christianity, other than my upbringing, and I presented the practice as a completely secular way to meditate.  Many modern meditative and contemplative forms are presented this way.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What to Do With All of These Thoughts

It’s easy to say that when meditating one should focus on the breath and release thoughts as they arise, but it’s incredibly difficult to do.  I’ve been a bit hypomanic lately, and ideas are flying through my head.  Concentration and attention are very difficult.  Acknowledging thoughts and letting them go is hard enough on a good day.  What do I do now?

During mindfulness meditation you keep your attention on your breath, but you want to be fully aware in this moment.  So you still take note of sounds and smells, aches and pains, all that makes up the present.  When thoughts arise the instructions are to notice them, let them go, and return to the breath.  But to just blot out thoughts without paying attention to them would not be very mindful at all.  Don’t ignore your thoughts, work with them.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Why Work?

I’m grateful we have a social safety net.  It’s important to help people pull themselves up, and to provide care for those who cannot support themselves because of serious disability.  The net may not be cast broad enough, as too many people who need help are denied services.  That said, the most important thing that led to my recovery from serious mental illness was being denied Social Security Disability Income.