Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More on meditative states of consciousness

See this recent meditation and brain update. The material is consistent with what I've been reporting but he doesn't cite sources in this article. Interestingly in the IPS “Washburn and the psychodynamics of meditation" thread he suggests that it is the more open or receptive practices that notice our buried, sub- or unconscious patterns. The more concentrative or arousal practices are too preoccupied with intent focus on its object and tend to not notice such buried content. For this particular purpose it seems the slower brainwave practices are more applicable. Also of note that such concentrative practices are susceptible to the ego ideal, which leads to confusion about the nature of the experiences with a metaphysical overlay. This could be in part due to ignoring the subconscious content that arises into awareness in the more receptive types of practice.
Also of note is that even the receptive practices instruct one to ignore such content and let it merely come and go. One can note it though via recorder, let it go for the purpose of the meditation, and then come back to and examine that content at a later time. It is not just superfluous fluff or obstruction but good material for shadow and other psychodynamic work, both of which are lacking in the traditional meditative traditions.

As for the default mode network, recall this from the IPS thread on states that there is a baseline awareness called tonic attention: "From an empirical standpoint, one way to conceptualize these various meditative traits is to view them as developmental changes in physiological baselines in the organism" (528). More in terms of Damasio's work, which Thompson and other meditation/brain researchers are using, see this summary of some of that research. Also of note is at the end of the linked article he comes full circle, noting that the same dualism inherent to Husserl's transcendent consciousness also applies to traditional Buddhist notions of transcendent awareness (aka the ego ideal).

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