Secular mindfulness meditation groups

 
Matt Polofka
 
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Matt Polofka
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31 July 2012 23:33
 

Has project reason made any effort to start secular mindfulness meditation groups? I’ve considered starting some kind of group like this but I don’t really have a location that isn’t somewhat buddhisty. I think it’d be really cool to set up a number of small meditation groups that are in some way affiliated with project reason. The groups could promote this project and the project could promote the groups. It seems to me with how much interest Sam has in meditation that something like this may have already been started. If so I’d like to get involved, and if not I’d be interested in starting something like this up, though I just joined the forums today; I’d feel a little weird starting a group that’s affiliated with a group I just joined.

 
robbrownsyd
 
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robbrownsyd
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01 August 2012 06:55
 

Not a bad idea matt. But it would have to be done through your local humanist/atheist group as the members here a too geographically dispersed to get together and participate in the sort of groups you suggest.

Welcome to the forum.

Cheers

Rob

 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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02 August 2012 19:54
 

Om ....

 
 
Matt Polofka
 
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Matt Polofka
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02 August 2012 20:16
 

No no, mindfulness meditation not transcendental

 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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03 August 2012 18:49
 
zkwest - 03 August 2012 03:09 PM
zkwest - 03 August 2012 03:02 PM
Matt Polofka - 02 August 2012 06:16 PM

No no, mindfulness meditation not transcendental

I practice insight meditation - Vipassana.

I find it useful but I do not use any reference to a metaphysical ground.

To many of the groups I know of locally, are religiously atheist,  that is the take not believing to radical believing in not believing.

Meditation is meditation - minus the woo, must be mindfulness. I practiced Yoga Meditation for three years. I think the object is the same, I’m an enlightened Positive Atheist. That’s not religious I trust. Aw, who cares ... it was my Not God Personal Experience (ie, my experience of Oneness with the Universe imparted on me that God definitely does not exist). Isn’t it a solitary exercise, anyway, like a Wiccan Solitary? What’s the group thing?

 
 
Matt Polofka
 
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Matt Polofka
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05 August 2012 03:45
 
Answerer - 03 August 2012 04:49 PM
zkwest - 03 August 2012 03:09 PM
zkwest - 03 August 2012 03:02 PM
Matt Polofka - 02 August 2012 06:16 PM

No no, mindfulness meditation not transcendental

I practice insight meditation - Vipassana.

I find it useful but I do not use any reference to a metaphysical ground.

To many of the groups I know of locally, are religiously atheist,  that is the take not believing to radical believing in not believing.

Meditation is meditation - minus the woo, must be mindfulness. I practiced Yoga Meditation for three years. I think the object is the same, I’m an enlightened Positive Atheist. That’s not religious I trust. Aw, who cares ... it was my Not God Personal Experience (ie, my experience of Oneness with the Universe imparted on me that God definitely does not exist). Isn’t it a solitary exercise, anyway, like a Wiccan Solitary? What’s the group thing?

Transcendaental meditation doesn’t really have to have woo, but it usually does. I don’t like it because it’s escapist. You zone in on a thought(I suppose that’s what it is, it’s not really mantra, just a sylable that you don’t say(kinda weird if you ask me)) and tune reality out. I do zen meditation, so open eyed taking everything in.

The group aspect is very good for teaching people about it. I find it’s helpful to talk about your experiences with other people. There are a lot of people out there who want to know about meditation but they don’t wanna go to a temple or some religious hangout, or even if they don’t care about that there is no place like that in their area.

There’s also something about doing it with a group of people that makes it easier. Easier not to move around(which then feeds into mental activity) because of the other people; you don’t wanna disrupt them, they aren’t moving which reinforces you not moving. I find meditating for set periods of time is also helpful, and it can be nice to have someone else keeping track of the time(alarms work too but they can be obnoxious). Group meditation can create an atmosphere that can be helpful sometimes; it’s not what you always want but I’ve found it helpful.

The other thing I’ve found useful about the group dynamic is the philosophical aspect of it, but I dunno how or if this should even be incorporated into a secular group. But I’ve found that studying ethics and how human conscious works, what the self is, etc. have been really helpful in deepening my meditation practice. Finding people who you can talk to about this is pretty rare it seems.

 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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05 August 2012 13:16
 

To each his own, I guess. I had a very good how-to book on yoga meditation with some basic philosophy written by an American author that was used as an introduction at the time that it was first being popularized in the west. He made clear that the woo part (eg, reincarnation, etc) was optional, that the benefits stemmed from the practice of the methods or steps. But he did explain the benefits in terms of imagery according to the philosophy. For instance, the idea of ‘mind’ as a circle with ‘ordinary mind’ (mundane thoughts) lying on the periphery that go round and round, and with the object to ‘jump in the center of the circle of universal mind’ where enlightenment occurs, or letting go of the ego to achieve ‘oneness’ (eg, “Who are you?”). Some of the practices in the beginning were to take place in quiet solitude to avoid distractions (passive meditation). The object was single-pointedness concentration, ie, focusing and concentrating on one object of meditation. Sight, sound, breath were all objects of concentration. The distractions that one were learning to control and eliminate were the superfluous thoughts (ordinary mind) that pervaded as interference. The idea was to gain mastery through practice in order to be able to apply it constantly throughout the day in our normal activities, ie, being aware of the mundane and superfluous thoughts not useful in the activity at hand and putting them aside, eventually not even producing them, at least at the conscious level, in order to live in the moment. This would become automatic with enough progress in the techniques. The benefits and noticeable ‘inner change’ of perception and how I related to events of the ‘outer world’ were remarkable, there was a clarity that I had not experienced before. This did not occur overnight, it took time and practice. Of course, I had friends with same/similar interests and the active meditation was conducted throughout the normal course of experience until it became pretty much automatic.

 
 
BobD3623
 
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BobD3623
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28 August 2012 22:46
 

I find Vipassana the most generically useful. But as with anything else, once you get to a certain level, it is hard to NOT spend your time sitting every waking moment. Unless you are a monk…it’s not very practical to sit 6 hours a day. lol

 
Matt Polofka
 
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Matt Polofka
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31 August 2012 14:18
 

Well that’s what I like about open eyed meditation and zen. It makes it easier to incorporate that state of mind into everyday activities.

 
Adolfo
 
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Adolfo
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15 September 2012 17:55
 

Hello all, I just found this website and forum. I am a fan of Dennett, Thomas Paine and others.
I will write something more coherent latter but I want to immediately support the importance of meditation for non-religious minded people. Firstly; though process should not be over-rated. On one hand it has given us science, but on the other it has become a runaway train that leads us to existential speculation. The rational mind is a recent achievement of evolutionary process but it also has rapidly become our prison. We cannot “think” ourselves to identity or consciousness (of what?) the nature of reality is beyond thinking, thus to be aware in higher states of consciousness is to “experience” states of universal flow. Is not a final or a complete answer but the following prose reveals to me a closer approximation to meaning than rationalization: “: the universe feels itself”.

Secondly; the modern usefulness of meditation is that provides instants of disengagement from the speculative mind. That in itself is a necessary revolution in the XXI century where the content of communication technology brings us 99% junk to our senses. Beyond that is the possibility that by stopping the speculation (the past and future) the universal mind could reflect itself within each of us. We as hominids survived natural harshness for a few million years and now that we don’t have to be victims of natural phenomenoum (only victims of or fellow human beings) we could return to the oceanic universal experience of belonging and connection with nature-cosmos by having instances of freeing ourselves of the little mind, ego, etc. Personally, I am choosing to do that in nature, and I have proven its therapeutic effectiveness to myself in various meditative natural experiences, with youth and adults.
This whole conversation has a context, and that context is the need for a community of people who are free from religious obscurantism. But, every community needs its own type of ritual. We need to ritualize our life experience: to have prayer, and a method for spiritual unfoldment both free from obscurantist, dualistic and fascist religious content as we find today all over the world. We need shared emotional content and exaltation rites about the real universe; as opposite to being just brainy and harsh naysayers about what the past-due medieval religious institutions do wrong. I suggest to you that meditation and meditation in nature are powerful and soothing paths to a hearth felt universal experience.

One of my favorite aphorisms from Rabindranath Tagore
“The mind grows fat eating its own speculations”

I am not a pacifist, but in my own limited way I am doing “ecospirit” workshops in Patagonia,  working towards living in a beautiful native forest and experiencing what Tich Nhat Hanh refer to as “Interbeing”. Here is a link to a YouTube interview. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1skSPldGd9Y

:thank you all

Adolfo

[ Edited: 15 September 2012 18:13 by Adolfo]
 
NoMyth
 
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NoMyth
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29 October 2012 02:19
 

@ Matt - have you tried Meetup.com. They often have meditation / sitting groups. Check out Zen centers as well. They come out of Buddhism but strip away the writings. (that’s actually were mindfulness came out of). I’ve found a few spiritual places that don’t follow a religion but have meditations and talks of improving your life experience.
Good Luck!

 
SkepticX
 
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SkepticX
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29 October 2012 10:10
 

I do standard zazen ... well, I did anyway. I intend to add it back into my regimen, but it hasn’t happened in a while now. I expect when I get it back on track I’ll appreciate its effect all the more.