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BrassMonkey
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« on: February 09, 2013, 04:28:36 AM »

Anyone have any strong opinions on this? Helpful? Dangerous?

I could *really* use a way of dealing with the relentless assault of pointless thoughts. I often find it hard to concentrate, including during the Divine Liturgy. I get a lot of anxiety and resultant irritability and would like to calm my mind in order to focus on what's at hand- whether that be the Liturgy, family or work- instead of being lost in anxious distraction.

I have been given a book called "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn which deals with the use of mindfulness meditation as a way of dealing with such issues. I haven't started it but I understand it is based in Buddhist teaching. I have practiced Buddhism in the past and have no wish to return to it; in a nutshell, I know I cannot do without Christ.

So what do you all think? Anyone practice mindfulness meditation? Anyone read this book? Or do you feel that it's all the work of the devil and to be avoided as such? In the latter case- what would you suggest instead?

Of course, I will talk to my priest when I can but I am away from home at the moment.

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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2013, 04:32:08 AM »

I don't see why you can't incorporate a Buddhist practice into your life with Christ--provided it is used for Christ. The Church pretty much jacked and Christianized all of ancient Greece's pagan philosophy, so why not with Buddhism?
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2013, 04:38:45 AM »

I don't see why you can't incorporate a Buddhist practice into your life with Christ--provided it is used for Christ. The Church pretty much jacked and Christianized all of ancient Greece's pagan philosophy, so why not with Buddhism?

There are threads on this, but the short answer is "no". The "mentality" of Buddhist meditation is essentially inimical to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2013, 04:40:35 AM »

What is involved in it? Like repeating whatever you are experiencing at the moment or taking notice of (breathing... breathing... breathing... foot falling asleep... foot falling asleep... foot falling asleep... car horn... car horn... car horn... etc.)?
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BrassMonkey
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2013, 05:29:10 AM »

I haven't read the book, but when I was a Buddhist it was mostly focussing attention on the breath. I'd imagine the book is similar.

There are threads on this, but the short answer is "no". The "mentality" of Buddhist meditation is essentially inimical to Orthodoxy.

I looked for other threads on OC.net, found a few... but nothing that really answers my question. I can see that some people feel as you do, that it's a no-no; but can you suggest something else to help me get my head straight? Some days I can't even stay focussed for the length of the Trisagion.
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2013, 08:27:12 AM »

A short introduction:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditation

Sounds like just practising letting go of intruding thoughts instead of being thrown by them.
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2013, 09:40:20 AM »

I read a couple of Thich Nhat Hahn books back in the day and was very impressed with mindfulness meditation. These days I will have to agree with LBK.  Christian prayer is essentially personal; concerned with the Presence of God and ultimately transfiguration.  Buddhist meditation is essentially an emptying process without a movement towards encounter.  By stripping ourselves bare of this world we will have arrived.  We all need to be emptied of this world, Orthodox writers on prayer are clear on this and provide plenty of advice on how to seek God in a way that can release us from these attachments to the world.  Archimandrite Irenei's new book, the Beginnings of the Life of Prayer, as some very solid and practical advice about this issue of thoughts. The key is the relationship with God taking it's rightful place.
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2013, 10:11:30 AM »

I have read the book, and I believe its methods are perfectly safe and helpful, regardless of religious affiliation. In mindfulness for stress reduction (which Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches in the book), there are no references to Buddhist deities, rituals, names, nothing of the sort (if my memory serves me). The practice of mindfulness is completely belief-neutral, and it helps many people deal with pain and suffering. I used it for quite some time to deal with stress and anxiety. It is essentially a way to see what the heck your mind is actually doing when you're not paying attention (which is pretty much all of the time!).

That said, if you are at all worried or distrustful about it (which it sounds you are, and prudently so, I suppose), I would instead use the Jesus Prayer. I have found that many of the benefits of practicing insight meditation or mindfulness are the natural effects of daily using the Jesus Prayer. Speak to your spiritual father, of course, but one's ability to gain some objectivity and have some release from habitual mental patterns is advanced by focusing on the words of the Jesus Prayer in much the same way as focusing on the breath in mindfulness meditation. Please note that I am not saying that these practices are the same, and I am certainly not saying that one should use the Jesus Prayer solely as a means of dealing with anxiety! No, but if you diligently practice a prayer rule and learn to concentrate and let go of worldly thoughts while using the Jesus Prayer, your overall mindfulness will develop along with your faith in and love of Christ, while your anxieties and unhealthy mental habits decrease as a result.

Just my two cents...
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 10:12:32 AM by stavros_388 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2013, 09:54:12 AM »

I have read several of Zinn's books, and found them helpful.  I f you have read "Full Catastrophe Living", you have read the best of them.  The others are basically repeating what he has said in this book.  There are some vague references to Buddhism but for the most part he stays clear of assigning any religious or particular spritual reference.  You can certainly apply Orthodox teachings on prayer to his method quite well. If you you stick with it (which is a tough discipline) you will benefit from it, and I think it will help to to focus better onn the details of your life and your spritual groith in your faith.  If you are Orthodox I would encourage you not do do it without fully incorporating your Orthodox teaching as a part of it.
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2013, 10:13:06 AM »

I haven't read the book, but when I was a Buddhist it was mostly focussing attention on the breath. I'd imagine the book is similar.

There are threads on this, but the short answer is "no". The "mentality" of Buddhist meditation is essentially inimical to Orthodoxy.

I looked for other threads on OC.net, found a few... but nothing that really answers my question. I can see that some people feel as you do, that it's a no-no; but can you suggest something else to help me get my head straight? Some days I can't even stay focussed for the length of the Trisagion.

You need the right weapon to fight this enemy and it doesn't seem like this is it.
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2013, 02:42:20 AM »

You'd probably get farther reading the Church's sources on how to dispel logismoi.
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2013, 03:15:07 AM »

The kind of meditation I've heard taught by Buddhists sounds silly to me and not helpful. They call it "mindfulness" but it seems the direct opposite of that (involving repeating something to yourself, like "Stepping, stepping, stepping" while you're walking).

I've often practiced what I thought "mindfulness meditation" should be which is simply ceasing any mental narratives and being still. It helps me focus, think clearer, etc, when I do it. When I have done it for an hour (which I have not in a long time) it has an obvious effect for a while.
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2013, 12:09:57 PM »

I haven't read the book, but when I was a Buddhist it was mostly focussing attention on the breath. I'd imagine the book is similar.

There are threads on this, but the short answer is "no". The "mentality" of Buddhist meditation is essentially inimical to Orthodoxy.

I looked for other threads on OC.net, found a few... but nothing that really answers my question. I can see that some people feel as you do, that it's a no-no; but can you suggest something else to help me get my head straight? Some days I can't even stay focussed for the length of the Trisagion.

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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2013, 06:38:56 PM »

Perhaps a better term to use in regard to the Orthodox faith would be "watchfulness" or "nepsis".  In any case it is not an attempt to "empty" your mind, but if anythng to become more aware of your thoughts.  It should never be about "you" but about bringing Jesus into your heart.  Buddhist practice "mind emptying". That should not be your goal.  Being aware of your thoughts and temptations I think is another matter. It helps you be present rather than in the futuere or the past, and should help us to understand our problems and temptations and open ourselves to place Jesus in our hearts to help remedy those issues.  Perhaps a priest or a monk could weigh in and offer an opinion on the Church's position.
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2013, 11:31:11 PM »

I hope this thread isn't too old to comment on but I'd like to dispel the myth that buddhist meditation is "mind emptying". This is a western stereotype of buddhism that is simply not true. mindfulness is about accepting your thoughts and being in the current moment. This is like buddhist meditation but it isn't restricted to buddhism. I find many parallels between this and prayer, and being mindful of the presence of God.
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