Monday, March 2, 2009

Why does not everybody practice meditation?

Fact 1: Everybody I know who tried meditation has only praise for it. "It is good" "Great" "The best thing I did in my life" and so on.
My experience has been the same. It was so much calming and energizing that I wonder why I ever stopped after I started a few years ago.

Fact 2: Scientific experiments have shown one after the other that meditation improves mood. Decreases anxiety and depression and various other good outcomes.
There were significant effects from meditation.

Puzzle: why only 1% of the population (in Israel) practices meditation?

It sounds one of the greatest irrationalities in life management. There is almost no better deal I know of.

Yet people ignore it largely. Probably showing that humans management of life is far from what reason would expect.

11 comments:

HS said...

Because of the same reason that people eat too much, drink too much, sleep too little, work too much, spend too much, yell at their loved ones, etc etc... the problem is time.

Yechezkel Zilber said...

Time is central. normal people work+commute 9 hours a day.,

But they find time for a movie, news, whatever.

Actual management of life vs, what seems much more worthwhile. This is the distinction, and the puzzle.

Understanding the actual way people manage their lives, may help to help peope improve life. (i.e. improving happiness in actuality and not in theory)

HS said...

I didn't mean time in that sense. I meant the problem that is known in theory as "time inconsistency of preferences", i.e. although people have long-term goals (like eating better, meditating, etc.) they act contrary to those goals in the short term and -- this is crucial -- even though they know it is agains their own goals. That is a true puzzle, if I could figure it out just for myself how to "trick" myself s.th. I act more consistently with my goals, I'd be much happier (and better!) person.

Yechezkel Zilber said...

Self control maybe the issue.
We are limited in self control.
Baumeister and colleagues have shown that exercising self control is physically tiring and that after one act of self control people have less power for another act of self-control

Anonymous said...

Some people know they need to change their passport, yet they don't do and those people don't even dedicate 9 hours a day for commute + slavery.

They say that meditation more than compensates for spent time by productivity

Yechezkel Zilber said...

Let's seperate the passport issue between approach to responsibility, inherent utility, and practial/emotionl appraoch cost of errands.

1) How important it is to do these things. Some people do not care about chores. They let things stay messy. Sometimes it does not matter. But they guess that laboring to keep order may be too costly for them (or that is the rationalization. But there is also the very bias of presenting the question...)

2) Utility wise it is minor. There is risk. But the expected risk is relatively small (in worse case, nobody going to prison for that. And losing a flight is not the end of the world - unless we frame it as untirely unacceptable, see paragraph (1))

3) Here is a catch. "Having to do it when the mood is nto appropriate can be very annoying. But when being reminded often the balance of costs changes ;-)

PS. I am enjoying this comment more than many heavy posts I am writing here for sophistication purposes.
See http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/notebook.htm
note 111 - The Black Swan you fools!

Yechezkel Zilber said...

Some practical information

I have been experimenting with meditation for years. Starting and stopping like a good lazy men.

Three month ago I started doing the MBSR course.
It is an eight week program. 2.5 hours once a week, and then doing the home stuff daily.
It changed my life so far. It is simply good.

Here you have courses in luzern and zurich.
http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/mbsr/

There are various experiments about this course that it makes people happier reduces anxiety (I just read a paper about people with anxiety or depression who were significantly better off three years after doing the course!)


There is lots of stuff on the internet, not clear for me what is most compatible for you.
here are videos of jon Kabat-zinn (the guy behind MBSR)
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Jon+Kabat-Zinn+&search_type=&aq=f

short guide that sounds good.
http://www.meditationcenter.com/connect/mind.html
http://www.meditationcenter.com/info/8points.html


I'd be very happy to hear form those who tried or are trying.
Practical application is what counts. And Hearing from real people in real time. Maybeo offering my ageless wisdom, can be very interesting.

Anonymous said...

beatiful chat, zilber i have read 'Destructive Emotions' book narrated by Daniel Goleman, it is a beatiful book talking about this matters, and i have learning that science and religion is becoming too close or psicology and budism are in the same way but with different aesthetics......A zilber follower from Mexico.

I.C. said...

about why not: I don't believe "inconsistency of preferences" or "self-control" are very relevant - basically most of what we do is automatic / habit / history, we decide much less and in a much narrower frame than we believe. In addition, these habits+automatisms for a kind of a system - changing one small thing will in most cases bring you back to the start soon (but it's not hopeless: nonlinearity also implies that sometimes a small change may free you)
Thus the basic answer of why not is - education and social environment for me.
about meditation:
1. one should not underestimate the dangers involved - after all sects are using it regularly in order to ... control
2. said that, I believe meditation is good - but in a broader sense: dancing can be meditation, walking can be meditation, sports can be meditation, sex can be meditation...
and "meditation" is no meditation if you force it, ...

lots more to say... but time is over

Yechezkel Zilber said...

I.C.

wisdom is sensed.

sects use meditation to control? maybe. But we are talking about when I do it with no sect.

There are negatives for sure.
I thought that there is practical costs to be more calm. Especially when you are in constant danger to be taken advantage of.
Being calm may7be worth the cost of losing here and here. But there are sometimes positives of being in constant stress.

you are right that many activities can be like meditation.
Part of mindfulness training is about being mindful and "being there" all time long.
Still formal practice is very useful. Althought walking can be considered as formal meditation if done correctly.

PS. There are findings about negatives of meditation, but it must be a part of the picture as usual with scientific literature.
http://trancenet.net/research/2000perezdealbeniz.shtml
under side effects

http://www.noetic.org/research/medbiblio/ch4.htm
towards the end

Harvey Hyman said...

I have been meditating everyday for nearly two years and I get tremendous benefits - lower stress, more patience and increased feelings of peace and compassion. Regarding time, people who meditate see time differently and have more time than other people. Why? They cease to see time as a matter of what the clock says. When I meditate time ceases. I become completely relaxed and completely present to my experience. I no longer feel compelled to obsessively check the clock or get things done. The ability to relax and exist in the present stays with me and carves out openings in clock time. When I stay in these openings I have a greater sense of freedom and an ability to see more options, so I feel less pressured. This may not make any sense unless you meditate, but if it sounds the least bit appealing, I hope you will start meditating on a regular basis!