Meditation Followup

I got tired of reading the book on Vipassana meditation. It’s mostly nonsense.

My mostly-certain judgments:

The idea that “not caring” is always the ideal direction is silly.

The idea of being really aware of what’s going on in your mind, rather than being driven by emotional repulsion fields, and especially by childish do-not-want! feelings toward the way things really are in relation to you, is beautiful and what I’ve already always aspired to.

The idea that actively resting from activity allows training in the above, and/or is more restorative than simply adding extra (quality) sleep time, is unsettled in my mind. I’ve definitely achieved significant pleasure in resting while being observant of how I feel (meditating, in some sense; but I didn’t invest a lot of time really following their specific advice so can’t fairly say how effective it is, except that I don’t find their advice in general to be well-motivated beyond ‘trust us, we spent a lot of time trying different things’). But that awake-rest is more pleasurable and interesting than real sleep only because I can’t remember much of what goes on when I’m asleep. It doesn’t mean that it’s more physically helpful or even likely to form new insights more effectively.

I guess in the same way that people may choose to spend time on various drugs, because they can reach different states of mind there, if I wanted variety for variety’s sake, I might want a few minutes daily of meditation. Whether or not it’s better on average than the alternatives (sleep or activity), it’s at least different.

As an example of things that meditation subtracts time from, other than sleep, I’ve started ‘composing’ music (improvising using a keyboard and instrument samples, really). During this time I’m not thinking about myself at all. I doubt I’m improving at anything other than imagining sounds and mapping sounds to the requisite finger movements (it’s thought that focused practice, and learning in general, may preserve or amplify some global brain attributes, but I doubt anyone’s proved it). But it feels nice in moderation, and I can’t say my life would be any better if I meditated instead. Almost any time I’d be tempted to meditate, I’m more tempted to perform this (equally pointless) activity. It’s more rewarding. It’s true that I could expect to become ‘better’ at meditating in some sense, but practicing music offers definitive, and (I’m not sure how important this is) sharable improvements.

Of course, I’m not only picking a single most rewarding activity and sustaining it in every available moment (other than necessities like work/sleep/food/bills). My internal reward diminishes eventually, and during its refractory period, I’ll do the next thing. That implements a sort of preference for novelty and variety. Also, I have feelings of ‘needing to recharge facility X’ or “I can’t do this as well now because I’m tired, I’ll do something else until I go to sleep or nap, then I’ll get back to it when rested”.

That’s my explanation of why I don’t have a meditation habit, even though I never convinced myself that it would be a complete waste of time.

For sure I disagree with most things that come from a guru-driven (or worse, religion-driven) school, and that includes any sort of meditation instruction I’ve come across. I think it’s actually irresponsible to “try out” practices and beliefs too whole-heartedly. Once you endorse a set of practices at all, you enlist all your biases to cementing them in you. I do believe in avoiding unnecessary stress, and feeling like you need to continually monitor changes in yourself during such an experiment, in order to avoid passing a point of no return, doesn’t sound like fun. I don’t think I’m infinitely susceptible to influence, but I am definitely somewhat susceptible to both self-influence and peer pressure.