[part of the “__ is an artmonk” series]
BTW, Lynch’s favorite technique, Transcendental Meditation, was mentioned in a Huffington Post article “How Meditation Techniques Compare — Zen, Mindfulness, Transcendental Meditation and more”. According to the article, some scientists are finding it useful to distinguish between 3 types of meditation, with distinct benefits:
- Controlled focus: Classic examples of concentration or controlled focus are found in the revered traditions of Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Qiqong, Yoga and Vedanta, though many methods involve attempts to control or direct the mind. Attention is focused on an object of meditation–such as one’s breath, an idea or image, or an emotion. Brain waves recorded during these practices are typically in the gamma frequency (20-50 Hz), seen whenever you concentrate or during “active” cognitive processing.2
- Open monitoring: These mindfulness type practices, common in Vipassana and Zazen, involve watching or actively paying attention to experiences–without judging, reacting or holding on. Open monitoring gives rise to frontal theta (4-8 Hz), an EEG pattern commonly seen during memory tasks or reflection on mental concepts.3
- Automatic self-transcending: This category describes practices designed to go beyond their own mental activity–enabling the mind to spontaneously transcend the process of meditation itself. Whereas concentration and open monitoring require degrees of effort or directed focus to sustain the activity of meditation, this approach is effortless because there is no attempt to direct attention–no controlled cognitive processing. An example is the Transcendental Meditation technique. The EEG pattern of this category is frontal alpha coherence, associated with a distinct state of relaxed inner wakefulness.
I’m not exactly sure what the last one would refer to in non-TM traditions. One paper refers to “automatic self-transcending” meditation techniques in Vedic and Chinese traditions, but I’m not sure exactly what this practice is, specifically.
[Update: Some comments from around the web:]
Examples of other “automatic self-transcending” techniques include “Zazen evolving into shikantaza (just sitting), the ‘beyond’ technique of Shambhala, shamatha without support.”
Morning Star Dhamma remarks: “It should be noted that Jeanne Ball is a proponent of TM, a technique that is taught on a fee basis, starting at $1,500. (Please seehttp://twitter.com/jeanneball.) Her article appears to state that TM is “transcending” is a way that other meditation practices are not. I’m skeptical about this position. The best starting place, as the Buddha taught, is to become well grounded in basic Sila practice, basic morality practices. From that standpoint, one might find a good meditation teacher (there are plenty of free opportunities out there), and progress according to one’s kamma. Best wishes.”