Consciousness and mental health

by Markfromcali 6 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Markfromcali

    I thought it would be good to point out the difference between consciousness work, such as meditation and certain types of spirituality, and mental health. Although there are some overlaps as it does deal with your mind, it's occurred to me that mental health is primarily concerned with the psyche, and in that sense it might be considered a type of specialization in terms of a particular work dealing with human consciousness. While things like meditation can help give you a degree of peace - and sometimes lasting shifts in consciousness - it would be good to understand the difference.

    These days meditation is becoming more popular, and people are attracted to paths like Buddhism for the same reason, but it really isn't a substitute for mental health care. The reason why it 'works' sometimes is because it deals with the mind at a deeper level, and so if one goes through it all the way it can render problems of the psyche irrelevant. However, if that is not even the intention in the first place, then it is possible that it can intensify (which I would distinguish from worsen) the pathological experience.

    More specifically, if there is a readiness or an actual movement toward a state of consciousness beyond ego, then the role of some kind of contemplative practice becomes relevant - which is not to say it is the only thing needed. But on the other hand if there is no such movement or readiness, then it only makes sense to deal with things on the egoic level and a process of integration to bring about some coherent sense of self in that way. In fact, I would say depending on where someone is at on "the spiritual path", you would want to do both to cover your basis - if they are really digging into consciousness. Furthermore this has nothing to do with belief, someone may take Buddhism as a religion but the state of consciousness can be equal to something like the average Jehovah's Witness or something.

    Now there are therapists who are knowledgeable in both out there these days, and beside the concern of whether they understand it on more than an academic level it just goes to reason that depending on where the client is at someone with specialized expertise on where they're at would be better at sorting things out there. But I'm sure these therapists are helpful for people who are kind of in between or in transition, and I expect to come to know more of them in the future so it should be interesting to learn about the kind of work they do.

  • ezekiel3

    I'm not sure I understand you premise but I would like to comment on the general topic. Considering this line:

    Furthermore this has nothing to do with belief, someone may take Buddhism as a religion but the state of consciousness can be equal to something like the average Jehovah's Witness or something.

    Buddhism is very much about releasing your ego and your seperation as "conscious." I don't know how someone could sincerely claim Buddhism as an egoist.

    Yet JWs are all about the ego. The entire premise of paradise/resurrection is on me living forever. God is a person and knows me personally.

    JWs say: letting your mind rest in meditation is "evil." Why? Because there is no me (and demons will find a place to roost).

    JWs only accept medication for mental ills. Why? Because 1) counseling may allow a "worldly person" to destroy your faith with "man's wisdom" and 2) mental exercises such as meditation or creative visualization "smack of spiritism."

  • darkuncle29

    My personal experience the past three-four years is that meditation has helped me prune out the lesser problems, or to manage them, but the deeper issues are still there, and getting like you said; intense.

    I've helped myself alot, but am to the point where I need a guide to help me to make some headway, and then I think I can take off on my own again.

  • Satanus

    It does seem like the visualisations/focused meditation i do improves my mental state. I am less depressed this yr than i was last yr. It could be the meditation, or it could be just a natural rebalancing after the removal of controling/limiting beliefs.


  • redhotchilipepper

    This is very interesting. A friend of mine had suggested meditation to me the other day. Being the way I've been raised as a JW, I've never concidered this. She said it might calm me. She knows I'm very hyper. I think I can do meditation until the cows come home and I'll still be a hyper, energetic person but hey it's worth a try. I guess I find it a little intimidating. It's probably because of my upbringing in the Org. Can it help with depression. It sounds like it from the previous comments. I'm intrigued.

  • Markfromcali

    Hi Ezekiel,

    Of course that is what Buddhism is supposed to be about, and of course Christianity is supposed to be about love of neighbor - but it is like the ego co-opts these ideas rather than sincerely practicing or 'applying' it in life. In the case of Buddhism, naturally it threatens the ego. It is of course self deception, and the person doesn't see what they are doing. But in context of what I was discussing, it isn't even so much about someone being full of himself, but I am speaking of ego from a functional perspective. Sometimes the opposite is the case, and when someone is downtrodden like that it is certainly not the time to try to bring about 'ego death' - that would just compound the existing effect of abuse.

    Now as far as meditation is concerned, and the relationship between it and mental health and the egoic state of consciousness, it just depends on where someone is at. The rule of thumb seems to be someone who has relatively good mental health would do okay with it, but if someone has lots of issues or essentially an unstable ego structure, then it is best if they practice with some guidance and sometimes not at all. When I was doing meditation retreats there would sometimes be people who have stuff come up and the teacher will recommend they stop meditating and go home.

    See basically the point I am making, which is by no means original is that meditation ultimately points to a deeper aspect of the mind - and not so much a technique which brings temporary relief of mental suffering, even if one practices regularly as a kind of maintenance care. When that is seen clearly, which implies seeing through the ego as a relatively superficial aspect of yourself, there is more of a permanent shift in consciousness. In other words it is about a kind of discovery, and not a form of conditioning. Another view would frame it as a developmental process, which strictly speaking you cannot force by using a technique anymore than you can make someone mature physically. This is where the inquisitive aspect comes in, such as koans in the zen tradition and inquiry with Advaita Vedanta.

    Now having said that, I would have to add you wouldn't go into this judgement like how you're too much of a mess to do this. In that spirit of discovery, you can certainly try it if you are drawn to meditation. The whole thing is really a very natural process, there's no need to force yourself into a certain type of meditation practice or sit a particular way. If you feel you need guidance and there is no guidance available where you're at, look up the info online and try it out for yourself, and talk with people - just take care to see how you're doing and don't try to force anything. After all the whole thing is about understanding yourself deeply, not trying to fit into someone else's mould of how you should be.

  • Markfromcali
    It could be the meditation, or it could be just a natural rebalancing after the removal of controling/limiting beliefs.

    S, I would say the two are not separate. It is like that metaphor of the glass of dirty water, if you just let it settle the dirt drops and the water becomes clear. So in the same way if we don't use meditation to manipulate the mind, but just to let it settle and re-harmonize - then a natural peace becomes apparent.

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