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meditating on emptiness
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3/28/19 7:51 AM
Saw this on Lion's Roar website recently: New study suggests meditating on emptiness might be better than mindfulness
I
 could not find the original study, so I am assuming that mindfulness here refers to insight-vipassana type practice, but I am not sure what they mean by meditating on emptiness. They found, "
even though participants already demonstrated high levels of wellbeing and spiritual insight, meditating on emptiness led to a 24 percent reduction of negative emotions, 16 percent increase in compassionate feelings, and 10 percent reduction in attachment to themselves and their external experiences."
Any thoughts on this appreciated, thanks

RE: meditating on emptiness
Answer
3/28/19 8:04 AM as a reply to Gus Castellanos.
Any vipassana practice worth the name does investigate emptiness, as it is one of the three characteristics. I would guess that they have found, not very surprisingly, that the real vipassana actually works better than popularized versions with no substance.

RE: meditating on emptiness
Answer
3/28/19 9:04 AM as a reply to Gus Castellanos.
lmao. I haven't read the study, but this article reads pretty not-the-onion-y. Look at this:
Findings also showed that participants experienced emptiness as an
underlying fabric of the mind and reality. In other words, they felt
that the nature of reality is not as concrete as people generally think.
wtf does that even mean? Or this:
If further studies suggest that emptiness is a scientific truth of
existence, says Van Gordon, then it may be necessary for scientists to
reexamine how they interpret psychological and physical phenomena.
And it gets better:
Led by psychologist and lecturer William Van Gordon, an international research team conducted the first-ever study to investigate the impact of Buddhist emptiness meditation.
1

If
emptiness meditation = meditation that makes you realize emptiness aka
the 3Cs (which is just about every type of meditation except
brahmaviharas and watered-down MBSR type stuff) then that statement
is... 100% wrong.
And also:
Within the same month, they also practiced a mindfulness meditation that didn’t involve any emptiness components.
If
you ask someone with a 25-year history of meditation to be mindful of
stuff (whatever that means) then how do you make sure that they do
not... see anything of the 3Cs aka emptiness?

The study might be actually not that bad, but this article seems pretty meaningless to me.

RE: meditating on emptiness
Answer
3/28/19 9:23 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Yeah, it seems like somebody who is not very skilled at doing qualitative research has conducted ”qualitative reasearch” (asking people about their experiences) within the framework of an otherwise poor experimental design and treated the findings as a generalizable quantitative truth instead of using the approach for what it’s good for (and with a proper methodology). However, it is just as likely that the reporter made that mistake rather than the researchers. Research is all too often misrepresented in the media. It could be both, though...

Also, it’s obvious that either the researchers or the reporter or both lack knowledge of meditation.

RE: meditating on emptiness
Answer
3/29/19 4:27 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks for the replies Linda and Rhubard. The article seems to infer there is a specific meditation on emptiness that is not the same thing as mindfulness. The issue may be that the mindfulness they are referring to is the therapeutic mindfulness that is common these days, and not to the more traditional mindfulness? Without the original publication, it's hard for me to know. And the same goes for the experimental design--not clear from the Lion's Roar post what actually was done...which points to the lay publications tendency to hype up their stories for their audiences. 

RE: meditating on emptiness
Answer
3/29/19 6:52 AM as a reply to Gus Castellanos.
The article seems to infer there is a specific meditation on emptiness that is not the same thing as mindfulness. The issue may be that the mindfulness they are referring to is the therapeutic mindfulness that is common these days, and not to the more traditional mindfulness?

That's my take on it.

I read through the Lion's Roar article and the underlying study. The authors are comparing mindfulness meditation, which they describe as focusing on the breath as perceived in the movement of the diaphragm, and focusing on the impermanence of objects, what they call "wisdom meditation." I'm comfortable with this distinction and the article appears to me to be meaningful.

I do a wisdom based mediation quite often. I sit and notice as objects arise and notice how they arise and how they appear and how they pass. That's impermanence. I also do a concentration based mediation where I focus on one object, let's say the breath, and allow the mind to become absorbed with that one thing - not noticing the in/out, there/not there nature of the object but rather encourage steadiness in the mental image of the object.

The authors are NOT saying that mindfulness meditation is vipassana. They ARE describing mindfulness practice as that practiced by users of MBSR, simple meditation on the breath.

I have to say, my experience over the years causes me I agree with their findings. The insight into impermanence is a crucial realization and leads to additional and deeper realizations that take a practitioner into territory that will ultimately provide more stability, personal growth, and wisdom. That's the objective of the path, it's why we practice vipassana and it's what this message board and the underlying text (MCTB/MCTB2) are all about.

RE: meditating on emptiness
Answer
3/29/19 6:56 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Findings also showed that participants experienced emptiness as an underlying fabric of the mind and reality. In other words, they felt that the nature of reality is not as concrete as people generally think.

This is meaningful and correct from my experience. Impermanence and emptiness is part of the underlying fabric of how the mind produces our experience, which is the fabric of our reality. So yes, the nature of our experience is not as solid and concrete as most people think it is. This is an important insight.

RE: meditating on emptiness
Answer
3/29/19 4:40 PM as a reply to Gus Castellanos.
Gus Castellanos:
Saw this on Lion's Roar website recently: New study suggests meditating on emptiness might be better than mindfulness
I
 could not find the original study, so I am assuming that mindfulness here refers to insight-vipassana type practice, but I am not sure what they mean by meditating on emptiness. They found, "
even though participants already demonstrated high levels of wellbeing and spiritual insight, meditating on emptiness led to a 24 percent reduction of negative emotions, 16 percent increase in compassionate feelings, and 10 percent reduction in attachment to themselves and their external experiences."
Any thoughts on this appreciated, thanks
aloha gus,

   The application of statistical analysis to such subtle feelings smacks of self-parody. One can imagine the state of mind of the researchers, and that of the subjects. One looking for the absurd, the other serving it up; but which is which? All participants no doubt report feeling good about the results. High levels. One wonders if participating subjects got a report at the end certifying the percentage of increase in compassion and insight, and the percentage reduction in negativity. All based on their subjective reports.

   Garbage in, garbage out. (The word "garbage," by the way, originally refers to clothing: garb-age.)

terry