A three-family model of meditation practices

Anna L, modified 4 Years ago at 1/18/18 2:51 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 1/17/18 9:20 PM

A three-family model of meditation practices

Posts: 232 Join Date: 1/21/17 Recent Posts
I just came across an excellent research paper called "Reconstructing and deconstructing the self: cognitive mechanisms in meditation practice": https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26231761/

In this paper the authors dileneate three broad types of meditation practices based on the primary cognitive mechanism involved in the practice. These are:

1) Attentional Meditation Practices: work on attention regulation and increasing meta-awareness. These practices decrease self-referential thought and increase present-centered awareness. E.g. samatha; fire kasina.

2) Deconstructive Meditation Practices: self-inquiry. E.g. vipassana; Advaita Vedanta self-enquiry.

3) Constructive Meditation Practices: involve re-appraisal, perspective-taking and changes to self-schema. These practices strengthen psychological patterns that foster well-being. They involve systematically altering the content of thoughts and emotions. E.g. metta, LKM.

I really like this model as I think it points towards how an imbalance between practice families could lead to problems in some people (e.g. dark night). Doing too many de-constructive practices or even too much focused attention meditation could possibly lead to too much “un-selfing”, which could be de-stabilising in some people. This could explain some of the dissociative effects seen in some practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and also those who practice dry insight/vipassana only. Adding in constructive practices like Metta can help treat dissociation by helping to build a healthy psychological self. Shinzen actually talks about using this exact tactic to help dark night yogis in his “Pit of the Void” video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9zIKQCwDXsA

I know the aim of practice is to realise non-self, however most of us still need to function as healthy human beings with some minimal form of healthy psychological self in order to live in this world (I.e. pragmatic Dharma!). Hence, why I am a fan of balancing concentration, insight and loving kindness practices for best results. 
Hope this is of interest to some emoticon