top of page

How to read this blog

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Before you dive into the blog, I’d like to issue a few caveats and disclaimers about how I come to be writing it, and how you should approach it.


So, who am I to be writing this?


First and foremost, I am a meditator. I am writing this to share my thoughts on meditation and related practices based on my own experience and on conversations with other meditators.


Second, I have taught a lot of people to meditate, and that experience informs some of what I write. Most of this has been in the context of individual therapy, where many of my clients try out 10-20 minutes of meditation per day. Nowadays, I work in private practice and most of my clients have had neither severe mental health problems nor significant histories of trauma. But in the past, in the NHS, I have taught mindfulness and meditation to people who have suffered those things.


Third, I am a Clinical Psychologist. But this is not especially important, because I’m not sure that it gives me much special insight into these matters. In some of my blogposts, I refer to psychological models, theories, and therapeutic approaches when making a point about meditation, but I do so mostly because it might interest the reader. The point itself is usually one that any meditator or teacher of meditation might make.


And who am I not, when I’m writing this?


I am not a spiritual teacher and am not qualified to be one (though I have done some formal training in teaching secular mindfulness). Nor am I an advanced-level meditator - I'm a committed meditator, but there are lots of people who have done much more practice than me, and had experiences that I've only read about. So, I am not claiming any spiritual or meditative attainments. But as far as I know, many contemplative traditions say it is okay for a meditator to share what they know with others, however much or little that is, and so that is what I am doing.


I am also not claiming the authority of science. For one thing, I am not a researcher, and so I’m not especially expert when it comes to that side of psychology. And for another, a lot of people who are expert in that area say that the supposed scientific backing for meditation, mindfulness, and related practices has been somewhat over-egged (more information here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29016274/). So, while science may ultimately vindicate all the claims of meditation enthusiasts, my understanding is that it hasn't done so yet, and so I wouldn't want to rely on it.


And, finally, a word about adverse effects of meditation, i.e. distress and harm. It is normal to encounter painful thoughts and emotions while meditating, but these are usually transitory and can even be framed as a healthy part of the process. If you have suffered trauma, this could be more of a problem, as traumatic memories and associated sensations could be activated by meditation, and you might find yourself overwhelmed. You can find out more here: https://davidtreleaven.com . And then there are apparently people who suffer severe, long-lasting adverse effects. These effects seem to be rare (I’ve never met anyone who’s suffered one, for what that’s worth) and when they do happen, it’s usually in the context of intensive retreat practice rather than moderate home practice. But if you are interested or concerned, you can find more information here: https://www.cheetahhouse.org .


So, if you choose to read the blog and perhaps try out things suggested in it,

please do it because you are interested, rather than because you think I have any special knowledge or authority. And if you are at all worried about adverse effects, please do some reading on the subject, and consider starting your meditation in a context where you can talk to a competent teacher (this could be a course, a regular sitting group, or 1-1 mentoring).


All of that said, please dive in!

Comments


bottom of page