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surferdude

Emptying your mind.

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Grateful you guys are here! I need to be more active on this site to help me in my recovery. 

 

Weird topic to bring up. At least for me it is.

 

I was a Christian a longtime ago, but I have a few issues still. BTW I suffer at times with an Anxiety Diisorder. Which might explain this irrational issue.

 

I have very old memories of the things I was indoctrinated. The one thing that has come up for time to time is something regarding "Emptying your mind" could be dangerous or something. That you could be allowing the enemy or Devil I guess to invade your mind. It actually makes me laugh to write this. It makes me think that the church is afraid if you "Empty your mind" you might actually have some clarity and they don't want That!

 

What are your thoughts on this topic? Thanks!

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When you say "empty your mind" is there any connection to Eastern philosophy or religion?  When I saw the title I thought you might be talking about the zen meaning for "empty your mind".  When I was a Christian I would occasionally hear a pastor take a shot at Eastern religion.

 

Either way I don't see how it could be dangerous.

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1 hour ago, mymistake said:

When you say "empty your mind" is there any connection to Eastern philosophy or religion?  When I saw the title I thought you might be talking about the zen meaning for "empty your mind".  When I was a Christian I would occasionally hear a pastor take a shot at Eastern religion.

 

Either way I don't see how it could be dangerous.

Yeah I think that might be what they were talking about. I think some Meditations might help me with my Anxiety. It makes me a little nervous about trying it. But it could be very beneficial. 

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The church is afraid of anything unless it comes from the pulpit. The fear the "New Age" stuff, but if it comes from the pulpit disguised as the Bible, then it's fine. They fear that "Eastern mysticism", but don't really know what it is, and they don't want to know. To them it is "the Enemy" deceiving people about The Truth™. Fear is what drives the religion. They say it is love, and these days they tend to initially sell the religion based on love rather than fear, but then revert to fear quickly to keep the freshly hooked from leaving.

 

There is no devil, there is no pissed god on a throne handing out judgments, no angels wafting about, no demons trying to get you through video games and secular music, and anything else they've feared over the 2000 years they've been pushing their snake oil.

 

There are techniques that one can use to help calm the mind and emotions, to distract the mind from difficult situations and focus on other things. Nothing to fear about them at all. Meditation is simply putting your mind and emotional focus on something for a while to give it a rest from worry or anxiety. It helps to realize that while life brings difficult things, one can choose to focus on other things for a time. It also helps the mind process situations and work through things subconsciously while disarming the fear and whatever is perceived as a threat, or feels overwhelming. It is making a conscious choice to focus on quiet and peace in the midst of strife. That choice is the most powerful thing we have.

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8 hours ago, surferdude said:

Yeah I think that might be what they were talking about. I think some Meditations might help me with my Anxiety. It makes me a little nervous about trying it. But it could be very beneficial. 

 

 

I have had some success using meditation to deal with my own anxiety.  It boils down to focusing on how the rest of my environment doesn't care one bit about whatever was bothering me and then I take on that same emotion.  If you want to learn how to meditate you need to find a teacher offline.  I learned at Aikido class.  Or look for Zen Buddhists in your area.   To get proper feedback a teacher would need to see your efforts with their own eyes.

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15 hours ago, surferdude said:

Grateful you guys are here! I need to be more active on this site to help me in my recovery. 

 

Weird topic to bring up. At least for me it is.

 

I was a Christian a longtime ago, but I have a few issues still. BTW I suffer at times with an Anxiety Diisorder. Which might explain this irrational issue.

 

I have very old memories of the things I was indoctrinated. The one thing that has come up for time to time is something regarding "Emptying your mind" could be dangerous or something. That you could be allowing the enemy or Devil I guess to invade your mind. It actually makes me laugh to write this. It makes me think that the church is afraid if you "Empty your mind" you might actually have some clarity and they don't want That!

 

What are your thoughts on this topic? Thanks!

 

Sounds like emptying your mind could be on the naughty list I once saw at my Pentecostal church. Other things on the list were witchcraft, astral projection and lucid dreaming.

 

A religion that obsesses 24/7 about Jesus would definitely take issue with meditation. Some of my more wacky churchmates felt that Satan was always on the prowl and could enter into your life via attention to anything other than Jesus. Except NFL football, of course.

 

I think your conclusion is correct. They want your mind flooded with Jesus BS. Meditation is a threat to that.

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14 hours ago, Fuego said:

The church is afraid of anything unless it comes from the pulpit. The fear the "New Age" stuff, but if it comes from the pulpit disguised as the Bible, then it's fine. They fear that "Eastern mysticism", but don't really know what it is, and they don't want to know. To them it is "the Enemy" deceiving people about The Truth™. Fear is what drives the religion. They say it is love, and these days they tend to initially sell the religion based on love rather than fear, but then revert to fear quickly to keep the freshly hooked from leaving.

 

There is no devil, there is no pissed god on a throne handing out judgments, no angels wafting about, no demons trying to get you through video games and secular music, and anything else they've feared over the 2000 years they've been pushing their snake oil.

 

There are techniques that one can use to help calm the mind and emotions, to distract the mind from difficult situations and focus on other things. Nothing to fear about them at all. Meditation is simply putting your mind and emotional focus on something for a while to give it a rest from worry or anxiety. It helps to realize that while life brings difficult things, one can choose to focus on other things for a time. It also helps the mind process situations and work through things subconsciously while disarming the fear and whatever is perceived as a threat, or feels overwhelming. It is making a conscious choice to focus on quiet and peace in the midst of strife. That choice is the most powerful thing we have.

Thanks for the great input!

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10 hours ago, midniterider said:

 

Sounds like emptying your mind could be on the naughty list I once saw at my Pentecostal church. Other things on the list were witchcraft, astral projection and lucid dreaming.

 

A religion that obsesses 24/7 about Jesus would definitely take issue with meditation. Some of my more wacky churchmates felt that Satan was always on the prowl and could enter into your life via attention to anything other than Jesus. Except NFL football, of course.

 

I think your conclusion is correct. They want your mind flooded with Jesus BS. Meditation is a threat to that.

Agree!

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On 31/01/2018 at 4:33 PM, surferdude said:

Yeah I think that might be what they were talking about. I think some Meditations might help me with my Anxiety. It makes me a little nervous about trying it. But it could be very beneficial. 

 

Sam Harris has a lot of interesting things to say about both meditation and religion. He is an atheist, a neuroscientist and philosopher.

Meditation and mindfulness have helped me find more peace and happiness than I ever felt in church with Jesus.

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"Emptying your mind" is definitely referencing meditation.

 

Even a lot of people who aren't spiritual suggest it's a good practice. Meditation is really just focused thinking. If you've ever closed your eyes and thought about a particular thing and focused yourself on thinking about it, congratulations, you've meditated. I would argue that prayer is a form of meditation.

 

A lot of people have "rituals" they do for meditation. It can help to have a ritual just to help have a system that makes it easier to get started. I don't mean burning incense and lighting candles like you're summoning a ghost or anything. I mean, you can, but that's not what I'm talking about regarding "ritual".

 

The kind of ritual I'm talking about can be the same kind some people have for making a sandwich. If you always make one in the same spot, put everything you're going to use in specific places, and have a system for preparing to make a sandwich, you might make more sandwiches and make them faster and more consistently.

 

You don't have to do this, but some people find it helps to have a system of some sort.

 

You can meditate on anything, from how the tip of your little toe feels, to designing a circuit, to figuring out a math problem, thinking about a relaxing setting to reduce stress [thinking about being at the beach, or looking out a window at the rain, etc], taking the time to notice what parts of your body are tense and need to loosen up to make yourself more comfortable and prevent soreness, or even just pushing aside idle thoughts and getting in the right mindset to study or work on something without mental distractions.

 

You don't have to meditate on chakras, chi, or new age spiritualism. Or you can if that's your thing. This isn't ex-spiritualism. However, it doesn't really need to be anything spiritual at all.

 

Generally "clearing your mind" just means focusing on pushing away idle thoughts so you can focus on one subject. It's a discipline thing more than a literal emptying. It usually also involves controlled breathing.

 

Usually the "clearing/emptying your mind" phase of meditation also involves deliberate relaxation. Taking notice of tense muscles and consciously relaxing them. This is partially to calm, and partially to prevent distractions once you actually get into whatever you're meditating about.

 

You don't have to sit cross legged on the floor or otherwise take up some mystical position. Though it isn't a bad idea in some cases as it can help with posture if you're going to be sitting for a bit and doing it.

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Hello Surferdude! I was also raised with the beliefs and attitudes about meditation that you have. Same arguments, everything. My parents believe that meditation and yoga makes you demon possessed. Over time, though, yoga is becoming so normalized now (because it has such great health benefits), that now even many (moderate) christians practice it.

 

My personal suspicion is that they've corrupted the meanings of bible passages referring to idle or lazy thinking (along the lines of "an idle mind is the devil's workshop"), meaning, if you don't use your time wisely or are undisciplined you might end up doing stupid things (wild parties, envious thoughts, dumb pranks). In meditation the mind is alert (although quiet) and is anything but idle. Christians tend to be avid about prayers, and in my belief prayer is the same thing as meditation (people don't really admit this, but when some christians pray really avidly, like for hours, a lot of times they run out of things to say, and are simply silently "contemplating God" - how is that different from meditation??).

 

Anyways, I've rebelled against my parents' beliefs and have experimented with meditation over the years. I believe it's great and that it dramatically helped with my anxiety problems. Go for it!

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Christians will tend to condemn anything that might make people feel less need for God, not surprisingly.  Since my deconversion, some of the benefits of Christianity have been provided instead by meditation and the philosophy of Stoicism.  I’m not the only one that has experienced this.  No doubt both are considered threats to Christianity.  After all, if meditating can fill the role that prayer once did, that suggests that prayer acts solely in the mind of the person doing the praying.

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Real meditation is done without a goal. It's like music or dancing, there is no purpose beyond the act of doing it. If it's not fun, don't bother to do it.

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1 hour ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

Christians will tend to condemn anything that might make people feel less need for God,

 

BINGO!

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1 hour ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

Christians will tend to condemn anything that might make people feel less need for God, not surprisingly.  Since my deconversion, some of the benefits of Christianity have been provided instead by meditation and the philosophy of Stoicism.  I’m not the only one that has experienced this.  No doubt both are considered threats to Christianity.  After all, if meditating can fill the role that prayer once did, that suggests that prayer acts solely in the mind of the person doing the praying.

I agree with what you're saying, ThereAndBack. Especially in more authoritarian circles there's a lot of paranoia about any channel of therapy or emotional/spiritual help that is not directly linked to their authority. There's a paranoia about Psychotherapy, for example, as though it was a secular conspiracy to discredit religious authority. Meanwhile, many therapists are walking on eggshells to try not to offend people's religious beliefs while trying to apply their methods to help people. I mean, the sheer insecurity of these authoritarians!

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