Psychological change with introspection and meditation?

When the Beatles learnt to meditate in the early 60-ies, the influence from the East was quite strong; with a focus on a spiritual aspect. Since then, the focus has changed into more emphasis on well-being, which is central for modern people with busy lives. Meditation for stress reduction is now widely used. Stress management contributes to release of tension and a calmer mind.

Does it really work?
We also see an increasing request for evidence of effects: does it really work? A growing body of scientific studies has provided documentation for a variety of effects, including reduced anxiety and more stable mood. What about other psychological effects, like increased self-insight? Obviously, this requires more time than increased well-being during and immediately after meditation.

What is underneath the slip of the tongue?
Many find the potential long-term effects fascinating – a possibility to change some of the psychological patterns we don’t like. A typical example is that we repeat patterns in our everyday life that cause us, as well as others, pain in interpersonal relationships; getting irritated, impatient or angry too quickly, in the wrong moments. Freudian self-analysis isn’t an easy way to change such patterns on one’s own. A Freudian slip of the tongue may actually require a lot of introspective exploration to fully understand the psychological motive that caused the slip. Although introspection has a long tradition in psychology, it isn’t a quick fix for persistent psychological patterns.

Is meditation a quick fix?
Psychological changes tend to occur after regular practice of meditation for some time, rather than quickly. If practiced with the optimal mental attitude, meditation may be a powerful method. A goal-oriented attitude doesn’t work as effectively for change as an open mental attitude during meditation. The open attitude enhances gradual, slow increase of insight. During this process, some subconscious material will often reach our awareness. This may be a fascinating process. Although we do not actively explore our psychological drives, motives and central themes during meditation, the training in the open attitude may increase self-insight. Then the next step may be easier – to change some of the psychological patterns we do not appreciate.

The return of the unconscious

During this process, some subconscious material will often reach our awareness. This may be a fascinating process. Although we do not actively explore our psychological drives, motives and central themes during meditation, the training in the open attitude may increase self-insight. Then the next step may be easier – to change some of the psychological patterns we do not appreciate.

3 Comments

  1. introspection method is very good technique to treat one mental illness like depression and other emotional disorders like anger and fear.

  2. Meditation is a great way to reflect upon oneself and find true inner peace. I usually meditate daily first thing in the morning as a form of escapism. It’s very invigorating and this was a great post that reaffirms my belief in the effectiveness of meditation upon ones physical, mental, spiritual health.

  3. I have been practicing vipassana meditation lately. This what is known as “insight” meditation. The main goal is not concentration or tranquility, but awareness of things as the truly are in the present moment.

    My biggest discovery has been later when I am not meditating. That has been the increase of observing ego. This ability to recognize my thoughts and emotions as they happen is allowing me to be more objective about the situation, and correct my course of action before I engage in negative behavior.

    The calming and peaceful side effects of meditation are great, but the insight I am gaining goes far beyond that.

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