Meditation has taken two divergent paths through the Western mind. For many, it’s a few quick, calming breaths, perhaps timed with a smartphone app, in search of a stress tonic that can soften anxiety’s edges. Along a less-traveled route, meditation remains what it long was: a deeply transformative pursuit, a devoted metamorphosis of the mind toward increasingly enlightened states.

But this bifurcated view of meditation as a relaxing practice for the masses and a life-changing practice for the committed few is deeply misleading. A spectrum runs between them, harboring experiences that are far more interesting and powerful than what the growing mindfulness industry advertises, and more accessible to average people than what tropes of arcane states like enlightenment suggest.

Given that wealthy countries like the US aren’t exactly riding trend lines toward new peaks of mental health (depression rates in American adults are at an all-time high, while young people appear in the grips of a mental health crisis), scalable ways of not just mindfully soothing, but completely re-creating psychological experiences for the better should set off sirens of general, scientific, and funding intrigue.

For the past two decades, […]

Read the Full Article