Alison Gopnik

‘I think that there’s a paradox about, for example, going out and saying, I am going to meditate and stop trying to get goals. Because I have this goal, which is I want to be a much better meditator. And I have done a bit of meditation and workshops, and it’s always a little amusing when you see the young men who are going to prove that they’re better at meditating. They can sit for longer than anybody else can. But I think it’s important to say when you’re thinking about things like meditation, or you’re thinking about alternative states of consciousness in general, that there’s lots of different alternative states of consciousness. So it isn’t just a choice between lantern and spotlight. There’s lots of different ways that we have of being in the world, lots of different kinds of experiences that we have. And I suspect that they each come with a separate, a different kind of focus, a different way of being. And in meditation, you can see the contrast between some of these more pointed kinds of meditation versus what’s sometimes called open awareness meditation. So open awareness meditation is when you’re not just focused on one thing, when you try to be open to everything that’s going on around you. And the phenomenology of that is very much like this kind of lantern, that everything at once is illuminated. And I think that kind of open-ended meditation and the kind of consciousness that it goes with is actually a lot like things that, for example, the romantic poets, like Wordsworth, talked about. So there’s this lovely concept that I like of the numinous. And sometimes it’s connected with spirituality, but I don’t think it has to be. It’s this idea that you’re going through the world. And often, quite suddenly, if you’re an adult, everything in the world seems to be significant and important and important and significant in a way that makes you insignificant by comparison.’ (from the New York Times)

I found this whole piece pretty intriguing, not least because they brought ‘beginner’s mind’ into the conversation. This paragraph made me smile, as did several others, so look out for further extracts to come.


One thought on “Alison Gopnik

  1. When i sit in meditation practice I listen to my breath like a kid listening to the ocean in a seashell. I set my timer so that I don’t have to be concerned about time.I am not trying to meditate or levitate or anything else like that. I am embracing myself with my mind.

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