As an atheist and skeptic, I enjoy thinking, reflecting, pondering.   The idea to deliberately stop thinking appears ludicrous to me.   

Over the years, I have read many definitions of what meditation is supposed to be, but behind many big words it seem essentially to be just an attempt to stop thinking.  Personally I am puzzled, how not thinking can attract anybody.  

Yet so many people claim, that meditation is beneficial for them.   They obviously feel something they call spirituality and it seems that by meditation they can enhance it.  It is elusive to me, just as the idea of somebody claiming to be spiritual but not religious is beyond my comprehension. Feeling interconnected with some cosmical power is as alien to me as is the belief in a deity.   
Sometimes I am wondering, if some spirituality module is lacking in my brain.   Or rather, that I am free of it.   I do not miss spirituality, whatever it may be, but I am puzzled, why it is of so much importance to so many people.   The belief in a deity and in the power of rituals like praying can be explained by extrinsic influences.   But this elusive spirituality seems to be intrinsic.  

Do other atheists experience something like spirituality?   Are there others, who are as void of it as I am?  

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The squirrel movie is impressive.   But I consider it as extremely improbable, that any squirrel would ever discover this entire obstacle course without training. 
I have been googling, and training squirrels is a widespread hobby.   Here is a page, where someone shows step by step, how he has trained squirrels .

I am basing my views mainly on Skinner's research about operant conditioning.   Rats learn to press a lever to get a food pellet by random explorative behavior, if receiving the reward without much delay.  This contingency is then engraved into the rat's brain.   

If a rat has learned to press a long thin green lever for food, would be put in a different cage with a short thick red lever, this is a different situation, and the rat has to discover it again by trial and error.    The rat may generalize the successful behavior of the pressing movement but it has to do some such movements to discover this different lever again by trial and error.  

If the rat would think, it would look around the new cage and recognize the lever due to having the typical property of something fixed with one end to the wall that can be pressed.  Thinking means to have a concept of what is a lever.   The thinking rat would first decide to press the lever expecting to get a food pellet and then do it.  
Skinner's rats get rewarded for behavior, that is at first random, until it has become conditioned.   The squirrels get rewarded with food, that they see already.   But they also learn the behavior, how to get the food, by trial and error.   

I think you will find this interesting. TED Talk Joshua Klein

In westernised yoga, meditation is like giving attention to your body as a way of becoming calm and relaxed. I have only come across meditation in 1 hour yoga classes conducted at my sport club. The classes conclude with 5 or 10 minutes of relaxation and meditation. To achieve calm and relaxation breathing is very important as is thinking about your body and not thinking of external things. The eyes are closed and the skilled teachers voice guides and assists. The whole process is about getting in touch with your body and not tormenting your mind with supernatural nonsense. Every yoga teacher has different ways and you can find one that suits you. It's Atheist friendly.

Yes, I have corrected my prejudice, that meditation equals woo-woo.    The experience itself obviously is not woo-woo, only people thus predisposed interpret it as woo-woo.  

Personally, my favorite technique is Jacobson's progressive muscle relaxation.   It has a special appeal for rational people, because it is an active sequence of tensing and relaxing, where every step is a conscious decision.    

Yes, the Jacobson technique was used in the classes I attended for years. Now I smoke  Moroccan hash and go swimming. I go into a dream in the weightlessness of the water where I seem cut-off from the hassles of the outside world. My breathing is deep and relaxed and I feel good. My thinking slows right down. It's nice to be a whale.

Spiritual Atheism ? We emanate from the earth and to the earth we return. Here's an explanation I like from a recognisable young woman.

I consider her definition of spirituality as woo-woo.

My woo-woo meter is glowing red and the alarm bells are r-i-n-g-i-n-g.

W-a-a-a-a-y too complicated.

You feel happy. That's good. But that's all it is; a momentary feeling of happiness. Now ... move on.



But, we each have our predispositions, whether or not we understand why. Maybe it’s an evolutionary thing of natural selection, and somebody in the future will observe which has survived.


I see projection as one of the big problems, why people have problems with each other.  I do not mean projection in the limited sense of seeing the own faults only in others.   I mean projection as the tendency to always think, that others are like oneself.    The more people are average, the more they fall into this trap of norm-centrism.  

Being different helps to avoid projecting.   I accept to be different.

This discussion has corrected my previous prejudice of connecting meditation with woo-woo.   But it is like with your tomatoes and cucumbers.   Meditation is beneficial only for some people, they discover it and they do it.   There is no need in my brain for it, I am fine without it.    Attempts to explain something to me based upon the projection, that I should be wired to experience what they experience leads nowhere except to me being suspected to be a troll.   




note that I made no suggestion whatsoever for what YOU should do.

That is, what I appreciated.   I liked your metaphor of the tomatoes and cucumbers.  


I can't keep up with the order of this tread....


Anyhow - 


Meditation Techniques:


Focusing on the breath coming out of the nose onto the top lip

Holding your hand with a finger on each eye and calming the eyes by stroking forwards

Curling the tongue back to touch the back of the throat


I usually only meditate if I'm feeling lonely at night or can't sleep - and I use it to get to sleep, calm myself from anxiety or feel more light and happy - I use the top one - I find the others hard work.




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