Towards an Integration of Counselling,Clienting and Meditation

1.2 Meditation

There are hundreds of meditation techniques stemmingfrom a wide variety of sources. Usually considered as part of the spiritualtradition of the Indian sub-continent and the far-east, practices of prayerand contemplation exist in Judaism, Christianity and Islam - particularlywithin the gnostic traditions of each faith - which are akin to the Easternmeditations. They all belong to:

"A family of practices that train attentionin order to heighten awareness and bring mental processes under greatervoluntary control. The ultimate aims of these practices are the developmentof deep insight into mental processes, consciousness, identity and reality,and the development of optimal states of psychological well-being and consciousness.However, they can be used for a variety of intermediate aims, such as psychotherapeuticand psychophysiological benefits" (Walsh1983,p.18)

Another useful and simpler definition using attentionalmechanisms (Pribram,1971) as it's basis:

"Meditation is a family of techniques whichhave in common a conscious attempt to focus attention in a nonanalyticalway and an attempt not to dwell on discursive ruminating thought." (Shapiro,1982;p268)

Getting to the crux of why an empirical definitionis so elusive, the renowned physicist Bohm(1980) notes:

"Techniques of meditation can be looked uponas measures (actions ordered by knowledge and reason) which are taken byman to try to reach the immeasurable (ie. a state of mind in which he ceasesto sense a separation between himself and the whole of reality). But clearly,there is a contradiction in such a notion, for the immeasurable is, ifanything, just that which cannot be brought within limits determined byman's logic and reason" (p24)

To begin to make sense of this plethora of practices,and to help understand the positioning of the co-researchers, we can dividemeditation into two major classes (Goleman,1988) The first, ConcentrationMeditation is when awareness is focussed fixedly on a single object- usually to the exclusion of all else.

The second grouping of meditation is Awarenessmeditation - here attention is allowed to dwell simply on what arisesin the mind, flowing with it, following it and allowing it. Rowan (1992)elaborates this division into a four quadrant model - incorporating a triangularmodel of Naranjo & Ornstein(1976) with a developmental model of KenWilber (1983). In this model, the quadrant to which he ascribes the awarenesspractices of Vipassana, Satipattana, mahavipassana he calls "TheFacilitative Way" This best describes the kind of meditation practice whichwas being used in the inquiry: awareness practices of the facilitativeway.

Updated 16 June 99
by Martin Wilks