Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sara Weber, party pooper*

I just reread the meditation article I posted yesterday. An extract appears below. I'm always suspicious, when I read things like meditation is good for everybody except the mentally unstable, that the people pushing this opinion are trying to keep schizophrenia under the paid protection of psychiatry. Before I wised up, I used to ask the opinion of Chris's psychiatrists as to different ideas that I would like to try with him, e.g. sound therapy, assemblage point shifts, or even vitamins for crying out loud, and what do you know, they were not in favor of him attempting these things. These things, after all, are not under their control. These kind of weird things, after all, might destabilize him. Well, Chris has tried these weird things, and they have had the opposite effect -- they have integrated him.

But Sara Weber, the chairwoman of the Contemplative Studies Project of New York University’s postdoctoral program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, expressed some skepticism.

“Believe me, it’s a great relaxation and everyone needs to relax, and probably relaxing makes everyone feel better and promotes some of those things,” Dr. Weber said. “And some people can deal with what arises just by calming down. But other people who have been through trauma disassociate and go into a deadened space where they don’t feel. So what happens if that breaks down in the middle of one of those bliss sessions?”
In her experience, Dr. Weber said, the technique could even have adverse side effects. “Some people report falling apart,” she said. “They can have very intense and bad emotional experiences.

You might also like a real life example of this attitude.

I'm getting sensitive about being "a square." Tell me that the word "party pooper" isn't hopelessly out-of-date. Please? I've never heard of Russell Brand, the comedian snuggling up to David Lynch in yesterday's photo. I have heard of David Lynch, though. He's more my age. The other night I asked my middle son Alex not to drive the car all over "Hell's half acre." He broke up laughing.


  1. What you describe here and in the linked post are the reasons I don't see a psychiatrist - after meeting with no less than ten, and having all of them insist I couldn't get well without meds, and that my "alternative treatments" were potentially dangerous, I saw no point. Having to defend myself against them just made me feel frantic and hopeless. And with the help of a supportive and knowledgeable therapist, and a thorough holistic regimen, here I am a year later proving them all wrong! :)

    Sadly, it is about money and control. They want to suppress the experiences of the "mentally ill" and continue the myth that if we aren't "normal" then we're clearly sick. How else can they keep the psychiatry/pharma boat afloat?

    Thankfully, more of us are sharing our voices and sending the message loud and clear that there are other options. Your son is beyond lucky to have you for a mom, just as you are beyond lucky to have him for a son. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences - it encourages me on my own path...which sometimes feels all too lonely!

    (I'm a 30-something and I say party pooper AND Hell's half acre. What will my two-year-old think when he's a teen??) :)

  2. Rossa,

    The classic definition of "insanity" is to keep doing what you're doing, and expect different results.

    Which is precisely why the failed paradigm of conventional psychiatric care (aka, mind-altering drugs for the long-term) is insane!

    At the risk of taking (what can be very complicated situations) and making things simple, I say this:

    What works best is what works best.
    Whatever that is for each individual.

    Call me "simple."
    I've been called worse.

    Duane Sherry, M.S.

  3. I've never thought of meditation as being relaxing or that being it's purpose...at least not for as long as I've been practicing seriously...it's a bit of a misunderstanding about meditation as far as I can tell...it can at times be relaxing but it's by no means the purpose in and of itself...perhaps for some...

    this is some good commentary that makes more sense to me...



    I have nothing for or against TM, apart from being basically pro-anything that promotes synchronizaton of mind and body. From what I read, TM seems to be a very cool (as in dispassionate) path. For some people, this could be just right.

    I am not one of them. What drew me to my lineage, Shambhala Buddhism, was its heat.There was no mention of calming down. It places emphasis on the value of raging emotions and on meditation as a way to meet them fully and shamelessly. This path could teach me to work with feelings as a source of intelligence rather than embarrassment. The counsel was to turn toward my feelings, open to them, experience their vividness, and, the kicker: to do so without agenda, without trying to make them go away, harvest them for value, or turn them into magical messages. Instead, I could trust my own experience as the perfect teacher, finally come home. I don’t find mention of this in most descriptions of meditation, of what happens when you appreciate the rich, fertile, uncomfortable, stinky, joyful brilliance of emotion.

    My experience of meditation practice has nothing to do with smoothness and everything to do with becoming basically raw. It has less to do with competence than genuineness. And when it comes to bliss, well, I am more uncertain than ever about what this word even means.

    Instead, meditation opens my heart. In doing so, I discover the real reason for my practice which is the cultivation of compassion in all its forms. I meditate first for myself to create some kind of balance and discipline and then, in a most important evolution, to be of benefit to others: to open my heart to this world in order to be genuinely helpful. Meditation wakes you up to your own and others’ truths and in this wakefulness, you find both compassion and joy.

    You don't often see these described as benefits. As mentioned, like most, this article alluded to health benefits and how it can be a stepping-stone to success or the mysterious “bliss.” Meditation is not a practice of happiness per se, but by helping you discover your own path to compassionate action (or inaction as the case may be), it creates it anyway.

    for me meditation is about embracing what is...sometimes what is is anything but calm and cool...

  4. Natali said:
    (I'm a 30-something and I say party pooper AND Hell's half acre. What will my two-year-old think when he's a teen??)

    Rossa said:
    He'll think you're "a square." Seriously though, you are way more self-assured than I was. I only needed one psychiatrist to tell me my son needed to be on drugs (legal ones) and I caved.

  5. Gianna,
    Thanks for the clarification of what meditation is and isn't. At the end of Susan Piver's article she adds:

    And of course the article had the requisite poo-pooer, in this case one Dr. Sara Weber, the chairwoman of the Contemplative Studies Project of New York University’s postdoctoral program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis who said, “Some people report falling apart. They can have very intense and bad emotional experiences.” I thought, well, yes. Of course. I am one of those people. But I thought that was the good part.

    I'm getting very excited about the benefits of regular meditation.

  6. woops...I'm sorry I didn't get that part...glad you found it...EXACTLY...

    life is risky...so is meditation!

    and yeah, sometimes we need to be careful and have additional supports about us, but for me meeting the emotions "fully and shamelessly" is absolutely necessary.

  7. Rossa - I agree wholeheartedly with Gianna. After now practicing daily for the last year, the one thing it always does is ground me and give me a foundation to embrace life and process what is at the root of my "bipolar"...the good, bad, and the ugly. Sometimes it is relaxing, but more often, it just builds upon my increasing resilience. Even in the beginning, when I felt like I must be doing it wrong, because it felt like "nothing" was happening, it still took the edge off things and made me more able to take the uncertainty of what each day would bring.

    I'm actually more stubborn than self-assured - and it served me very well on this front! (And I look forward to my little guy calling me "a square.") :)

  8. Hi...I have some dissociation and psychosis problems, and I tried meditating, and sometimes it makes me feel good, other times really depressed and empty...


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