Meditation, ritual, and pain

Welcome to our new format of news, which is more of a news round-up, often with links to several stories in one post.

The Times of India has a couple of stories about meditation. One is based on an article by University of North Carolina (Charlotte) psychologists Fadel Zeidan, Nakia S. Gordon, Junaid Merchant and Paula Goolkasian, in the current issue of The Journal of Pain. The study found that relatively short and simple mindfulness meditation training — one hour of training spread out over a three day period — can have a significant positive effect on pain management.

The other Times of India article, Sit still, breathe!, reviews a number of meditation techniques, from “Osho’s gibberish” (their term, not mine), to a Hawaiian (who knew!) form of meditation called Ho’oponopono. It’s a strange selection of techniques that they review: no Vipassana, no lovingkindness meditation, no Tibetan visualization — it’s a totally random and lopsided selection.

On a more somber note, the LA Times reports that a memorial wall and meditation garden has been dedicated to Chinese laborers and others whose forgotten graves were excavated during Metro construction. Coming to this resolution seems to have been difficult, and has involved what the LA Times described as “tense negotiations” with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Los Angeles County. Gordon Hom, the president of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, said the ceremony provided closure on painful reminders of a time when Chinese Americans faced discrimination.

There was also tension within the Chinese community, with younger members tending to believe that pottery, coins, etc, disinterred along with the bodies were valuable cultural artifacts that should be preserved, while older members thought they should be re-interred along with the bodies, to respect tradition. Hopefully these tensions will subside, now that the ceremony has been performed. While meditation can heal physical pain, community ritual can be a powerful way of healing emotional scars.

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