I recently had an appointment with my therapist, and he mentioned that I should try meditation.  I suffer from anxiety and depression, and I was eager to try something different.

He suggested that for a beginner, listening to guided meditation can be helpful.  I found some things on youtube, and decided to give it a try.  However, I noticed that most of the tracks I listened to talked about "imagining your creator,"  "thinking of heaven," etc.  This got me worried that meditation isn't really good for atheists.  I know that I could do it on my own, but I don't really know how.  I know this may sound silly, but I always think that I'm doing it wrong.

I have read many studies that conclude that meditation does work, and I would love to try it, but now I'm skeptical.  Is meditation really effective?  If so, how would you recommend starting meditation for a complete beginner?  Any good tracks you would recommend that are free of bs?

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I have no idea whether it is effective, but you may want to read Sam Harris' remarks on it.  He studied it for years.  I believe that the indication is that our brains are capable of adapting to different ways of thinking in terms of learning how to do things.  Some things benefit us (learning to drive a car) and other do not (freaking out whenever you go out to eat because you had a bad experience and now you expect bad things to happen).   He lists some books at the bottom of his blog that you can pick up as a beginner. Decide for yourself. 

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-to-meditate/

Meditation is simply a technique. It has nothing to do with religion. The problem is many have had to convey the message in religious terminology so that the masses can understand it. I would look into Zen practices. They are simply meditation practices and there is no idea of a god or higher power or anything like that. My personal favorite is Osho. You can google him and find his videos on youtube. 

The research on meditation is pretty interesting.  MRI studies show that it does induce activity in certain areas of the brain, but on the other hand there appears to be some selection bias in a lot of the studies that use it as a treatment method.

Personally, my first exposure to meditation was in the context of a martial arts class. This might be something to consider, as the physical exercise can help with mild forms of depression also. We used Zen meditation techniques (Zazen), but the practice was completely secular:

Sit down (either kneeling or legs crossed) and close your eyes.  Breathe deeply -- inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.  Focus on your breathing and empty your mind of everything else.  Your first time, it might be helpful to count down from 10 with each breath and start over from the top if you find your mind wandering.  

Once you've mastered the concentration activity above, you can expand the practice to think about a specific question or topic.  Killing the Buddha by Sam Harris might be a stimulating read for you to meditate on. 

 

Any meditation technique that involves M&M's™ has gotta be worth trying.

I second Alejandro's thoughts. Kabat-Zinn is fabulous, scientific, and life-changing. He's recognized the world around for his work. I highly recommend The Mindful Way through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat_Zinn. It comes with an accompanying CD with quite a few mindful meditation and simple stretch/yoga routines that I've found to be very good. My husband and I have been using this for almost a year after a being recommended by my sister who had been using it for quite some time. At the times, we were really struggling with a new learning disorder diagnosis for our son and were searching for ways not only to be free of recurrent bouts of depression, but also ways to be better parents. It has changed our lives- we are healthier, happier, and our parenting skills have definitely increased. Give it a try; I think once you find the right fit for your life and your feelings, you'll find meditation to be beneficial.

Meditation should be a matter of “Be still and know thyself” and never “Be still and know that I am your god” as in the book of psalms.
I have been using it for 30 years. It is not a road to enlightenment, just a relaxation technique which can help you to relax and recharge your batteries during the day. You don’t really need whale sounds or to sit in the lotus position. Just find a quiet spot and be silent for 10 minutes. Read up on breathing techniques. Pay no money to anyone.

Here is another psalm to relax to…… It confuses my Christian friends that I like it but the Atheists always get it….ha.

 

PS the whiole point of Meditation is NOT to think of anything or try to imagine anything....just let it all float away......

interesting YouTube video. 3:20And in sin did my mother conceive meWell, yeah, but what does that have to do with me? :)

I enjoy the sound of stuff like that, Gregorian chant, Buddhist chant, etc. It certainly helps me with the Christian stuff that I do not understand Latin and just listen to the sounds. Is that "getting it"? Otherwise I'm not sure what you mean.

Yes, I think you should try meditation - It doesn't have to be spiritual or religious - I think of it as a physical movement of the body, breathing in a way that relaxes the body and mind.  

Give it a shot and be open minded about it - meditation is not 'woo woo' 

its si effective it takes time i suggest looking in to buddhist meditaion or taoist and find things in them that work for you an they usaly suggest somthin peaceful to lisen or peacful to you to an allow your self to find a state of calm or being to have a clear mind but some poeple are to jittery to give it a real try it takes patience an time but the buddhist or taoist have good suggestion good luck

You just found the wrong meditation videos, period.
Meditation isn't religious at all, in any sense. Meditation is separate, a practice that hones your thoughts, trains you to become aware of your own emotions, and actually very healthy. I've been practicing it for years, and I am an atheist. Tip? Don't use guided videos or music, silence is best. If you must use guided music, for sure don't use anything with words, use the sounds of nature, soothing music, buddhist chantras, stuff like that. :)

I think meditation can be a great way for some to relax. For me, it's like taking a break from the things that bother me and just "existing" for a bit...thus, easing stress/etc. I've honestly gotten similar effects from forcing myself to paint.

I find 30 minutes of quiet works well.  I mean really quiet.  The quiet you find in a quiet room, no fans, no radios, ear plugs inserted.  I like to hear the tinnitus ringing in my ears, that kind of quiet.  If your mind is too active find a mental task that steers you back to your "centre".  I just think "um".  My mental activity is to recite the alphabet beginning to end, end to beginning, beginning and end to middle, middle to either end...in the phonetics/radio usage (alpha, bravo, charlie...). 

Some neck stretches help the unwinding process too.  I find that I sleep better after a day when I've meditated, I'm mellower too.  It's MY time.  It took a long time to convince people I wasn't having a nap.

 

Ralph

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