This is a presentation Rick Heller of the Harvard Humanist Contemplative group gave on secular meditation at the American Humanist Association conference, April 8, 2011.
A summary copy-pasted from the link above:
Does humanist meditation exist — Presentation Transcript
1. Does Humanist Meditation Exist? Presented by Rick Heller Harvard Humanist Contemplative Group
2. Humanist Contemplative Group Established 2009 at Harvard Inspired by Houston Contemplative Have met twice a month since 2009 Now weekly
3. Secular Meditation Derived mostly from Buddhism Stripped of supernatural (rebirth, karma) Exercise to cultivate attention
4. Informed by Stephen Batchelor
5. Meditation Gets Medicalized
6. Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction
7. Why A Part of Humanism? Create community for mutual aid Community service projects provide material support. Group meditation supports emotional health.
8. How does meditation work? Daniel Siegel, The Mindful Brain Jeff Hawkins, On Intelligence Stephen Grossberg, Adaptive Resonance Theory
9. Inhibiting Top-Down Modulation
10. Focus on Present Inner voice produced by top-down on cortex. Source: “How hallucinations may arise from brain mechanisms of learning, attention, and volition,” Stephen Grossberg, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (2000), 6: 583-592 Sensory focus promotes bottom-up over top-down, inhibits inner voice. Silences ruminations that cause suffering
11. Enhances Sense of Wonder Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, U. Michigan psychologists, say nature’s restorative effects due to amplified sensory flow Mindfulness can amplify sensory flow, increase novelty, joy, sense of wonder in everyday life
12. Warnings: Short, 20 min meditations appear safe Long silent retreats may kindle mental illness in vulnerable PTSD flashbacks in tortured Tibetan monks (loss of top-down inhibition?)
13. New Directions Applying mindfulness to the environment When we learn the present is “enough” We can be happy without the hyper-consumption that drives climate change SeeingTheRoses.org”