Analytical meditation is a contemplation technique that seems to have remained largely unexplored in the West. Unlike other forms of reflection, this meditation technique seems to rely more on using logic rather than manifestation or mindfulness. If you are curious to know more about this technique and its benefits, keep reading this article to learn about what is analytical meditation, its benefits, examples of analytical meditation techniques, how meditation and the analytical mind work, examples of analytical meditation exercises, and so much more.
What Is An Analytical Mind?
According to Learningmind.com, an analytical mind is one that uses knowledge, facts, and information to come to a specific conclusion. These methodical and logical thinkers rarely jump to conclusions and only make a decision after looking through all the facts at hand.
An analytical mind always:
- Examines all the evidence at hand.
- Loves to learn and will scour information sources to get every possible bit of data possible.
- Is willing to have an intellectual challenge/debate.
- Skeptical and can only be persuaded to change their standing through evidence and cold hard facts.
In the workforce, such a methodical mind can come in handy as it provides you with highly sought-after skills such as critical thinking, data and information analysis, research, problem-solving, and incredible communication skills. On the downside, however, such a meticulous mind can be prone to perfectionism, a know-it-all attitude, pessimism, overanalyzing, and incessantly scrutinizing and organizing thoughts.
In spite of these behavioral impediments, you do not need to fret because these issues can be solved through mental fortitude and conscious effort. If you are interested in developing an analytical mind or are looking to build up your mental strength against the downsides of such a brain, then analytical meditation maybe for you (2).
What Is Analytical Meditation?
This is a form of contemplation that uses reasoning and probing to help us gain insight into how the mind works, particularly the nature of the way the mind constructs our selves as an entity. In layman’s language, it is a meditation technique that requires the use of pondering thoughts that can influence you to develop a particular pattern of thinking or feeling.
In more than one occasion analytical meditation has been likened to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular psychotherapeutic approach (talk therapy) that helps people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior and emotions (4).
CBT is often used to help people deal with issues such as depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders and severe mental illness. In 2012, a review of 106 studies on the topic revealed that this form of therapy showed great and promising results in dealing with anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders, bulimia, anger control problems, and general stress.
How To Practice Analytical Meditation?
If you want to include this exercise in your daily life, here are some analytical meditation techniques or rather three courses of action to incorporate in your reflection to help you better evaluate your thoughts:
- Reasons why a particular belief is true. Say you are feeling anxious in a social setting because you believe that people are staring at you. Take a step back and examine this thought. Did you actually see anyone look at you, or is your mind telling you that you did? If someone did look at you, was it a simple glance in passing or a staredown?
- Benefits of feeling or thinking in a particular way. If logically, you know that no one was staring at you, talking about you, or doing all the things that your mind is trying to tell you are true, is there any benefit to letting these anxious thoughts win? How will hiding away help save you from a made-up situation?
- The disadvantages of not feeling or thinking in a particular way. What would happen if you let these thoughts win? For the most part, you will most probably end up missing out on a great time with friends and family at whatever event you are missing out on. While you may feel ‘safe’ hiding away, this cannot be better than feeling the love of spending time with loved ones.
Running a never-ending rat race, shoving trauma further and further away, falling into self-harming thought patterns, living life that’s eclipsed by constant anxiety and fear – this is what an average person goes through every day. Not addressing it will only pull you deeper into a downward spiral. BetterMe: Meditation & Sleep app will help you gain a new perspective on life and help you regain that long-lost internal balance!
A Simple Way To Practice Analytical Meditation At Home
Before delving into this form of reflection, make sure that you are comfortable. Wear simple loose and breathable clothes. Once this is done, find a position in the house that most suits you. This could be on the balcony, in the living room with soothing music playing in the background, or in your bedroom with the door closed and curtains drawn to give you a sense of privacy and isolation.
From here, you may choose to either lie down on the floor, on your back, sit upright in a chair, with your legs uncrossed and hands resting on your thighs, or sit on the floor in a crossed-legged position with left hand resting palm up on your lap and right hand resting palm up in your left hand.
- Close your eyes and empty your mind. Slowly filter out any thoughts that may be distracting you from your contemplation or any thoughts that may be agitating you. Try focusing on your breathing instead of these thoughts. Breathe in slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Notice how your body expands with each inhale and how it contracts with every exhale. Take note of how your muscles begin to relax as well.
- Let everything around you slow down, feel peaceful, and keep focusing on your breathing. This is part of practicing mindfulness.
- Once you feel relaxed, direct your mind to the feelings and thoughts that have been bothering you. If you have been dealing with panic attacks, think about this. First of all, observe this feeling of panic without reacting to or questioning it.
- At this point, you may start to feel the signs of a panic attack. If you start getting chills, trembling, experiencing shortness of breath, an increased heart rate or any other symptoms, remind yourself that this is not actually happening at the moment but is a manifestation of other times. Go back to focusing on your breaths and try to get them back on track – slow breaths in and out.
- Once you feel calm, place this panic in a large clear bubble and examine it. Put all of your focus on it and break it up. Ask yourself what makes you panic. Is it the presence of danger or the assumption of it? How does your body feel when you get a panic attack? What images are usually going through your mind at such a time? Are there any voices that constantly come up during this time?
Breaking Up This Sensation Into Several Questions
Breaking up this sensation into several questions helps reduce your fear of it, detach it from your emotions, and enables you to examine all these pieces and understand them better.
- Depending on how much time you allocate to yourself, you may be able to examine just one or all of the questions that come up. If you are a beginner, pace yourself, give yourself two to five minute to do this.
- Once your time is up, keep breathing for about 20 to 30 seconds before opening your eyes and standing up.
Make sure to write down the questions that you came up with and any answers that you may have found during this time. The next time you choose to do some reflection, you can further examine these issues and further break down your panic. Doing such analytical meditation exercises on other emotional factors such as generalized anxiety, fear, social anxiety, anger, obsessive-compulsion, etc., may help you understand, deal with and reduce their negative effects in your life.
What Is The Difference Between Analytical Meditation And Other Meditation Techniques?
The main difference is the ‘focus aspect.’ Here is what we mean: other forms of this exercise, eg chakra, gratitude, loving-kindness, mantra meditation, etc., require you to empty your mind, not hold on to any thoughts and establish a connection to the higher self. On the other hand, analytical meditation requires you to hold on to a thought or feeling and carefully examine it, determining the benefits and cons of thinking or feeling like that.
The only discernible similarity between this and other forms of this exercise is the use of mindfulness meditation. This helps you remain in the present, calming your mind to be rid of agitations and other distractions.
Can We Find Analytical Meditation In Buddhism?
Yes, we can. Analytical meditation Buddhism is often linked to the Dalai Lama, the highest spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism. According to the monk, in this type of reflection, one needs to contemplate on the information accumulated by the mind from various sources and use reasoning to decode and decrypt it.
According to the Dalai Lama, this helps hone a positive state of mind and also alleviates thoughts and emotions that can lead to suffering and dissatisfaction. This then brings about inner change through systematic investigation and analysis thereby leading to optimum and proper use of human intelligence.
For example, if you realize that you are always quick to anger and would like to change, or such issues as war, skirmishes, or fights going on all over the world bother you a lot, take a minute and reflect on the devastating effects of anger (3). We have watched parts of the world burn, bleed and die due to the effects of anger.
In our personal lives, anger can lead to problems such as:
- Triggering your ‘fight or flight’ response, making the body release the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. In case you didn’t know, an imbalance in these hormones can lead to weight gain.
- Increased heart rate which may lead to a heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Digestion problems, such as abdominal pain.
- Increased anxiety
- Skin problems, such as eczema
In relation to our relationships – whether familial, platonic, or romantic, – anger can slowly poison and break these valuable connections. With this is mind, the Dalai Lama suggests that people take a step back and constantly analyze this.
Instead of flying into a blind range every time something annoying happens, take a minute to remind yourself of all the destructive nature of anger. Remember that any actions you take or words you say do not only affect you but those around you as well.
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Analytical Meditation Benefits
Applying analytical meditation in such an instance will:
- Make you cautious about your next steps in that situation.
- Humanize the person or situation that made you mad, making you understand that the person isn’t all bad and that the situation in question may be salvaged.
- Help you navigate the situation without causing harm to your health or ruining relationships, whether new or old.
Constantly doing this could even help you reduce your anger problems. In 2016, researchers conducted a study on 15 novice meditators and 12 practiced meditators to see how their bodies would react to anger. Both groups were asked to relive experiences that made them angry. For the practices meditators showed little to no physical responses to these memories and their blood pressure, breathing and heart rates remained relaxed.
In the novice meditators these thoughts rapidly raised their heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. However, after one session of reflection they became much calmer and their physical responses to the relieved experiences were more relaxed (1). While this study did not use analytical meditation for its experiment it shows that this practice can help reduce anger and thus, this technique could help you deal with these feelings too.
How Do Meditation And The Analytical Mind Work Together?
As we have seen above, those with a highly logical/methodical mindset can find themselves stuck in a look of perfectionism, over analyzation, pessimism, rationalization, a know-it-all attitude, and other such undesirable traits.
However, with meditation, such people can gain clarity and build the mental strength to fight against such behaviours. They are able to develop more positive states of mind that prevent dissatisfaction and suffering from overthinking.
The Bottom Line
Analytical meditation may not be as well known or researched as other forms of this practice but it seems to have made quite the impression on the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhists. If you are a follower of Buddha’s teachings and listen to the Dalai Lama, you could give it a go and see if it adds any value to your life. Remember, even if you are not a Buddhist or a monk, this technique could be helpful to you as it enables you to better understand your emotions and thoughts.
Meditation is the best anxiety-quelling tool out there, so roll out your mat and press the play button.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A single session of meditation reduces of physiological indices of anger in both experienced and novice meditators (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Meditation: Process and effects (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Effects of Meditation, Yoga, and Mindfulness on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in Tertiary Education Students: A Meta-Analysis (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Tibetan Buddhist analytical meditation and monastic debate: a psychological analysis of a reasoning-based meditation practice (2018, researchgate.net)