This article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal here.
This is a good article and I’ll just come right out and say it – using brain imaging technology to assist meditation is nothing short of silly. One of the main benefits of meditation is that we become more aware of and pay more attention to our subjective mental states and experiences. Neuroscientists agree that there is no technology on the face of the earth that can do this and I would suggest there never will be. Relying on a device like this would mean potentially putting oneself in the hands of a computer programmer who may or may not have any meditation experience themselves. As I said – silly or even dangerous.
The brain is incredibly complex and the most expensive advanced technology such as fMRI is still far too crude to give a clear understanding of the intricacies of its function. Even as it improves, there is no technology to measure subjective experience and so far not even any suggestions as to how we might go about doing so.
I recommend that people who are interested in meditation try a few techniques and teachers. When they find a teacher who can convincingly explain WHY the meditation techniques should work and HOW they will effect life both on and off the cushion, then devote some time to what they say and see if it works. Don’t rely on crude technology designed by people who mistake brain function for personal experience.