Thursday, May 9, 2013

Summary of Findings (Green Team): Meditation (2 out of 5 Stars)


Meditation
Green Team
Rating (2 out of 5 Stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the 8 articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst University in May 2013 regarding Meditation specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.

Description:
Meditation is an analytic modifier that involves the attempted regulation of one’s brain processes and thoughts. There are multiple different types of meditation including, but not limited to; basic, focused, and activity-oriented. Basic involves sitting quietly and emptying the mind of all thoughts. Focused meditation focuses the mind on an object or sound in an attempt to regulate regulate thoughts. Activity oriented can be anything from repetitive motions whereby the participant does particular gestures multiple times to simplify their thought processes to physical activity such as yoga that induces mindfulness into particular moves and actions.

Meditation relates to the intelligence field because many jobs within the intelligence field are high-stress and anything to mitigating this high stress is useful.  However, because meditation is not universally accepted by everyone to reduce stress, it would only be marginally useful as a blanket technique for the intelligence community.

Strengths:
  • Can reduce stress, improve multitasking, and improve concentration
  • Can creative mindfulness that results in general improved positivity towards life

Weaknesses:
  • Likely requires repetition and frequent implementation to become effective
  • Requires practitioners to be receptive of the approach
  • Difficulties with quantifying any benefits (ie: how effective meditation can be)

How-To:
  1. Research different techniques of meditation and select the one you feel is most comfortable (ex.: basic meditation, activity-oriented meditation, etc.)
  2. Find a place where you are comfortable to meditate
  3. Carry out your chosen meditative technique

*For best results, we suggest continuing meditation several times before judging whether it is effective or not.


Personal Application of Technique:
Individuals in the class were asked to take 15 minutes and participate in some form of meditation.  They were also asked to write a few sentences prior to meditating and immediately following meditation as a personal reflection of how they felt about the meditation.  The group then discussed their personal application of meditation, their individual response, as well as the potential effectiveness of the technique for the intelligence community.  

A number of meditation approaches were explored, including basic meditation, mindfulness techniques, activity oriented techniques, and focused meditation. The ensuing discussion brought up the issue of repetition and that fact that it is a technique that needs to be practiced over time in order to start to become effective.  Additionally, the purpose of meditation was discussed -- a stress reduction technique, to increase productivity, as a way to control one’s mind.

In regards to an intelligence application, this analytic modifier is something that has shown outcomes in stress reduction, blood pressure reduction, as well as an increase in productivity, and relationships in the workplace.  The application of meditation has the potential to modify the analyst rather than the tools used by the analyst.

Rating:  2 of 5 ˜˜˜˜Stars

For Further Information:
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): http://nccam.nih.gov/

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