[An interpretation of Vulcan meditation from a human point of view.
Adapted from T’Heya’s original work, _FalCUikal Kya’shin_.]
In any system of meditation, one can categorize the techniques endlessly.
One could divide them into active, passive, and waking, or make
distinctions between mental, emotional, and physical meditations. Active
meditation techniques require you to focus on some object to the
exclusion of all else – like a meditating on a symbol, a set of words or
an image. A passive meditation involves stilling the mind so that the
train of thoughts which occupy our consciousness so pervasively stop. The
surrounding world fades from immediate awareness. The bodies noises and
impulses cease to grab our attention, until finally the mind holds “no-
thing”. Waking meditations consist of meditations one practices
continuously. Like the exercises in mindfulness one finds in Buddhism.
Mental meditations have the purpose of developing the intellect. One
might consider doing a logic puzzle or studying a foreign language a
mental meditation, albeit a simple one. Emotional meditations explore the
breadth and flavor of our emotions: for one cannot hope to control a
thing without first understanding it. Physical meditations consist of
various strenuous exercises done in a particularly mindful manner.
Vulcans use meditation for arie’mnu (mastery of passion and emotion), and
training the mind for complex uses of the intellect. So the later method
of categorization seems most suited to our exploration of the subject.
All Classification aside, the most important thing about meditation
remains that one does it – regularly and mindfully. Intermittent
meditation practices lead to intermittent results.
The goal of Vulcan meditation ultimately involves the various sub-goals
of: increased concentration and attention, the sharpening of perception,
control over one’s train of thought, making unconscious processes
accessible to the waking mind, and many others. In this article you will
find neither an exhaustive nor definitive list. This one considers such
an effort futile, for no one true path exists to define kahr-y-tan (the
Way of the Vulcan). Each clan has it’s own variations, and Vulcan’s
continuously develop new methods.
This one will only attempt an examination of *some* Vulcan meditation
techniques, a few of the basic ones. All of which most humans can
actually perform and benefit from. Below, a list of the meditations
1. Cycles of 10 Breathing Meditation
2. Controlling the flow of Thought
3. A Mindfulness Meditation
4. A Method of Emotional Control
The first two meditations one generally finds, in one form or another, as
the basics of virtually every meditation system in the Federation – at
least ones practiced by hominoids. The second two represent a couple of
the more intermediate meditations Vulcans practice.
Cycles of 10 Breathing Meditation
The most basic of all meditations consists of observing one’s train of
thoughts. Before one can control a thing, one must become aware of a
thing. So one seeks to distinguish between the consciousness and what
occupies it. Meditations of this type come in many forms. One of the most
basic is the cycles of 10 breathing meditation. This one finds this the
most useful beginner’s meditation.
One simply sits in a comfortable position (but not too comfortable you do
not wish to sleep), and breaths in and out at a normal pace, and that
constitutes a count of one. Continue to count until you reach 10 sets of
breathing in and breathing out. Then start the next set as one. If you
lose count, or find yourself counting 11 or 12, simply start again with
one and try to stop at 10 during the next cycle.
I would suggest you try to do this for at least five minutes to start.
Continue for the whole five minutes, even if you lose count. For normal
human breathing this should consist of about 11 to 13 cycles of 10. Once
you can easily do each cycle without flaw, add more cycles. You may add
as many as you wish, but if you find yourself easily finishing 75 or more
cycles you may wish to consider moving on to a more difficult exercise.
When you start this you may find your mind a raging torrent of unruly
thoughts, or you may find yourself worrying about the days events. When
this happens simply acknowledge you have lost track and begin again. In
doing this you will become aware of what fills your mind during your
Controlling the flow of Thought
In this meditation, you attempt to direct the stream of thoughts either
towards some object or away from it. You may chose either to begin, but
by doing both at different times you will gain more from it. In directing
your thoughts toward some object, you pick a subject and strive to direct
your attention to it and to keep your attention from straying onto a
For example, you may sit and study the wall across from you. Look at the
wall, observe the texture of the wall, think of the materials the wall
consists of, examine the many shades of color, focus your attention on
the wall. When you stray off into another subject, once you become aware
of it, simply turn your attention back to the wall. Again, at first
attempt 5 minutes and gradually increase the time as you find the
In order to turn your thoughts away from a subject, you simply focus your
attention on another subject, or group of subjects. The fascinating thing
about this version of the meditation – once you try to command your mind
to ignore a subject, the more your mind will try to focus on it. Pain
seems like good subject for this meditation, which gives a glimpse of the
meditations to come. Of course, one can chose any subject.
Unless you have a very limber body try this: sit on the ground with your
legs straight out in front of you. Lean over your legs, stretch out your
arms and try to grasp your feet around their bottoms. Don’t fret if you
cannot reach that far, simply let the hands grasp the legs as far up as
they can. At the point where you feel a pain, in the back of your legs,
almost too intense to endure, stop there and grasp.
Stay in that position, and begin the cycles of 10 breathing meditation.
Try at first for 30 seconds. If you cannot last 30 seconds you may have
stretched too far. Pain does serve a useful function, it warns the body
of impending damage, do not stretch too far, too fast. If you easily last
30 seconds you have not stretched far enough. If you cannot feel any pain
when you grasp your feet, you probably do yoga or something similar –
find a painful position which will not damage you.
While sitting this way, turn your thoughts toward some subject. Pick the
subject of the prior meditation if you wish. Simply focus on something
other than the pain. If you find you can do this for 20 or more minutes
consider moving on to the next meditation.
A Mindfulness Meditation
In this meditation you will perform the meditation periodically
throughout your day. You may do this as you think of it, or at
predetermined times. Pick a phrase which has significance to you. At
the time periods you have decided on, say this phrase. Below I included
several I use regularly:
“No ones mouth is big enough to utter the whole thing”
“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”
(I repeat this koan, mainly because I still don’t understand it).
“Oh, Rob? Yes, Rob? Relax, Rob. Yes, Rob.”
Generally, I find one gets the most benefit out of this exercise if you
stick to a predetermined schedule. An alarm clock helps at first, but can
disrupt others around you if you happen to do this during your work
hours. I usually pick to do the exercise every hour.
This meditation one uses to develop, not only a mindfulness about what
you do, but also of learning to program your internal clock. This
meditation helps one internalize a fixed rate of time flow (if
you use the predetermined time variant).
An intermediate method of controlling emotion involves neutralizing an
emotion by evoking it’s opposite. It consists of controlling one’s
breathing, combined with visualization and sometimes the use of
special gestures. When one emotes, one’s breathing, posture, facial
expression and musculature all follow fairly predictable patterns.
Actors use this knowledge to evoke specific emotions and enhance their
performance. We can use this knowledge to control the reactions from
inappropriate emotional response. This technique will not eliminate
emotion all together. At first, one still feels the emotion, but it no
longer has control over the body and one’s actions. Later in the
practice, one can dispel an emotion with just a gesture or thought.
One begins to control emotional reactions in this way by breathing in a
certain manner, depending on the reaction you wish to control, while
evoking appropriate memories of past emotion, and possibly the forming of
a special symbol with the hands. The use of a hand gesture allow one to
associate it with the emotional state one wishes to evoke via classical
conditioning. After long practice, while using this method in regular
meditation, the desired reaction will become so associated with the
forming of the symbol with the hands, that doing that alone will bring
about the desired reaction. In the beginning one should continue the
breathing cycle until the emotional reactions cease.
When one feels excited, nervous, or any other highly discordant emotional
state, breath thusly: deeply inhale to the count of 8 heart beats, then
without pause exhale fully to the count of 8 heart beats. While
breathing in this manner call to mind past events when you have felt in
control of yourself, full of strength and purpose.
You may form the hand symbol for this and the following breathing
1. Place your hands together, palm to palm.
2. Next slightly separate them, while still allowing all the finger
tips to touch.
3. Let the pinkie finger and thumb, of the left hand, reach toward
each other and touch, to form a ring.
4. Then, let the pinkie finger and thumb of the right hand reach thru
the ring formed by your left to touch, forming another ring.
5. You should now have two interlocking rings formed by the pinkie
finger and thumb of each hand.
When feeling sorrowful, in pain, obsessive or any rigid/unyielding
emotional state, breath in this manner: inhale slowly and deeply for a
count of 8 heart beats, pause for 3 heart beats, then quickly exhale
fully, then pause 3 heart beats before inhaling again. Concurrently
bring into mind, those events when one’s actions truly flowed with the
nature of c’thia; your response always seemed appropriate, and you always
felt a calm sensitivity to events around you. Form a hand symbol using
the third finger and thumb similar to the symbol above.
When feeling easily manipulated, timid, fearful, tired or any inactive,
withdrawing emotion, breath like this: quickly and deeply inhale, and
without pausing quickly and fully exhale. As above, while breathing you
must focus your mind on events when you felt powerful, full of energy,
active, decisive. Form the hand symbol with the second finger and the
When feeling selfish, jealous, patronizing, clutching or any narcissistic
emotion, breath in this way: deeply and quickly inhale, then pause for 3
heart beats, next slowly fully exhale to a count of 10 heart beats, and
pause 3 heart beats before beginning again. Concentrate on events where
you felt benevolent, accepting, and truly realized the value of t’triahve
(the concept of IDIC). Form the hand symbol with the index finger and
As a Vulcan grows and learns one uses more advanced meditations to
control the body, emotions and intellect. For example: to gain a more
advanced control over the body a Vulcan may learn to move each toe on the
foot, independently of the others. A more advanced meditation over ones
emotions could involve viewing images and sounds of violence, and war and
remaining unmoved by it. Or just as useful, viewing images and sounds of
love and tenderness and remaining unmoved by it.
The intellect receives constant training in Vulcans almost from the
moment of birth. Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, all of the
sciences provide a grounding in the scientific method and measuring.
Even for a Vulcan brain, this amount of information could get staggering.
So to help them cope, Vulcans regularly practice meditations to help
them program their brain more efficiently. Evolution produces brain
use algorithms which while work, may not work as effectively as they
could. So Vulcans practice advanced meditations which help them
register the passing of time, rapid calculation, maintaining a constant
spacial reference (which involves visual distance measuring), and
visualizing complex problems in detail.
One can find more information about Vulcan meditation practices by
going to your public computer library doing a search. On earth one may
find similar practices within Buddhism, specifically in Zen, Tendai, and
Tibetan Buddhism, also in Hinduism, Sikh and Christian monasticism.
I only mention the Zen, Tendai and Tibetan Buddhism schools, because
I have no familarity with any of the others.
Copyright 1997, by Robert L. Zook II, all rights reserved. Permission
is granted for the reproduction of this essay in any medium, as long as
no fee is charged and this notice is included unchanged.