The Hidden Danger of Meditation
Did I catch your attention? Ok, good.
You may have heard somewhere that meditation is good for you. In fact, more and more research is suggesting that meditation can reduce stress, improve cognition, and even combat physical illness. While these studies are all valid, I am here to play the devil’s advocate.
Please note, if you don’t already know me, I am an avid meditator and have been for the last decade. I meditate ‘A-D-E-D’ (all day every day). For real. This article is for those of you who believe that meditation is the way to peace, yet peace is not happening. This is for you who rely on meditation as your primary source for creating something amazing in your life and are not experiencing any type of lasting positive transformation.
Throughout my yoga journey, I have learned quite a bit about the potentially life-enhancing side effects of becoming more aware and mindful. Actually, I blame meditation for molding me into who I am today. However, there was a time when I literally believed that meditation would solve all my problems. If I were feeling ‘stuck’ in life, I would sit with my eyes closed and witness sensations in my body and allow all of my thoughts to flow by like clouds in a clear blue sky. These methods are highly effective for many people in certain circumstances, especially those new to meditation.
This is for those of you who are not new to meditation or for those of you who are unsure how to incorporate it into your life and literally have it work for you. Meditation can absolutely offer us a vacation from the constant roller coaster or thoughts otherwise known as the ‘monkey mind’. Do you worry about events that either have already passed or have not happened yet? Do you anticipate the future? Do you live with regret, guilt, judgment of self or others, or an overall feeling of stress and anxiety? Of course these feelings come and go, but if you feel you are a victim of these inevitable mental waves, then meditation will undoubtedly offer you a break from this chronic cycle. But unfortunately, vacation is temporary. You will eventually have to come back home to yourself.
The danger of meditation arises when we see meditation as something separate from ‘normal life’. At first, it is good to meditate in a seated posture with eyes closed as is so often depicted in texts and images. Even the Buddha is infamously known for sitting under the Bodhi tree at the very moment he became enlightened. It was very significant and extremely sacred. His years of seated meditation eventually led him to enlightenment. He was sitting under the tree at that moment. The he became enlightened. In my opinion, Buddha’s enlightenment was something like an ‘AHA‘ moment when he realized he did not have to sit under the tree any longer. He did not have to separate his meditation from his life.
In Buddhist meditation teacher Jack Kornfield’s best-selling book The Wise Heart, Kornfield describes his many years in silent meditation in Thailand, Burma and India. He eventually returned to America and started a family and a business. He was trying desperately to maintain his monkhood, such as wearing special robes and keeping a shaved head… in New York City. Eventually, he let go of needing to separate meditation life from ‘real life’ and allowed the tools he received during his years of meditation to absorb and literally become his waking reality. No more separation.
Another component of this interesting perspective is the idea of utilizing the immense power of our minds. For years, when I was experiencing times of personal turmoil and confusion, I would resort to silent ‘vipassana’ style meditation. While this gave me a break from my mind, I was not able to fully harness my potential. Our minds create our reality. By learning how to focus my mind on a desired outcome, I have now learned how to take appropriate action towards my ultimate intentions and make them real in my life. It’s seriously almost magic. Actually, it is magic.
So instead of neglecting our minds or looking to take a vacation from them, why not use them to create powerful goals and then structure action steps in order to reach them? When we become the master of our own minds, the temptation of meditation will seem less and less appealing. Because we have befriended our brain. What if you no longer feel you need a vacation? What if there is nothing to escape?
So this article is less about pushing away meditation but becoming more aware of how we can fully integrate all that we are so meditation becomes a natural part of life. When we feel in control of our minds, focus on that which inspires and uplifts us, take necessary action towards our dreams, then all of life will take on a positive spin. When we are self-aware, it does not matter whether we are sitting in a lotus posture, on a yoga mat, near the Himalayas, in our car, at a restaurant, or doing the laundry. Meditation is now.