I read this article today:
Seems to be an argument on how meditation/mindfulness is bad for people; apparently it is stopping people from thinking. Which in turn stops them going outside living there lives & interacting with other people, which stops them understanding different points of view. The man in this article (who was also promoting his new book,) believes we should move away from the era of self discovery. (At least I think that’s what he was trying to argue.)
It is my opinion that this person misunderstands what meditation is. It isn’t about stopping thinking. Mindfulness is a tool we use to help us be present in the here & now & get the focus needed to gain insight. It is a practise that helps people to see the truth of something or a situation which may be troubling them. It can also be used as a way to deal with uncontrollable thoughts which can create inner suffering in many people. It can help these people gain insights into their behaviour & thought processes & help to set them free from that which is causing them suffering.
One thing I will say that p#sses me off though. I don’t like this corporate commercial invasion of mindfulness. That isn’t what it is about either.
You don’t have to believe in God to practise mindfulness/meditation, or believe in anything spiritual; but the goal of it isn’t to improve your output at work & to reach your full potential as a robot. It is about setting your mind free.
It isn’t about stopping thinking, at least it isn’t supposed to be. Thinking is fine, it is part of being human to think. The goal of meditation/mindfulness isn’t to turn you into a mindless detached emotionless being who stares blankly at the world around them, that is a misconception.
Meditation helps you be more in charge of your head. You will still think, only that thinking will be clearer. It improves concentration, & makes the mind sharper. It helps you gain insight into yourself, others & the world around you.
The Buddha didn’t spend his whole life sat under a tree meditating, when he got enlightened & saw the true nature of reality, he got up & tried to help others see that too. He didn’t stop thinking. He was in control of his thinking. He still conversed with others, made friends & enjoyed the simple pleasures of life.
The goal of meditation is to help you see that you are alive, to set you free, to gain insight into the true nature of things & take charge of your mind.
I believe we all walk the path in different ways. Which is great, cause having different flavours makes a meal more enjoyable, if a meal was just one flavour, it would be dull. Difference is what makes life interesting.
Before I got ill & developed mobility problems, I had practised Tai Chi & Bagua Chuan for roughly ten years. I had reached an intermediate level & had learnt a lot of different forms; even though physically now I can’t do it as well anymore, one thing that stuck with me, was the idea of taking your time, the mindset of only doing what you can manage to do & being patient. There is no great hurry to learn it all in a single day. It takes time. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
It helps to know this because the huge mountain of gaining control of your head can seem daunting. It can put people off, or make them give up after only a few attempts. It helps to look at it differently. To see it as a path & each session no matter how long it is for, as a footstep on that path, all you have to do is just walk the path & as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other you will reach your destination. Don’t worry about how long it takes. Just accept yourself & walk at a pace which suits you. If you do this the mountain seems less daunting & it’s easier to keep going.
I’ve read how some people say you should meditate for hours on end, 6 hours or more a day. If that works for someone, that’s fine; but that idea may be too hardcore for many of us.
I believe people should just do what they feel comfortable doing. If it’s just 5 – 10 minutes at first, that’s fine, you just do that till you feel like you want to do it for longer. I started with just 5 minutes, but found myself after a couple of weeks or so wanting to do it for longer, so increased to 15 minutes a day, didn’t force myself, just wanted to do it for longer. I eventually got up to 30 – 60 minutes & then I stopped bothering to keep track, cause it didn’t matter to me anymore. I just do it now for as long as feels comfortable/natural for me.
No matter how long you meditate for, everytime you regain focus it is a victory. Each of those victories strengthens your inner muscle.
For some people it will happen slowly & gradually over time, & for others it will happen quickly. But either way it doesn’t matter, it’s the same path with the same destination. Some people like running/jogging to get there, others like to walk. There’s no hurry, it’s not a race, people should just go at their own pace & do what feels right to them.
Not everyone finds enlightenment by sitting under a tree & meditating for days/weeks/months on end. There are other ways to be mindful, to practise insight meditation. You can be mindful at anytime in your life, doing any activity.
Think I’m waffling a bit now & losing the thread of what I’m saying – time for bed…