An often repeated question raised during various meetings on meditation with people is: why should I meditate? My simple response is: if you are happy the way you are in this world, don’t meditate. Some baffled by the response, shy away. Others drift to another question: what are the benefits of meditation? My answer differs most times this question is asked depending on my evaluation about the questioner -his/her attitude, intention, age, peculiar life circumstances, curiosity level, sincerity,etc. But about whom I have no cue I state a matter – of – fact answer. I tell them that the minimum benefit of meditation is that you grow peaceful and begin to handle life situations in a steadier way. For most young and middle aged people the words ‘peaceful’ and ‘steady’ are synonyms of ‘old age’. So they nod an empty ‘Hmm’ and brush the idea of meditating aside while for the inquisitive ones the questioning So what meditation essentially does?
Meditation at the very first decelerates the pace of your life by decelerating the speed of your mind. A fast paced reckless life is like a rolling stone from a mountain which gathers no moss. Or it is like a fast growing weed that bears no fruit. Ambitious people cringe at the idea of slowing down. For them, to slow down means wastage of time and a sign of low motivation. But an intelligent person knows that it is not speed but rather steadiness which is the soil for creativity. Great ideas and insights are born of steadiness alone. Also to take sensible decisions for long term benefits and sustained grown (personal and professional), steadiness is a must trait. Meditation in fact curbs ambition and therefore most ambitious people who are reluctant to change find it extremely difficult to meditate. It is true that meditation checks ambition but at the same time it bestows you with the feeling of fulfillment.
Fulfillment is the feeling of being at ease with oneself. It is a deep sense of contentment. This occurs only when your experience (of whatsoever you are experiencing) is complete. It is feeling the experience in close proximity with oneself. When the experience is complete the desire for ‘more’ reduces and eventually may vanish. For example, a closely experienced journey to a single or a couple of destinations will give you deeper contentment rather than a careless inattentive world tour. The focus is on being attentive to whatever we are doing. Simplifying further you will feel more fulfilled if you ate your food being closely attentive to it. The appetite for more is automatically curtailed. Ambition and its invariable speed leave each experience incomplete and consequently generate the desire for more.
Thus, ambition keeps recycling itself endlessly amounting to dissatisfaction, discontent and disappointment. The second thing meditation does to you is that it makes you prone to introspection. Most of us are interested in inspecting rather than introspecting. We like supervising others – their drawbacks, their limitations. Inspecting is our tendency because it is guided by the pleasure of our senses. We see, hear and talk about other people’s shortcomings and inefficiencies and derive pleasure out of it.
On the other hand, introspection requires effort to carefully read our own responses, actions, utterances, thoughts etc. It is like piercing one self and hence it is scary. It requires great deal of honesty and patience with oneself to be able to introspect. Meditation for the first time gives you the pace and space within to introspect. It allows you to be watchful of thinking what you are thinking and to become alert of doing what you are doing. Meditation allows you to reconsider and repair your responses. An introspection which is rooted in meditation allows the meditator to inspect his/her shortcomings in an objective way so as to be able to alter them in practice in the outside world. A meditative introspection alone can avoid the guilt trip which people generally go through when they attempt introspecting. Meditation gives you the skill of objective impartial introspection.
The least that can be said about the third and subsequent effect of meditation is that it transforms you. The degree of transformation depends on the degree of your sincerity of implementation. We learn about ourselves and about the world around us with a new insight. We try to implement these higher insights in our day today life. Meditation is not a delimited theory whose advantages and disadvantages can be enumerated. It is an endless journey. It is a fathomless dive. In a way meditation is a movement from ambition to Deceleration to Introspection to Transformation. If you want to transform your life you have to take the first step to change. If one keeps weighing the losses and gains in one’s mind endlessly one will never move from an unsatisfactory static state. In order to discover an unknown land one has to leave the shore and start sailing and not merely imagine of the ‘unknown’ in terms of the ‘known’. Start sailing.Meditate.
Nilesh P Megnani is a professor of philosophy who teaches not just the academics of his subject but the purpose of it to his students. He writes whenever he feel inspired and believes life is workable hypothesis and love, the elusive potion that might transform humanity Connect with on firstname.lastname@example.org