Previously it was common to make fun of people who meditate. “Oh, who knows which sect will be that crazy!”, it was a joke that was heard often. It is not so in the third millennium, and even the most negative to close your eyes and sit still for a long moment to observe your breath, dare to denigrate meditation. The academic world is supported by the positive results of hundreds of studies on the subject; the health agencies recommend it; the companies promote between their employees; the celebrities do it…
If the benefits of meditation are extraordinary, and if such an exercise improves physical health, reduces anxiety and stress, control depression, reduce addictions, help with insomnia… why do so few people meditate? Because the majority of reluctant to look to meditation as a boring waste of time. Grave mistake this for those of you who may expect to have fun while you meditate, as the routines of practice are not an end or goal of anything; 45-50 minutes of silence, several times a week, are only a medium. What a means of what or for what? Let’s see it.
The reluctant, in general, share the same apology to get the body to meditation, and almost all are declared incapable of remaining silent and immobile for even five minutes. These same individuals, however, rarely recognize the volatility standing of your own head and, even less, difficulty to concentrate, not only when they try to meditate but also in many everyday tasks.
This deficit in the ability to be attentive is just what opens the door for distractions invade the mind of the antimeditador and become a limitless career of wandering. Digressions and detours are mentally of all types: the problem of the moment in the house, the accounts payable, the match on Sunday, the scoundrel politician who is stealing the silver…
What are the distracters more harmful? The intense desires (covetousness lust, addictions, ambitions compulsive), aversion (dislike, phobias, hatreds, obsessive) and the biased opinions (political, religious, racial). The inability to sit down to meditate, recognized by many people, is not, therefore, the issue to be resolved.
The real problem lies in the difficulty of many people to hold fixed attention, be in the flow of air through the nose while meditating, or in the interaction of a few activities on the run or from several points of view to consider while you are working. Very few are those who accept such a weakness. Consequently, the more agitated the mind, the greater will be the benefit of the meditation and more urgent the ‘treatment’ for lack of concentration.
Athletes of all disciplines, in general, train with intensity, waiting to become excellent athletes; this address is just normal and makes a lot of sense. The same does not happen, must not happen, with the practitioners of meditation. None of them are interested in becoming a supermeditador; not even the tibetan monks with ten thousand hours of ‘flight’. (They look for other experiences that are not of our interest now).
Meditation, by itself, is thus not a goal. We meditate to train the mind in stillness and in silence, and to remain attentive for long periods. There are all the advantages of the practice. What is the inducement most important? Precisely, the strengthening of the faculty of attention in the routine life. The other benefits will come in addition.
Author of ‘Toward the Buddha from the West’