Meditation Isn’t An Escape From Life, It’s An Encounter With It.
A less solemn approach to meditation.
Meditation is often described as the art of doing nothing. I’ve even described it that way myself. But thinking about it this way can be misleading. It’s tempting to think of doing nothing as collapsing into a catatonic heap. As zoning out. Or switching off. Or relaxing. Meditation isn’t any of these things.
The reason it’s tempting to think in this way is that it’s hard to imagine a state where we’re not busy thinking and worrying and judging ourselves which isn’t sleep. In normal life, sleep is the only reprieve we get from all of that mental chatter, so it’s natural to associate meditation with a kind of disengagement from ourselves.
But when this happens, meditation becomes lifeless and serious. It becomes solemn and self-conscious. It becomes something totally separate from everyday life. Or worse, the practitioner tries to maintain this new, solemn attitude in their everyday life. They take on a character which is slow and detached and inflexible because that’s what they’ve been practising when they sit in meditation.
Meditation is a meeting with yourself. It’s a few minutes with an old, dear friend who most of us don’t spend nearly enough time with. The joy of that meeting can then permeate our lives. There’s no need for solemnity. No need to hide your feelings or pretend they don’t matter. Meditation is an opportunity to let go all of the roles we play in life, not to take on a new one called “the meditator”.
Instead of the art of doing nothing, maybe it’s more accurate to say that meditation is the recognition that there’s nothing that needs to be done. You can stop worrying about how you look or whether you’re doing something wrong. You can stop waiting for enlightenment to arrive. You can drop all of your baggage and just be. You’re already home.