Friday, October 11, 2013

The Illusion of Meditation

I think too often we are 'sold' on the fantasied, romanticized imagery of meditation,  and I think this might be harmful.

My favourite are the pictures and especially landscapes associated with meditation. (Try googling meditation landscapes).

I know I can't sit on a beautiful sunny ocean shore and have any hope in hell to meditate. The sheer beauty of the surroundings are a brutal distraction. (But then again, I could be wrong. Maybe we're supposed to get to a point where we can 'tune-out' the surrounding beauty.... naah).

I think the Venerable Henepola Gunaratana agrees:
"We have certain images of meditation. Meditation is something done in quiet caves by tranquil people who move slowly. Those are training conditions. They are set up to foster concentration and to learn the sill of mindfulness. Once you have learned that skill, however, you can dispense with the training restrictions, and you should. You don't need to move at a snail's pace to be mindful. You don't even need to be calm. You can be mindful while solving problems in intensive calculus. You can be mindful in the middle of a football scrimmage. You can even be mindful in the midst of a raging fury"
Mindfulness in Plain English, pg. 93
My first (chance) encounter with mindfulness (before I even had a name for it) was during my Black Belt Examination. It was quite profound. But wouldn't have described myself or my actions as anything remotely close to quiet, tranquil or slow moving.

I wonder sometimes whether there's an unproductive industry out there that - really - only sells the idea of meditation. All the imagery and trappings; but little to no substance.
I think this might be the illusion of meditation.
I also think we should be careful of this; to be mindful of it.


ringnut said...

As with just about everything, industry will try to turn it into a product and market it. It is good to be reminded that, like everything important in life, mindfulness is not a commodity. It's available for anyone who seeks it.

'Seph Sayers said...

@ ringnut

It's nice to hear from you!
It seems so long!
Keep in touch