Meditation is great. It helps you get centered and more in touch with your body and mind. It’s an excellent workout.
At the same time, an absolute focus on meditation as the only solution to a stressful lifestyle or cluttered brain is misplaced energy. If someone works out for an hour a day, then eats nothing but candy bars and Big Macs, smokes like a chimney, and shoots up heroine on the weekends, you would be correct in questioning their dedication to a healthy body.
Why, then, do we consider it to be the indicator of a healthy mind when someone takes an hour a day to focus on clear thinking before heading back to the ‘real world’ and operating as usual?
I would argue that rather than focusing on different brands of meditation, each served up like a sports team or martial art (“My Yoni Mudra style will defeat your Vipassana style!”), we should be focusing on being meditative in life. Always.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Most of us have grown accustomed to filling every spare moment with activity. When there’s no one around to talk to, we check our phones. Or we read. Or we open up a book and pretend to read. These are potentially beneficial activities, so it makes sense that we do them, but they also have the unfortunate side-effect of keeping us from simply being, from simply thinking.
Non-active existing. Just sitting or standing or walking and thinking. How often do you do this? How often does anyone?
We could be getting the value we’re trying to get from meditation without even having to set time aside. Just imagine a world where people were more conscious of themselves and their needs and where they fit in the world and how their body responds to different stimuli and what stresses them and what makes them happy and how they can help others achieve the same clarity they do.
Such always-on lucidity is possible, though unlikely if we meditate and then go back to our normal, cluttered ways of thinking.
Meditation is great, but being meditative, day in and day out, is better.
Update: February 20, 2017
I didn’t know it at the time, but there’s a word that approximates what I’m talking about here: mindfulness.
This is kind of a trendy thing at the moment, but you can absolutely see a difference in the people who really adhere to it. That said, there are still plenty of people who use it as more of a crutch to recover from their normal, non-meditative lives, which seems to miss the point.