Recently a client asked me to introduce him to meditation.
After I explained the basic ins-and-outs of it, he asked, “So it provides relief? That’s why people do it?”
I chuckled at this question, as it was trying to apply a goal-oriented mindset to something that inherently is a process.
A Completely Different Approach
In Western society we have what a colleague of mine describes as “Destination Addiction.” Embedded in the fabric of our culture is the constantly moving goal-posts, always asking, “What’s next?”
Graduate high school. Declare a major and graduate college. Get a job. Buy a house. Get married. Have kids. Get promoted…and so forth.
Meditation offers a very different approach. As we meditate, we are present. There is nowhere to go. There is nothing to do. There are no goals.
When we meditate, we are sitting for the purpose of sitting. We are being for the purpose of being.
There is ample evidence documenting how meditation helps reduce stress, positively changes brain function and boosts the immune system. It is becoming a more common “prescription” for people who have high anxiety or elevated blood pressure.
But saying that we meditate to provide relief or to lower our blood pressure can be seen as missing the point.
You Can’t Fail on a Journey
Putting a goal on meditation has the potential to assign a pass/fail, right/wrong designation to our practice.
It’s not a failure of meditation, or you’re not doing it “wrong,” if you experience stress after meditating, or if your blood pressure remains unchanged.
Meditation is a practice of seeing ourselves and experiencing the world differently. It is a journey. We experience each moment, regardless of what arises.
The most common effects upon completing a meditation session are a sense of relief, greater connection to oneself, and less stress. But to say that we meditate to provide those things is to say that we listen to our favorite song for how we feel afterwards. We enjoy our favorite song because of the song itself. It is the journey of the experience of the music that makes a song worth listening to, and this journey is what evokes any feelings we have afterwards.
Certainly, meditating helps bring about a greater sense of ease in life. It is a wonderful counterbalance to the incessant going and striving that pervades our “What’s next?” culture. To maximize the benefits of this requires us to take on a different mindset entirely. Meditate simply to meditate.
The rewards will show up anyway, and when they do, they will be wonderfully pleasant surprises as the next steps on our journey.