Building community in a changing world

May 20, 2021

Meditation Isn’t a Miracle Cure (But It Does Help)

I’m in agreement with much of what is said in this LinkedIn post by Mark McCartney entitled “Ignore much of how meditation is sold.” Here’s an excerpt:

Companies exaggerate its instant positive effects and many meditators do likewise. They have spent their lives being good students in school, good employees at work and can’t help themselves in trying to be “good” meditators – competing with each other and regurgitating experiences that they’ve read about as their own.

None of which is my business, each to their own. The problem I have is that in both the exaggeration of it effect and in the exaggeration of the depth and serenity of someone’s practice, it leads people that are new at meditation to feel like they are doing it wrong. They end up thinking they are bad meditators and ultimately quit before they’ve really started.

But I would say the biggest thing that confuses newbies is that they sit and wait for their mind to be quieted immediately. That’s not going to happen. Those stories will still come. You might meditate for 50 years, 100 years, and those stories are still going to float into your mind. That’s just part of being human. Meditation won’t turn those off. It won’t turn you into a robot.

Unfortunately, many beginners expect this sudden transformation – perhaps because we live in a society where the answer to most things is “there’s a pill for that.” What meditation does allow you to do is to learn to recognize the stories for what they are – they’re just stories. And once you get the hang of that recognition, you can start to change the storyline, change the arc of your character – and sometimes even find that complete silence while meditating. Now that’s a result I can live with!