Meditation seems to just be another thing to add to our list of healthy things to do. Meditation has become another hot topic in these recent times. Although the current cult of defaming and misrepresenting Yoga must be topic de Jour. Lets stay with this aspect of Traditional Yoga for now.
We are advised to eat better, exercise (more?), go to counseling (me?) and meditate. I’m sure you have your list of “things” to do. The premise of this advise is often based on this thought
If you meditate, then you will be happy, healthy and wealthy
OK–you could put what ever you want in place of meditation as the “should” and the formula remains written in our minds. We often do stuff in order to “Get Better”. It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? We are a society and culture of seeking happiness. Nothing wrong with that. It is when we become preoccupied with ourselves that a distortion of viewpoint comes into our lives and culture. This idea and self focus is not the same in meditation and Yoga when speaking of the Self. My main point is to look at the way in which we are doing our practice. If it is basically to improve, that is not wrong. That viewpoint just is not the same as the traditional teachings that emphasize first getting better in order to get ready to come to the Self. This latter perspective is not about helping the self. It is about revealing the true Self. That may be a bit much for some of us to swallow at this time. Realize that this whole journey has many stages and levels to it. We all don’t have to be at the same point in our practice. An understanding of the traditional teachings and viewpoint can be very helpful.
Many ancient wisdom teachings utilize some method of introspection or inward traveling to delve into this unknown territory. It was done in a different context. This self discovery of the Self was/is an eminent occupation. It is made by only the best of minds and bodies. It isn’t a journey for the weak and confused. Living life in business, school and family for most is a preparation for the journey of meditation.
Here is the key, I think. The wisdom teaching is not about getting better per se. One essentially got better so that you could meditate. Being in shape both physically, mentally and socially would then allow the necessary time and availability to take on this fairly arduous task. This task of knowing oneself truly is what we are really about in this world.
So the short of it all is–Get Better in Order to Meditate–otherwise you will fool yourself, we will fool ourselves into thinking and telling tall stories of our improvements and successes. This all happens in the mind and ego. It is a tricky business.
So once again, emphasize preparation. Train hard. Work at life, enjoy the world and become ready. Then once having a healthy and focused mind, do come into the depths of the mind.
Many of us are on the road to improvement. This is all fine and good. The place that improvement has in life today is different the place of improvement of days gone by. Now we improve ourselves to get a better job, to get a better relationship, to get better health, to get better at stuff. Then we die. Oh my God–death is coming. Let’s talk about that later. More like talk about that only when forced to confront sickness and close friends/family deaths.
In fact, this whole idea of getting better by doing these things has not always been held by all people. I’m not talking now to those who are couch potatoes or distracted by illness/disease, etc.