Cutting Through the Misconceptions of Meditation
Saying you practice Transcendental Meditation at school can evoke some really odd looks.
It’s unfortunate that something so profound has been shrouded in misconception and false belief. I’ve heard everything from “that’s that hippy thing, right?” to “meditation is full of shit” to “do you levitate?”. I’m not sure why some people hold these beliefs so tightly, but the truth is, meditation is quite the opposite.
Looking from the inside out, I find it odd that people don’t understand meditation and what it is. But at the same time, I can see where they are coming from. There are a lot of hippie, new-agey people that promote meditation as this sort of devotion to an LSD-like trip that gives you some sort of out-of-body experience. The sad part is, this isn’t true for the majority of meditations and yet, these are the people that are in your face the most – probably because they are trying to prove the unproven, non-existent benefits of their practice to others and, in particular, themselves.
Meditation Is A Real Practice – No Hippy-Trips Allowed
What makes this really unfortunate is that it distorts the fact that a significant portion of meditation techniques are simply an effective tool to improve your body and mind. Two that you may immediately call to mind are Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness. These techniques are based on proven benefits, real experiences, and an unwavering foundation of knowledge about how the mind works.
As a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM), I’ve seen first hand how these false perceptions of meditation negatively impact its public image. It seems as though they have deterred people’s ability to perceive meditation as a real practice that has real benefits. I find that even after explaining the mechanics and immense benefits of TM, people still have a difficult time getting past their (false) perceptions to see what it actually is – a simple, natural, effortless technique that causes profound positive benefits for the body and mind.
(Side note: if you’re like me and you think self-promoting blog articles are largely full of crap, then start here: http://ca.tm.org/web/guest/scientific-research-anxiety, the studies are listed in this subpage, you can find the studies online and read them for yourself).
I Want It! I Need It! But It’s Not For Me…
It is rather peculiar when a person is staring down something they have always wanted and simply turn away from it. I have yet to understand why so many people do this. They see the benefits. They see what it will do for them. They want it. Yet they still say no.
The most common thing I’m told is “I can’t afford it” – and yes, to some, if not many, this is a real and unfortunate concern. But when you watch these same people blow $350 on a weekend of boozing or $1,000 on a one week boozing vacation, oftentimes ‘experiences’ they can hardly recall a few years later, it really makes you wonder. This is actually a lot more common than anyone I’ve met cares to think.
This is Frustrating and Confusing
But what I find even more confusing is when a person can afford it, they want it, and they still don’t take it.
In case you haven’t noticed – all of this frustrates me.
It frustrates me because I see these same people, often friends, struggling with the same issues I used to struggle with during the 14 months I stopped meditating.
It frustrates me because I came out on the other side of that and TM was a huge component in doing so.
It frustrates me because I know TM can be the catalyst for anyone to move past these struggles and become something greater, both in and out of school.
And it frustrates me because I want to help. I try to help. But it’s hard to help when you don’t understand…
What I’ve Learned Promoting Meditation & TM
Maybe I’m just being a little too sentimental. But at the same time, maybe not…
I guess what I’ve learned in the year I’ve essentially devoted to promoting TM and meditation overall on university campuses, is that this is really a personal decision. I can motivate you. I can make you aware. I can explain it over and over.
But in the end…
It’s your own personal decision.
It’s you who has to decide if you actually want to feel better and be better day-to-day.
In the end, this is the choice you have to make:
What version of yourself do you want to be?
I can only hope it’s the right one.