DEBUNKED: Meditation is for Boring Perfectionists
TRUTH: Meditation is for Boring Perfectionists and Interesting Imperfectionists
It’s not all blissful smiles and picturesque lifestyles. Media representations tend to depict a very limited view of meditation and thereby leave a bland impression of meditation. What's missing is the wildness and dynamism of meditation.
If you have a distaste for meditation because everything you’ve seen and heard about it is tedious, I understand where you are coming from. Seriously. When everything you see and hear about meditation sounds the same and seems like it’s something for a boring perfectionist, and you are an interesting imperfectionist, it’s perfectly reasonable that you would be running for the hills.
But wait, come back.
Meditation is more than trying way too hard to be a good person by doing this super boring thing of sitting quietly for 20 minutes a day.
Yes, meditation is often associated with a serene countenance and mild-manneredness (do a quick Google search if this isn't ringing a bell). No, meditation will not necessarily make you serene and mild-mannered. Meditation can indeed be grounding and bring about a sense of peace, but it can do a lot more than that too. Meditation is just as much aligned with what is adventurous, spontaneous, diverse, and fun as it is with calm and peace—really meditation is as diverse as human minds.
Meditation is just as much aligned with what is adventurous, spontaneous, diverse, and fun as it is with calm and peace—really meditation is as diverse as human minds.
Meditation can be as much like swinging in a hammock as it can be like forging a river. Some days its luscious mellow vibes, others it’s high speed winds and you’re just trying not to crash the helicopter you’re flying. Meditation is surveying the scene—taking in what is, and so it accommodates all variation of human experience. We all know that when it comes to inner experience, there is a rich spectrum. Meditation practice, over time, is like going on a long hike or a road trip; the scenery changes, and each unique landscape and soundscape contributes to the journey. Thank goodness it doesn’t all stay the same.
Some days its luscious mellow vibes, others it’s high speed winds and you’re just trying not to crash the helicopter you’re flying.
So yes, you can meditate and then work out to EDM like there’s no tomorrow. You can meditate and then break down into tears. You can celebrate later with friends, or you can read and go to sleep (what does the moment call for?). You can make mistakes, you can doubt meditation or anything makes a difference and try it anyway...you can change your mind.
A practice of meditation can support processing, and therefore deeper engagement with and contextualization of any given experience, keeping you connected with yourself and showing you new possibilities and interpretations. The contextualization opportunity offered by meditation can give rise to insight and may stimulate you to raise or lower your energy output. It may trigger a life change or amplified efforts in the direction you're already going. It depends.
Where does the “boringness” theme come from? It’s a great question. I think that many people turn to meditation when life gets really tough—when coping and healing have become priorities and boringness is more than welcome considering the chaos and intensity of the circumstances. These are the kinds of stories we hear about in the media. They certainly are remarkable and important stories of a shift from frenzy and crisis to calm and serenity—but they don’t resonate with everyone and these are not the sole contents of meditation.
Furthermore, there are not many ways to depict meditation other than a person sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed. But meditation is far more than an image can communicate, and touches every part of your life. It would be like if the only representation of “Scientist” you ever saw was a person staring into a microscope. Why would that inspire you to become a scientist? Seems boring! What are they even looking at and how can it be so interesting to them?
It would be like if the only representation of “Scientist” you ever saw was a person staring into a microscope.
SO, with a little imagination and experimentation, we come to see that meditation is not this tedious, boring thing. It’s not just for really organized people who are trying to set up a perfect life and adhere to society’s favorite values in an effort to be a good person. There’s no reason meditation can’t support both the shy and the bold, the organized and the disorganized, the rebel, the teacher, the gamer, the hell-raiser, the social butterfly. Meditation isn’t *for* select personality types any more than sleeping is *for* select personality types. Yes, maybe more, maybe less and maybe at different times for different people. Maybe one pillow, maybe two. But ultimately, it serves a purpose that transcends your view of yourself and your belief about “the types of things you do.”
There’s no reason meditation can’t support both the shy and the bold, the organized and the disorganized, the rebel, the teacher, the gamer, the hell-raiser, the social butterfly.
It’s a way toward insight into the nature of mind and an integration of the self. Even though it is an effective pathway for establishing steadiness within, the whole practice is actually quite wild and adventurous—the heart, body, and mind are not exactly tame.
Even though it is an effective pathway for establishing steadiness within, the whole practice is actually quite wild and adventurous—the heart, body, and mind are not exactly tame.
I don’t know what it’s going to be like for you. I can share insights from my journey as a way of providing a reference point for you, but I have no idea what you’re going to experience, and I don’t know what you’re going to do next. Go find out…maybe you’ll surprise yourself.