Meditation Has Moved From Fancy Dinner Status (A Nice-To-Have) To Flossing Status (Ya Gotta Do It).
Whether you’ve been doing it since the ’60s in San Francisco (in which case I wanna hang with you while you tell me your Stevie Nicks stories and we make daisy chains), or you’re the last of the stragglers to find out what Headspace is, I’m gonna come out and say it: Meditation is now a basic necessity. As far as I’m concerned, you can lump it in with food, water, shelter, affection, and staring at pictures of quokkas (I’ll wait here while you look them up).
OK, let’s continue.
Meditation is no longer something that gurus, self-help authors, and David Lynch do because it’s just kinda their thing. No, no, no. If you’re alive, you need to meditate.
Warum (that’s German for why)?
Our world is, for want of a better term... no, actually this one fits quite well: batshit crazy.
It’s marvellous and beautiful in a multitude of ways, and it will continue to be – never stop noticing and appreciating that. But it’s batshit crazy, too. I feel like going into why is fairly unnecessary here. (Insert essay on tech, mental health, global warming, inequality, wilfull blindness, pandemics, et cetera).
And guess who has to learn how to live here more peacefully and help make it better for all of us? Look at the upper right-hand corner of your Zoom call screen and check your hair, my friend, because I’m talking to you.
Meditation will help you live in this world, and feel better about yourself and the challenges you face. Think of it as a kind of emotional, mental, and ethereal armour. Now, I’m not going to go into the benefits of meditation here. All you need to do is sneeze on your keyboard and you’ll find 2 billion Google search results on the benefits of meditation.
This is more just a kick in the butt.
So now you know that you need to be doing it: how long, how often and what kind of meditation (Zen, transcendental, walking, mantra, chakra, and so on) is entirely up to you. There is something to float everyone’s lotus flower, so to say.
In regards to length, though, I will say this: I don’t buy into the “two minutes is all it takes” thing. For most city-dwellers, this is not enough unless you’re willing to do this about 20 frickin’ times a day. I recommend sitting to meditate or, in a pinch, some very serene walking (no headphones, not on the street), for at least ten minutes a day as a bare minimum. If you want to do 30 minutes, that’s great. Or if you want to split an hour up and disperse your meditation practice throughout the day, superb-o.
On the flip side, there is such a thing as meditating too much. In my mind, anything over an hour a day is tricky to sustain for practical reasons, and I question how much more you can gain from doing three or five hours of meditation a day than you can from one, unless you’re on a vipassanā retreat or studying to be a monk. Humans didn’t come here to meditate all the ding-dang day. We came here to create things, connect with people, and hear Dimash Kudaibergen sing “SOS D'un Terrien En Détresse” (again, I’ll wait while you look it up).
(OK, if you really looked that up just now, I’ll allow a few minutes for your tears to dry.)
(Alright, let’s finish up...)
Whether you use a special technique or prefer to just sit and watch your breath, what matters is that you create regular time for solitude with no interruptions and no influences from other people’s brains (bye-bye podcasts, audiobooks, and reading). Doing quiet activities like that is great, but IT IS NOT MEDITATION AND IT DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME EFFECTS as being alone with your mind and your energy (sorry for shouting, I'm getting worked up).
I know being alone with your thoughts can be scary, especially if you get anxious. To deal with this, either start by doing some mindful walking, or start with shorter times. True, I’m not buying into the “two minutes a day” thing, but only as an end goal. To start out with even one minute is great. Just build from there.
Treat meditation like when you do some bizarre workout and you begin to feel muscles you didn’t know you had. If you haven’t done it before, it’s going to feel weird and uncomfortable. Be patient and practice a few times and you’ll start to notice that you’re doing something really good for yourself and the people around you.