Meditation Is the Greatest Service to the World
A true meditator does more for the world than the richest philanthropist
True mindfulness is being destroyed by imposters. Unfortunately, these imposters are loud enough that they’re replacing the original idea of mindfulness.
They lure people in for health benefits and throw in a little trendiness to make it seem cool. With this, even though we live in a world of distraction, mindfulness has captured our attention.
Here’s the problem. The over-hyped version of mindfulness lacks any of the nobility, compassion, humility, or kindness of what the original practice is all about.
“Meditation is a way to be narcissistic without hurting anyone” — Nassim Taleb
When I first heard this quote from Taleb, I thought “How in the world can meditation be narcissistic?”
Yet, the truth is, the prevailing narcissism of our time has distorted mindfulness, making it pernicious. And it’s solely a marketing problem — not a problem when mindfulness itself.
The techniques themselves aren’t hard. It isn’t also that people are practicing them wrong. But the attitude they bring to the practice is off-point. The hope that 2-min breathing techniques will open Pandora’s box is the problem here.
In pursuit of these benefits, they fall into the most common trap — focusing only on themselves. That’s where narcissism begins.
Even though I’ve never found meditation to be narcissistic in my own experience, I came across this problem while reading popular articles about mindfulness. As I said, it was hard to believe how people associated meditation with narcissism. But when I dug into it, I realized why.
And this article is a response to that.
Meditation Leads to Self-Enhancement?
In the paper published online by the University of Southampton, researchers note that the meditation teachings of transcending the ego contradict the findings of William James.
James posits that practicing any skill breeds a sense of self-enhancement. To put it simply, if you learn to play the guitar, and play it well, you feel good. But the reason you feel good is your sense of self-regard inflates.
In other words, your ego expands — “Wow, I’m such a good guitar player!”
Meditation, he argues, is like any other skill. Thus, getting good at it would inflate your ego to think you’re better than other meditators or those who don’t meditate.
But as I explain in more detail here, the reason these studies were able to find results that indicated higher self-enhancement is simple — the participants were practicing the teachings in a wrong manner.
Think about it. So few people around the world are actually interested in transcending the ego. They take up meditation to improve focus, or release stress. They take on yoga to reduce body fat or increase flexibility.
Most practitioners fail to inculcate the selfless aspect of the teachings in their lives. Naturally, they feel they’re better meditators than others or better yogis than their classmates.
It’s just a form of spiritual materialism that we all can fall into. This doesn’t mean that the teachings and principles of yoga-philosophy don’t work.
It means, we’re not doing them correctly — at least not with the right attitude.
Meditation Isn’t Selfish
Let’s assume meditation is selfish. Okay? By that definition, the following will also be selfish:
Exercising every day
Skipping parties to work on your side hustle on a Friday night
Rejecting to eat the delicious sugar candy’s in a meeting to ensure you stick to your diet
Anything that you do to improve yourself can be seen as selfish. But it isn’t really so.
If you ruin yourself, you can’t really do anything for others. Just like you put your oxygen mask first before helping others in an airplane crash, you can only help others when you’re happy and healthy.
The benefits of meditation are clear. Let’s see how it helps you help others and create a positive impact on their life.
Gives you more energy to care about the world around you
From a yogic point of view, meditation is the best way to raise the energy in your spine. When energy rises, you feel happy, joyful, and all other good states of being.
This heightened energy and awareness give you the strength to be compassionate.
The person who’s sad, angry, irritated or unhappy, can’t lift others. We need a deep source of strength to be able to do that. And meditation helps us access that perennial source that’s inside us at all times
It helps you sort out your selfish traits
Instead of making you self-involved, meditation helps you come face-to-face with your selfish traits and psychological patterns.
By meditating, you learn to see what is, and not what you want to see. It’s a process of brutal self-discovery. It helps you to, as Mark Manson would say, peel the onion of self-awareness.
You become aware of all the false identification you associate with yourself. You recognize areas where you act selfishly. Once you become aware of these issues, you can take the necessary steps to approach them with love and compassion.
In other words, what people call self-involvement in meditation is actually just a way to step back and introspect your own follies — without which no progress is possible.
It widens your perspective and perceptions
Most people are only aware of the outer world — the material reality. n this world, the primary mode of operation is “I,” “Me,” and “Mine.”
It’s full of ego-identifications that pushes people to do immoral things breeding out of fear or greed.
The overarching reality of this world is that we’re all separate — “This is mine and this is yours. Why should I share what’s mine with everyone?”
When you meditate, you explore an inner world. In this inner world, there’s no “I.” Your sense of self starts to melt in the vast sea of bliss. You start to see, (even for a few seconds at a time) that we’re all one.
When you go see a movie in a theater, the camera operator flashes the scenes in front of you. There are various characters in the movie — the hero, the villain, the sidekick, and so on. We think they’re all separate.
But if you turn your gaze to the operator, you see that they’re all coming from the same one ray of light.
Similarly, when you turn your gaze inward, you realize that what seems separate in this world only comes to existence through the light of God, or Pure Consciousness.
That’s what we all are.
And with that belief, you slowly start to drop your selfish desires to compete with others, to get ahead of them, to cheat them, or to take something from them.
Meditation helps you relinquish your ego and excessive identification with your little self, one session at a time.
It Improves relationships
In their book Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy, Susan Pollack, Thomas Pedulla, and Ronald Siegel describe how mindfulness practices, such as meditation, help us navigate the complex nuances of interpersonal relationships.
Developing what they refer to as intra-personal attunement, or awareness of our own thoughts and reactions, allows us to develop interpersonal attunement.
Most interpersonal conflicts arise because of unhealed wounds or events from the past that affect our perceptions. Meditation helps us deal with that baggage.
By working on ourselves, we give our best selves to others. Being mindful of how we perceive and treat others will only serve to strengthen relationships and mitigate conflict.
Imagine a person in your life who gets angry or irritated on the smallest of things. Now think what a great gift it’ll be if they start practicing mindfulness daily. They’ll be able to regulate their emotions and keep their impulses in check thereby making life better for everyone around them.
It cultivates compassion
From another point of view, meditation makes us compassionate towards ourselves. And self-compassion is a sine qua non to the ability to care for others.
This is why many eastern philosophies ranging from Buddhism to Hinduism include praying for the world as an integral part of the practice.
My own teachings guide me to pray for those who are in need after each meditation. It’s a great service to the world and to those around you.
And the love that flows through you purifies your soul as well.
Keeps the ego in check
Mindfulness helps us be more aware of how much our ego converts everything to its own use.
Even our attempts at humility can devolve into food for the ego (i.e. “I’m the most humble person here”).
With awareness, we can keep the ego in check.
One of my friends asked me the other day, “How are you so gentle? If someone talked to me like that, I’d smash him in the face!”
I just smiled inwardly and knew it’s because of my meditation practice.
Energy works in subtle ways. We don’t see it because we live in a material world — we can only see and feel matter. We can’t *see *energy. That doesn’t mean it’s not working!
When you meditate, you start to form a certain kind of uplifting aura all around you. There are aura cameras that can capture this. I once heard of a man who was inwardly chanting ‘Aum’ and was being photographed by one such camera.
In the photo, one could see a white light surrounding his body which is associated with a higher consciousness. Ergo, these things are real.
When people sense this change, they come to you for advice. They know that there’s something different about you, but they don’t know what. Whatever it is, they want more of it.
This is why meditation is not only about *you. *It’s a great service to mankind. By uplifting your aura and consciousness, you help people in unimaginable ways.
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