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Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Meditation Doesn’t Benefit Everybody

I remember an incident. I was just out of my college and was preparing my resume to apply to companies. I sent its first draft to a faculty member for improvements. In the “personal” section I had written that I loved making cartoons and practiced a meditation called Vipassana.

What he replied was quite interesting. He said he would have loved doing something creative like making cartoons but wouldn’t waste his time in doing something useless like Vipassana.

I always saw him as a sensible man who never said something without having some logic behind it. I didn’t ask anything more about his comment but assumed that he might have tried it at least once.

But his comment kept making me think over and over again. After all, why does meditation not benefit everybody? Now I think I have an answer.

I went to Bodhgaya to learn Vipassan around 10 years back. And I made a promise to myself that I would never go back again. I found it so difficult and useless. A meditation student is not allowed to speak for 9 days; he has to get up at 4 am to start meditating; he gets literally no food after 11 am; and he has to sit in meditation 10 hours a day which is quite painful.

After making that promise to myself I have gone to do that Vipassana course four more times in the last ten years. Now I wonder why I didn’t find it beneficial in the first go and why I found it beneficial later.

The answer lies in the difference between curiosity and necessity.

When I went to do Vipassana for the first time, I was just curious. I felt meditation would be a cool thing to experience, and maybe it will also help me in doing some intellectual bragging among friends. No wonder then that I didn’t see any benefits.

When I went for the second time, one year later, I went with a different purpose: necessity. I had practiced Vipassana at home in that duration although not very regularly. I went through a few low points in my life and I tried to apply Vipassana to help myself handle them. And it did help. I could easily feel peace, get my mental balance back and strengthen myself mentally. I developed some faith in the technique and now I wanted to learn it seriously because it was going to help me in life. This time I saw lots of benefits.

So, I feel people who try meditation out of curiosity may not turn out to be its greatest fans. But if somebody is going through a crisis and he is looking for a solution, he would be able to see many benefits of meditation very clearly.

Meditation is the ultimate medicine. Actually meditation and medicine originate from the same word. One needs to go through the disease to experience the benefits of the medicine. Maybe that’s why a crisis guarantees a better understanding of meditation’s benefits.

Buddha decided to seek the help of meditation when he was going through the biggest crisis of his life. He had lost meaning in the life everybody is attracted to. He wanted a solution for the problems life throws at us.

But one doesn’t need to wait for a crisis before he tries experiencing meditation. One can learn and experience it keeping in mind the crisis his life is waiting with. Then he would be able to handle it better.

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