Picture an apple tree. Now picture an apple falling down. What happens over time? The apple looses its freshness and if not eaten — decays and eventually dies.
Meditation is a state of mind where we keep the apple attached to the tree. We keep it fresh, pristine, youthful, alive, and new. The apple is a metaphor for our true self. Our true self is the being that sees beyond the veil of the ego and does not identify with the never-ending, monotonous thoughts.
Last week, I went to the Berkeley Vipassana Center and meditated for 3 hours. I decided to finish this post shortly after. Of the many things that meditation has provided, it’s shown me the art of observation.
In our fast paced world, people identify with thoughts because they:
- Want to be a rich and famous without sacrifice
- Are convinced that the apocalypse is near
- Can’t hold a stare much less a conversation
- Are lonely despite the myriad of dating apps
- Are afraid they might offend someone, even if it’s not deliberate
- Are constantly chasing money despite knowing death is near
- Believe everything the news/media shares
- Worry endlessly about shit that doesn’t really matter
- Give up
We’ve adopted many self-inflicted problems. It may seem impossible to overcome them — but we can! It doesn’t matter if you sit, stand, eyes closed, eyes open, or if you do fucking cartwheels. Meditation is the art of being with oneself without the illusory noise of yesterday and tomorrow.
It’s not meant to find God, recount past lives, or become some Zen monk. It’s a pragmatic and practical practice. It’s geared towards alleviating problematic situations that come up in our lives that cause needless suffering.
I was showering one day and started rubbing my nipples in a counter clockwise motion while thinking about all the states in the U.S. If you took my previous sentence seriously, then I urge you to laugh more.
Life is beautifully fucked, sadly happy, lovingly hateful, and any other paradox you may fancy. To live between the paradoxes is where wisdom lives. I don’t know why I chose 50, much like I don’t know how the next sentences will play out.
It’s kind of bizarre that I have so much to say about a practice that encourages people not to think, not to do, and not to be. It’s one of the most important practices I’ve EVER adopted. I sincerely hope that you give it a try or continue practicing if you’ve fallen off.
- Meditation will not guarantee happiness. Happiness is just as temporary as sadness. However, it will help you understand emotions like the seasons. Sometimes winter, sometimes spring, and always ever changing.
- It’s not about your resume, but instead your eulogy. We live in a world where we are judged by the sum of our accomplishments. Meditation helps acknowledge the ever changing cycle of the world, and that in the face of death, nothing matters except the people you love. It’s helped me be kind to myself and others. I don’t have the most impressive resume and I don’t care. Those around me see something more valuable. Let others see this in you!
- You’ll be better suited to achieve your goals. It’s still important to excel in our careers and reach for the stars. Meditation helps us focus our attention on our goals. A clear focus helps cut, cripple, and crystallize individual tasks. It’s always the little things that make the big picture.
- It will help you enjoy your own company. People would rather text someone while driving and risk killing others than being alone. Meditation brings truth to the fact that you’re always alone and that true peace and self-fulfillment is with you right now. Life will go through constant streams of ups and downs. You will always have yourself to rely on. Meditation helps build this bond.
- It will make you want less materialistic. At times, the things we desire come from scarcity within. Meditation puts us in a place of abundance. With a regular practice, the simplest things bring us the most joy. I enjoy sunsets. The days I’m lucky, the sun’s rays will dance with the clouds to create a colorful canvas of dark pinks and purples. To take pleasure in moments like these are special.
- It might make you eat consciously. With a regular meta-meditation practice (love and kindness) it’s became harder to support factory farming. Without suppression, my tendency to love all as myself has brought awareness to the processes around me. I choose to support buying my food from local resources that regenerate the soil and provide the best most humane lives for their animals.
- You’ll start to meet deep, insightful, and introspective people. These types of people are constantly trying to make themselves better — helping you become the best version of you. Good energy attracts good energy.
- It will help you forgive yourself. Meditation puts us in a state of mind where we look at impermanence seriously. You’ll start to look at your flaws as opportunities to foster self-growth. You’ll be more confident in letting yesterday go because it doesn’t exist anymore. Learn from the mistakes and move on. The world is too fucking awesome not to!
- You’ll laugh more. The whole concept of life is kind of bizarre. We are spinning on a giant rock called earth. When you take this information to heart, the majority of the problems we trivialize become rather amusing.
- No one really knows what the fuck they are doing. We are all simply getting by. Meditation opens us up to the beauty of the unknown world. We are all works in progress and if we can come to know that knowledge, is an endless river that pours into an infinite ocean. It’s okay not to know, but we must evolve. Progress gives life meaning. The caterpillar has the desire to become a butterfly.
- It’ll help reduce your coffee intake. I was a coffee fanatic— but meditation makes me present which brings energy to the mind and body. What sounds more appealing? A sudden jolt of energy followed by a crash or sustained energy throughout the day?
- It unlocks creativity. Theoretical physicists are conducting cutting edge research showing that the art of creation is born when the mind is present. For example, I’m not writing this article now. Perhaps it was written when I was at the beach or walking through the redwoods. I’m merely transcribing what is already in me.
- It will help foster a better relationship with your partner. Meditation keeps the mind young and new. If you wake up everyday and see your partner as new, it can re-kindle that magic that made you fall in love with him/her in the first place.
- It helps you understand that tomorrow will never come. We know this in theory, but few actually live it. Meditation is about harnessing the strings of the chaotic mind into this moment. You can’t love tomorrow because it’s not guaranteed. You only have now to show love. Everyone instantly becomes more special when you start seeing them as if you’ll never see them again.
- Nature hikes start to take on a new meaning. Meditation makes the senses sharper. A simple hike becomes a full on sensory experience. I don’t just walk in nature, I become it. I can look at trees for hours. I get more pleasure watching birds and the sunsets than I do watching a movie.
- It will take away gray hairs. The science on this is inconclusive but from experience, I can see gray hairs going away. I don’t care much for vanity and embrace getting older but this is a byproduct of the practice. I’ve noticed regular meditators looking healthier and more vibrant as well.
- You’ll want to get deeper into the practice and learn different types of techniques. Getting high off of your own consciousness is the best kind of addiction. I started doing simple breathing exercises and now meditate 1–2 hours a day with a practice called Vipassana. If there is only one thing I could recommend to anyone, it would be to try out this practice.
- The cold won’t bother you as much. Meditation is the art of understanding that all feelings and emotions come and go. When I’m extremely cold I know it won’t last forever. I’ve started taking colder showers as of late. It started as a physical austerity, but now it’s how I prefer to shower.
- You’ll start to enjoy your food more. I had to watch television or listen to music to enjoy food, but these days food is all I need. I chew my food slower and taste every bite. I devout my attention to my meal. Meditation helps bring awareness to the dinner table.
- It can help break addictions. Whether it’s drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, food, porn, etc., addiction consumes people because they feel inadequate and have self-esteem issues. Meditation is a calling of the spirit telling us that we are enough. We don’t need external means to feel pleasure. It’s within us.
- It will help with concentration. After I came back from a 10-Day meditation stint in the woods, I read a whole book in one sitting. I’m simply more engaged in whatever I’m doing. The most mundane activities like brushing my teeth to more complex ones like learning Java-script, carry equal importance.
- It’s an excellent way to break bad digital habits. Meditation takes our eyes off the digital prison that consumes us and helps us acknowledge the beauty that is already here. Everything in life doesn’t have to be instantaneous. It’s okay to call a friend later and the world won’t change if you don’t check social media.
- It may help you lose weight. My meditation sessions were more powerful on an empty stomach. I naturally started eating less. Through my own research, I started intermittent fasting . In the beginning, those hunger pains were real, but meditation was a reminder that pain, like all feelings, will soon be replaced by others.
- I’m a better listener. Before meditation came into my life, I was constantly giving advice to my loved ones with lessons learned from my experiences. Meditation helped me listen to others issues and have trust that they can answer their own questions.
- I have empathy. I see all people as united with different experiences. These experiences are all unique. I don’t judge, ridicule, condemn, or think negatively about others because I will never know another’s journey. To put ourselves in another shoes is something we are loosing as a society. To feel the pain of another as your own will bring more love into the world, and help us see that we are not all that different.
- Intuition is heightened. I see things for how they are and not how I believe they should be. This has enabled me to safely assume peoples behaviors. Meditation clears the fog in the mind allowing instincts to become stronger. This can come in handy in professional and personal relationships.
- You might start enjoying mantras of the East. I grew up questioning and negating everything about Hinduism and although I consider myself a spiritual non-sectarian (non-religious), this type of music holds a special place in my heart. A few artists you might enjoy are Jai Utal, Snatam Kaur and Krishna Das.
- It can help reduce stress. Too much worry and anxiety causes the blood to thicken and the heart to work harder. Meditation keeps us in the now and not in the fairy tale world where stress likes to dance. The ego is the identification with your mental state and that’s where stress lives. Meditation helps us hear the notes between the music.
- It will help keep your house clean. With a meditative mind, chores become enjoyable because it becomes an opportunity to practice presence. I also think the way we keep our surroundings is a projection of us internally.
- You forgive others easily. Mark Twain once said, ““forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.’” People may cross you, hurt you, and belittle you, but there is something innocent and pristine in all of us. Forgiveness is not for others. It’s a selfish act. It’s not letting others not tarnish your spirit.
- You’ll sleep less but be fully restful. I sleep 4–5 hours a night and feel great. Living in the present gives energy. Thinking about the past and future takes it. Without knowing, we needlessly leech so much of our energy by not being in this moment. By being extremely attentive and focused on tasks at hand, you will increase your energy output. It’s a like hybrid car that constantly recharges it’s battery when in use.
- Everyday is a vacation. To find bliss wherever you are is a tremendous gift. Meditation gives you this. The world is new everyday. Nothing is the same as yesterday. Not even you. I wake up everyday inspired. Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, ““When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’”
- Meditation is a natural aphrodisiac. Sex becomes more awesome. Wait, sex is always awesome, but when you practice meditation, you become more in tune to your partner’s needs.
- Minimalism becomes natural. I don’t have lots of possessions. Not because I don’t want them, I just don’t care for tangible items. I take good care of what I have. Buying anything other than food becomes a serious matter. Meditation gives you unprecedented strength, wisdom, and compassion. Material items can’t do this.
- It encourages a healthy lifestyle. Our time is not guaranteed. Taking care of ourselves allows us to live a life full of vitality. When you’re in a place of peace, you’ll want to maintain that with your eating and exercise habits. These little habits make the big difference in the long run.
- It’s anti-aging. Just because we are getting older doesn’t mean we have to look it. Stress plays a huge part in our aging. When you see people that meditate regularly, you’ll notice their vibrant demeanor. Stress and worry leach valuable years from us.
- It improves your memory. I’m able to remember names better. I can read a list of ingredients on a recipe and buy them at a store without writing them down. I remember more quotes and passages from books than I can count. Lately, I’ve been able to recount specific details from my childhood. The more I meditate the further I’m able to go back. Check out the research!
- You’ll become humble. Humility is a rare quality. It helps us become better listeners, put others first, not think highly of our accomplishments, or become stationary with our setbacks.
- You’ll start to volunteer for causes greater than your own. I’ve been tutoring children at shelters since my early 20’s and for the meals on wheels program in San Francisco, CA. The planets DO NOT revolve around me. Helping others make my life better. Rabindranath Tagore, a famous Indian writer once said, ““I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.‘”
- You start to live with more urgency. Life is fleeting right now. The timer started with the Big Bang. It started when you were conceived, you’re parents conception, and so on. Do what you love now. You don’t have tomorrow. On your death bed, you will not worry about the things you did do, you’ll agonize over the things you didn’t. Die as if this moment was your last.
- It will help you find meaning in your career. Meditation has given me the confidence to try new things, fail, and try again. It’s helped me to detach from outcomes. I enjoy the process. This carefree and slightly impish disposition can unlock something beautiful in life. There is no end game. It’s just a game.
- You’ll start giving less of a fuck. I’m still kind and thoughtful but care less of what others think about me. If people want me in their life, that’s cool. If they want to mute me from it, that’s cool too. Life is trivial if spent wanting to win everyone’s approval. Carl Sagan once said, “’Everyone of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.’”
- Automaticity ceases to exists. Having consistency is important, but being attached to it is another problem. Everyday will be different. I have a routine that I follow in the mornings, but if things change, that’s okay. Meditation has taught me not to be attached to my routines.
- You’ll become more resilient. When things get hard and finding a resolution to problems become null and void, meditation is the elixir that enables us to push forward. It helps us look at setbacks as opportunities to further grow as a person.
- You’ll treat people like they are dying. The term death is relative. Are we dying when we are born, or when we touchdown on the grave? I adhere to the former. Death is happening around us right now. I know everyone I come across in my life will perish. I have an innate need to show love and be kind today.
- It’s harder to get offended. Whether someone cuts you off in traffic or the barista gets your order wrong — it’s great to not take offense to everything. When someone offends you, nothing happens. Meditation is the acknowledgement that to get offended, you have to be 100% identified with your thoughts. When that percentage comes down, you’ll start to observe your thoughts and less likely to identify with them.
- Pain will become more tolerable. Pain is temporary and all feelings come and go. The more we meditate, the more we understand the waves of life. Sometimes the current is rocky and other times it’s calm. It’s always changing, but it’s not forever.
- It will make you high. People drink, smoke weed, and drop molly at Phish concerts because they want to add pleasure into their lives. There is nothing wrong with this, but it’s limiting. Meditation has become my drug of choice.
- Reclaim your childhood. Meditation helped me reclaim my youth . I recently wrote about this in an article that got over 2,000 views in it’s first week.
- It’s F-U-N. Meditation is the opportunity to look inward. There are more cells in our body than stars in the universe. It’s fun to know that you can feel high, pleasured, satiated, tolerant, understand impermanence, unlock creativity, and build a stronger foundation of love with a practice that encourages nothing.
I bid well as you begin your meditation practice!