Is Meditation About Brain Fitness?
Meditation has officially become mainstream. It is practised by CEOs of big corporations, celebrities, it is taught in schools, discussed in talk shows and it is a popular topic in the media. Is this a good thing? I can feel already all the spiritual orthodox getting itchy and can hear their arguments demonising the commercialisation of meditation. They moan about Western culture transforming meditation into a commodity, a product to sell, a trend, a cool thing to show off, an empty exercise. I have heard all of that about Yoga. Yoga was conceived as a spiritual practise to reach Enlightenment; it is now practised like an alternative fitness class. I say: “So what? What’s wrong with that?” Even if taken superficially, Yoga has helped thousands of people across the globe improve their wellbeing; that's good enough for me.
Nowadays it is a recognised fact that physical exercise is good for health. Similarly, society as a whole has come to accept that meditation is good for your brain and general health. An explosion of scientific studies has emerged in the last few decades, providing evidence that meditation does work. This has attracted the attention of all those people looking for self-development and above all “peak performance”. Meditation is the new “smart drug”: a very powerful tool to reduce stress and improve performance. It gives you a sharper mind, enhanced focus and attention, more energy, better sleep, and even better sex.
To me all this is absolutely fantastic! Of course all spiritual seekers know perfectly well that all the above is just a by-product of meditation. Ultimately meditation will lead you to drop your ego and all its achieving driven approach. With sincere practice and dedication, if you have a taste of “no-mind” and go beyond the usual state of consciousness, something of the beyond will penetrate your being. This little seed one day will grow into a big tree which will remove the old patterns. All desires of achieving, improving, and performing will evaporate.
I have full trust in the power of meditation. If people really meditate, one day they will experience an inner shift. Meditation is a trap for the ego, it is the funeral of the mind, it cannot be done to strengthen the mind; this is just an illusion of the mind that wants to turn everything into its own old tricks.
So I welcome with excitement, the new Western culture which sees meditation as a “brain fitness”, fitness for the mind stripped of any religion connotation. Spiritual Masters down the ages have used all sorts of devises to “trick” people into meditation. They could not say openly that meditation is the death of the mind but once you are caught in the net, meditation will overtake despite your mind.
It is said that Buddha was once asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” To which he responded, “Nothing! However, let me tell you what I lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”
Or is this the end of meditation? What do you think?