The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. – Albert Einstein
The greatest challenge of modern life, within a war collectively waged, is not environmental degradation, global warming or poverty.
It is addiction to thought.
Consider how much mental and physical energetic drain is siphoned daily due to thoughts. Thoughts of insecurity, judgment, worry, fear, anger and, yes, hatred.
When thoughts go awry and into patterned entrenchment, we shut down the celebrated human qualities of self-reflection, empathy and positive social engagement. We switch to autopilot and become heavily self identified and suffer.
In groups, we can be prone to self-righteous degradation of other people (racism); domination of cultures, animals and lands (abuse and environmental exploitation); and vitriol and war (terrorism).
We wear an all-consuming identity that feasts on the supressed qualities we so desperately try to push away. And by ruminating within dualistic thought, the potential to fulfill individual human capability, support community integration and welcome global connection are diminished.
There is simply no space for ease, playfulness or greater perspective.
Please Do Not Feed … The Addiction
Each day, our world feeds the thought addiction with a bombardment of overt and covert messages that share, “You’re not enough” or “You need more.”
Many of us dutifully follow an outer script: We gain to attain. Yet once the solution of going faster and the novelty of accumulation have worn thin, where do we turn? That default plan says, “Get more.” But now we’re anxious, confused and perhaps even bitter that the gain-to-attain model we were encouraged to embrace by society and, generally, well-intended elders, is not nurturing enduring happiness or abiding peace.
We’ve purchased an ever-growing portfolio of exterior fixes to patch a wound that will not heal. Until, during one unanticipated moment that often happens at a most inopportune time, the mental damn breaks and we ask one very important question: “Then, how do I do this?” How do I find meaning? How do I allow all the goodness that lives within to shine in a world with war and suffering?
We have the ability to gain insight, as did our ancient predecessors. Humans have long been curious about how the mind shapes our experience of our world. Meditation was originally practiced as a way to know the greater expanse of your self. It is a deeply personal experience that is greater than, yet inclusive of, the addictive stream of I, me, mine. Meditation provides a space of safety where we lovingly consider and integrate all aspects of our self, including the parts we so desperately try to push away.
In the past, meditation was often connected with spiritual practice. Today that leaves a potential emotional residue for our dogma-weary world and “self improvement” seems a more neutral approach.
Yet meditation was the original remedy, the original pill, for worldly stresses; it remains even more credible today given its significant test of time by cultures, through varied methods. Stress, which is often caused by a triggered repetitive thought pattern, is not unique to our time, though we sometimes feel it is to due to inundation of information, advanced weapons of war and greater demands placed upon lands. But the Great Wars and the wars before, barbaric torture and famines and hardships faced by our ancestors were just as stressful. People have been predicting the end of time for centuries.
Mindfulness and meditation are particularly effective because we learn about and observe patterns as well as triggers to patterned thought: We explore, question and, ultimately, receive deep inner nourishment through meditation. It is an ancient solution, time-tested and true.
In addition, rather than the negative side effects often found through pharmaceuticals, meditation has positive cumulative effect. It teaches the mind, eventually, to rest in authenticity and, ultimately, to serve our more peaceful–yet creative and powerful–nature.
From this newfound vantage point, we see life anew: We are more content; we see more options; we take greater interest in helping others; there is joy in personal responsibility; we are interested in positive social engagement. Perhaps we even alleviate suffering and see life as a curriculum for mind and spirit, a game of high-and-go-seek with our highest intention and greatest awareness.
An Ancient Practice Confirmed in Modern Day
Modern science has only been capable of studying this ancient practice for about 60 years. Data attests to the beneficial effects upon individuals at home and workplace. A few of these benefits include:
- Improved brain function and more grey matter in the brain in just eight weeks
- Longer telomeres, which support more healthful aging
- Reduced anxiety, which enhances entire body function, including brain function
- Enhanced immune function. That means fewer sick days!
- Greater fulfillment and satisfaction
- Less reactivity; greater ability to be more discerning in thought
The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.― Nikola Tesla
If you are first learning, explore meditation with a local teacher. A well-trained local meditation teacher initially will be able to support your practice–and may be able to do so for many years. As you decide to continue, you will know if and when to attend workshops and possibly seek other teachers. Just because your friend likes one teacher does not mean that you will feel the same way. And, if meditation doesn’t call you right away, stay with it, try additional instructors and don’t give up: Just because your mind may race during a meditation session doesn’t mean you are not receiving benefit. It takes time for the mind to calm enough to release patterns.
For the workplace, your group should have a desire to learn and be open to learning meditation as a practice. Rather than expecting meditation to fulfill a pre-established business goal, meditation is an encompassing practice that can enhance all aspects of life, including workplace. Think of it as your wise 40-year-old self providing welcomed counsel to your teen self. We align with and learn from that which is of greater capacity and, then, allow that which is greater to serve family, career, community, world.
The workplace is now moving away from models of dominance, fear and isolation to welcome connectedness, creative collaboration and inherent trust of one another. The result? We feel safe. We are seen. Talent shines. Meditation effectively and sequentially, through practice, establishes the daily underpinning, the foundation for thriving workplace and world.
To experience a Guided Meditation for Hard Workers, visit Karuna’s YouTube Channel.