“Sitting here attempting to meditate, I have counted the number of ways I know of killing someone, using just a finger, a hand, a foot. I had reached 94 when you entered.” – Star Trek: Voyager
So, when I meditate? Gotta have a tiger. Nothing makes me calmer than sitting with an apex carnivore, because it allows me to forget materiality.
So, I’ve always thought that meditation must be cool. After all, David Carradine did it as Kwai Chang Caine all through the 1970’s as Kung Fu. And he could give any group of bullies very peaceful and regretful butt-kicking they deserved. And, really, throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s on television, meditation was seen as sort of a way to create super powers from within. The (often Asian, or certainly taught-by-Asians) character would sit down, legs crossed, and would meditate until he got super-strength, super quickness, super pain tolerance, super control of his nervous system, or . . . super control of his ability to quickly grow fingernails at twice the speed of a normal human.
It was everywhere. Meditation was the cure to all of life’s problems. Transcendental Meditation™ would help with:
- Lower Stress – People who meditate appear to have lower stress and lower concentrations of cortisol (a hormone associated with stress). Me? Sometimes when I try to meditate it stresses me out because I’m unsure if I’m doing it right, so I focus on that instead of meditating and pretty soon I’m wondering if I’ll have enough money when I’m 80 to parachute into the Super Bowl® and . . .
- More Work Output – Some study said that employees that meditate get more work done. I’m pretty sure that if my boss walks by my desk and sees me staring into a blank computer monitor and repeatedly saying “ohmmmmmmmm” he will either assume I’m measuring electronic resistance in my mind, or, more likely, he’ll think I’m off my rocker and rush to fire me before I can charge the company insurance a lot of money for treatment of whatever makes me stare at my monitor and say “ohmmmmmmm” again and again.
- Lower Blood Pressure – I thought I needed blood pressure? Oh, not the kind that causes blood to ooze out of my pores like sweat? Got it. I think this is probably compatible with the whole Lower Stress thing.
- Lower Risk of Heart Disease – If true, probably tied back to 1. and 3., above. Since heart disease sounds pretty bad, I’d probably like to avoid that.
- ADHD Treatment – Is ADHD made up? I don’t seem to recall this even existing when I was a kid – it was called, “being a kid.” And you didn’t get classified narcotics for it. You got a pile of wood to move and split and haul. That typically un-deficited my attention and took all the energy I had stored up for hyperactivity away. Move four tons of wood with a wheelbarrow? Yeah, you’re not going to bug Mom to the point she wants to give you psychoactive drugs. But apparently meditation works to help, too.
- Better Home Life – Yes, if you’re not a raging jerk from stress from work, that might help your home life. Or not. Raging jerks seem to do okay, so don’t sell that short.
- Increased Intelligence – Unlikely. If you’re reading this blog, you’re already growing your IQ by 3 to 6 points . . . per hour. If meditation increases your IQ? Your head will explode.
- Ability to Smoke Weed Like the Beatles – Minus the money and the freedom from repercussions. Oh, wait, I’m describing most everyone. No meditation required.
- Finding Chicks Like Yoko – How is this an advantage?
- Weight Loss – Yeah, most everyone wants to be skinnier. Except Gary Busey, who just wants to be a fried chicken. Not eat it, be it.
- Growing Younger – Apparently (he said skeptically), a 55 year old that meditates regularly has the body of a 43 year old. Probably buried in his crawl space, right? But here I think that there might be a correlation with the type of personality that has sufficient discipline to meditate regularly and not get side-tracked, rather than the meditation itself?
- Shinier Teeth – I made that one up. But, why not?
That sounds pretty good. So why don’t people meditate more?
Well, there are some potential risks to meditation, namely a risk to your ego. I’m not making this up. Think about the process of meditation – it ends up bringing clarity and reflection on the way the world is, and, potentially, can strip away many of the constructs that we create in our day to day life.
And that is dangerous.
I had a boss that went to a leadership seminar – but this was an intensive leadership seminar, 12-14 hours a day, meant to rip the illusions about your life right up and out of your nostrils. The theory was that this will allow you to take the risks and live your life unafraid. Turns out that many people have built their entire life on illusions – and ripping those illusions out through your nostrils is painful. Especially if you have to confront that you might be the cause of every problem you have, every repressed emotion, and that is dangerous. According to my boss, one of these Fortune® 500 executives who had paid $25,000 for this course tried to kill himself due to guilt he felt after his illusions were pulled away. (This is also why you DON’T TAKE my blog as ADVICE!)
Psychology Today (also a dubious publication) indicated that meditation can also lead to depersonalization, psychosis, anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and dating Yoko Ono. They also indicated that those who had previous trauma could also be . . . dare I say . . . triggered by meditation.
Buddhist meditation was designed not to make us happier, but to radically change our sense of self and perception of the world. Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that some will experience negative effects such as dissociation, anxiety and depression.
– Psychologists Miguel Farias and Catherine Wilkolm
I have been attempting to meditate, in my own fashion. My best success has been while I’m off, alone, floating in the Wilder Family hot tub (LINK). I’ll sit there, alone, focusing on breathing, and then . . . wake up half an hour later. I know that the instruction manual says never fall asleep in a hot tub, but I’m generally refreshed and have a pretty positive outlook when I wake up. And Yoko Ono is safely far away in New York, living on John Lennon’s massive pile of money.
Also, I’ve learned to think, when I meditate, that I might be good at Kung Fu. And levitating. And . . . being able to grow my fingernails . . . really fast!