Why Meditate? A Guide
“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger”– The Buddha
I had to be won over by meditation. When I first considered it I thought it was some hippy bullshit, something mystical and phony that people practiced to sound New Age and unique.
Yet I was wrong.
Meditation is an ancient practice that has been utilized by great men throughout history.
It is the tool you can use to transcend the limitations of the chaotic emotional dimension of life and deeply bond with the still, stoic presence as the watcher of our minds and bodies.
A man isn’t a man until he has learned that either he disciplines himself, or life will discipline him.
Meditation is a practice of defence against this fundamental rule.
It is that which allows you to see beyond the cravings of the mind.
Meditation shows you the stillness of your soul.
It shows you what you really are.
Learning to Meditate
When I first began to try to meditate, I found I would get bored exceptionally quickly.
Years of getting gratification at my fingertips had rotted my soul.
Television, the Internet, drink and drugs, porn, computer games and food all came at a call.
I had no concept of delayed gratification – a concept so important it’s almost holy.
So meditation seemed pointless, even painful, and certainly boring.
Yet, the question struck me one day ‘Is it really me that’s bored or my mind?’
The thought went further: ‘How can I be bored if it is I that wants to meditate?’
This was the first portal through which I could enter.
The thought silenced my mind.
From that moment on, I began to find it fascinating when ‘I’ got bored, as it was clearly a ‘me’ beyond my mind noticing the boredom – and that awareness certainly wasn’t bored, it was just neutral.
Entrenched in ego, pride and a defiant all-or-nothing attitude, I became overconfident and aimed at pure meditation for 30 minutes, looking to find that neutral bliss beyond my boredom.
This was a goal far too high to begin with.
Such unreasonable expectations lead me to get annoyed with myself and I’d spend ‘meditation’ arguing in my own head internally.
‘Why won’t my head shut up?’
‘All I need to do is stop thinking – just stop thinking – stop thinking!’
Such the merry-go-round went.
As spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle points out, ‘not being able to stop thinking is a terrible affliction,’ and boy was I afflicted!
I began to chastise the concept of meditation as BS because I wasn’t ‘enlightened’.
This wasn’t how television, porn and drink worked.
A few clicks of a button, zapper or cash machine and wham! You’re in a new dimension.
Yet therein lay the lesson, meditation is never about doing.
This is such an alien concept to many men.
We have been trained to think and strive for things our whole lives, yet meditation requires the opposite.
It demands a sort of wilful release of all that is, a trust in being itself and a submission to life in all its depth.
Learning Life Lessons
The road of the wise man can never be instantaneous pleasure; that is the way of the immature, the weak, the addicted.
I had learnt, nearly at the cost of my life, that any form of pleasure and security in life that we do not earn in sweat comes back for repayment – and it often wants double.
Spending money frivolously means racking up debt, which demands interest, as well as social and psychological stigma.
Drinking excessively means hangovers, and drinking on top of that means alcohol withdrawal – a fate worse than death.
If a man is to borrow from the future, the present is betrayed.
Like an elastic band it will snap back, brutally confronting you with the cost of ignored reality.
As men desiring growth, integrity and evolution, we simply must lay the foundations for spiritual and emotional peace.
We must strive to earn what we live on, financially, spiritually and emotionally, and rely on no other human being.
Meditation is the glue of such a foundation.
The great psychoanalyst Carl Jung worked with the theory that we must venture into the areas that block, limit and scare us in order develop masculine purpose.
In this empty dark cave – the deep unknown – we will find what we seek.
This is the great mythological tale; from the knight entering the cave to slay the dragon (and win the princess) to Luke Skywalker entering the depths of the Dagobah System (to become a Jedi).
It is a tale that is repeated over and over.
This is a task we all must face as men.
We must face our fears and transcend their limitations.
We will change in this process, but it is the only way.
It is evolution in action.
Meditation is the rock on which we can build the stillness required to objectively observe the depth of being within.
By the paradox of letting go of psychic control, we face the ultimate egoic fear – to die before you die.
This thought sprung on me in my early forays into meditation.
The rabbit hole had opened.
What you are set to gain from meditation is the intuitive understanding that different forces, emotions and capabilities are at play inside you, and these are at odds with each other.
Rather than running from these fears and difficulties, you can learn to watch them non-judgementally as the still spirit beyond physical and psychosocial form comes to the fore.
The purpose of meditation then isn’t to untangle you from such fears but merely free you from the whims of them.
Meditation grants you an awareness beyond to your inner depths, amplifying your rich internal spiritual dimension that is beyond fear itself.
When I meditate today, I still feel the pang of boredom, but instead of seeing that as a problem, I see my impatient ego.
It is my limitations speaking in the eternal depth of life.
That is a wonderful thing to know and be in touch with; I can finally begin to see how my impatience and impulsiveness acts in real time.
From this place, I need not scorn myself or be angered about my boredom – that is not the purpose of meditation.
Meditation is purely to see the false sense of self I’ve mentally created.
In this state of being, we reach a presence with the world.
The place where the past and future lose relevance, hence, we are in a place without anxiety (fear of the future) or depression (obsession with the past).
When you meditate, take the opportunity to breathe deeply in and feel your body from inside out.
As lost men, we have battered our bodies and minds, and meditation offers an opportunity to melt into truth and pure healing.
Read more: Alan Watts’ Insane Guide to Meditation