Meditation. Is it just a buzzword that is thrown around in corporate environments in a thinly veiled attempt to 'get with the times' and stay appealing to new swathes of graduates? Or, is there substance behind the business branding? Is it mostly myth or mostly magic?
Nestled comfortably on your newly purchased zafu, relaxing music gently spilling out of your speakers, deep breaths focussed upon — you must seem the perfect picture of serenity. Transcendent calm surrounds you. Life vibrates slowly. But surely. Internally, however, you're still stressed.
Am I sitting correctly? Am I breathing correctly? Am I doing it how everyone else does? Am I having the right thoughts? Am I meant to be having these thoughts? Am I failing?
Countless questions dance menacingly in your mind. The problem is that you've been sold on the myth. Business logos related to Headspace — accompanied by the words of endorsement from Emma Watson — are all you can think of. Such companies have been so successful in establishing a brand that they have effectively made you associate sitting still with them. They have patented a state of being.
The magic, I hear you ask: is it even there? Sadly, there is no clear-cut answer. Meditation and mindfulness are practices that are thousands of years old. Deeply rooted in religious traditions, the commercialised content we have been exposed to in the Western world is essentially a sellable form of appropriation.
That isn't to say that Westerners can't practice meditation. Issues begin to emerge when meditation is wrapped in a cloak of exoticism and sold in this light. Foreign things are viewed as quirky, uncivilised diversions instead of integral, respected objects or practices.
So, to answer the question: yes, magic slumbers somewhere. Despite this, you must remain vigilant in subscribing to the myth that surrounds it all. Companies prey on the vulnerable. A depressing day will always find relief in an advertisement that promises happiness from sitting still for 10 minutes. We must realise that depressing days will continue to come, no matter how many minutes spent on a pillow and no matter how empty our wallets. We must find new ways of dealing with negative emotions that aren't reliant on companies' propaganda. We've got to get back to the roots of things.
Meditation may be wrapped in plastic packaging so tight that it's hard to imagine it breathing outside of its confines. Small steps. Forever take small steps. There — that’s where a rhythmic calm is to be found.
22 Mar 2021