Meditation – Why Don’t You Practice?
When it comes to meditation, here is a practical and fundamental question: Why don’t you practice?
The bottom line is fundamentally that when you’re practicing it doesn’t seem to be effective. You don’t get the hit.
So if you have a choice between staying home tonight and doing an hour of meditation, or going to see the latest movie, what’s your proclivity going to be, speaking honestly as a human being?
If you have a choice between staying home and meditating, or going out for a drink with your buddies or going to a dance workshop because you get a buzz from the dance … what are you going to choose?
You’re probably going to choose the party or the movie – the entertainment.
Why is that?
Its because of the endorphin rush. You get an immediate endorphin rush off pleasure. Think chocolate, beer, sugar, sex and whatever you want to put in there.
You choose the pleasurable activity because of the immediate endorphin rush. And you tend not to choose the more tedious, in this case meditation or studying or filing your taxes, which don’t give you that endorphin rush.
The Problem with Chasing the Endorphin Rush
But, what is the problem, with the immediate endorphin satisfaction of fulfilling a desire? What’s the downside of an endorphin rush?
It goes away and you’re left with nothing.
So you’ve had the chocolate cake now you’ve got a few more calories and you get the sugar-crash on the other side. Or you come out of the movie and it was a fun time, but it hasn’t done anything for you. You haven’t moved anywhere as a human being. You haven’t evolved.
Now, of course we’re not saying never go to the movies or go for a beer. That’s not the point. Fulfilling your desire for the sheer purpose of fulfilling your desire should be the minority of cases. And your work should be the majority of cases.
Working & Meditation is Fuel for Growth
So you should be working or meditating 90% of the time and pursuing your enjoyments 10% of the time. Not because of some sort of Protestant work ethic, but simply because the 90% of the time that you’re working is actually producing a better field/state for you to live in than the satisfaction of your desire.
People who are most content most of the time are people who love their work. And so of course as we’ve said before your work should be your main path of meditation.
Meditation Practice – You Feel Good Afterwards
Lets come back to the theme of meditation, and practice itself. We think you’ll find that in most cases when you’re meditating you don’t feel like you’re getting any particular result. Most of the time when you’re actually doing the practice nothing much seems to be happening. Yet I think you’ll also find that when you get up from the meditation you feel very good.
In meditation the discipline is concentration and calm. Which means that when the disturbing emotions arise or the irritating opinions or views come up, you have to cut them off. And you cut them off with the tool of the practice. In this case say mantra, visualization, or the breath. Whichever tool you happen to be using.
And in the process of doing that it’s a bit of a struggle. Meditation now becomes kind of work. And with that work gradually your muscles get stronger and your concentration gets better and your calm gets deeper and then you get more and more moments of bliss and more and more moments of clarity. And this reaches out and touches the rest of your life. So when you get up from the meditation then it touches the rest of your life.
Do you feel that way when you come out of a dinner party or movie? Maybe for a few minutes, but it’s the pleasure you’re feeding off of, not the growth principle; unless you’ve had a dinner party that’s been particularly growth stimulating.
Putting Pleasure Where it Belongs, for Sustainable Growth of Human Consciousness
If you want sustainable growth, if you want to be a sustainable human consciousness you have to put pleasure where it belongs – on the back burner, 10% of the time, as a medicine. Pleasure should be a medicine, not a lifestyle. Pleasure should be a place where you go to reward yourself or to take a break from work, in order to let the muscles you’ve developed while working catch up to your effort.
We practice meditation six days a week for the same reason. We need that seventh day for the muscles of the meditation mind to catch up to the work. This is a very important point.
The sense fulfillment, the sensory door fulfillment, the fulfillment of the pleasure principle is a dead end. And we have to reiterate – we don’t mean that as a moralistic statement. It’s a statement about the nature of the human mind and spirit.
Fulfilling or satisfying pleasure is a dead end. It doesn’t take you anywhere, except a little endorphin rush and a little relaxation, which is the point of pleasure. The point of pleasure is to produce endorphins and to give you some relaxation, so that you can go back to your work & meditation revitalized, recharged and hopefully re-stimulated. The endorphins create the space for you to approach the work again in a fresh way.
Doug Duncan & Catherine Pawasarat are modern day teachers of transcendence. Their work with students draws upon Buddhist, Western Mysteries, modern psychology and other traditions.
If you found this article helpful, consider sharing your gratitude by making a gift of Dana to the Teachers. With dana practice, an ancient form of the gift economy, the giver benefits most.
If you would like to receive updates and new posts, sign up to the Planet Dharma mailing list. We are committed to being kind to your inbox.