Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on January 26, 2014

This weeks "Time Magazine" cover story for their February 3, 2014 issue is titled "The Mindful Revolution" and it is all about secular meditation and how mindfulness is finally taking hold in this country.

Of course all of this is easy to foretell since mind training is such a valuable skill that I am certain some years from now proof of mind-training experience and expertise will be as important in your job resume as any college experience. You can do more with it, like: anything. As a former director of a largish company (650 employees), I have hired a lot of people and many college diplomas aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. They guarantee very little. For many jobs I would hire someone with real mind training expertise over college-paper any day.

As for acquiring mind-training skills, I still don't know of any spontaneous way to learn meditation. If there were one, it would probably have already happened to each of us by now. With meditation there is a learning curve and you have to pay to play, as they say. And unlike many things in life, where we can just plop down some cash and take it home, meditation progress depends on our own time and effort, something often in short supply. And most of us don't even know how to do it properly. It is not relaxation therapy as many believe.

The guardians at the threshold of meditation, at least most kinds of meditation that I know of, are concentration and mindfulness skills. To meditate, we have to learn to concentrate and be mindful and, like a great wheel, we have to actually turn the wheel to go anywhere. The meditation learning curve will outlast us and wait as long as we do. In other words, we actually have to learn meditation. If nothing else, I know that much, because I sat and twiddled my thumbs for many years hoping meditation would somehow rub off on me without my sincere effort. No chance of that. The good news is that you may have already learned enough discipline that requires concentration and mindfulness to skip meditation 101 and get right into it.

As for the spiritual aspects of meditation, as the Time Magazine article shows, they are optional. Recently a student asked the Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche I have worked with for the last thirty years whether it was morally wrong to use meditation as part of a sports-training program, like for the Olympics. Rinpoche responded, of course not. Meditation will enhance any kind of discipline. So, if you have to hold your nose because of the spiritual aspects of meditation, don't bother. Just learn it.

As for me, I find the spiritual aspects of meditation more than just helpful, but I also benefit from the sheer secular mindfulness practice of meditation. I use it every day in all that I endeavor. Otherwise I would not write about it as often as I do.

So, the starting point in learning to meditate is the learning of concentration and mindfulness. Either you already have developed some discipline that requires concentration or mindfulness or you have not. If you have a discipline already, just apply the techniques of meditation to that discipline and you can skip over meditation 101 and jump right in. If not, you just have to bite the bullet and learn concentration and how to be mindful. It does not take forever, but actually have to just do it. Trying to do it doesn't do it. Only doing does it. OK, so what exactly do we have to do?

I will try to write more on this topic soon.

[Photo taken yesterday. We have snow, snow, and more snow, and the temperature has plunged and seems to be staying there…. for weeks. It is below zero as I write this and we had about a foot of snow in the last 24-hours or so.]