Meditate not Medicate

If you are a regular attendee at any of my meditation groups or classes you will have discovered that I like to offer insights based on questions that I have found over the years people experience at some of the early stages of meditation practice. Many of the questions I get take the form of:-

I thought if I meditated, I would be able to achieve more
I still don’t have enough time to meditate
I’m as busy as ever -  externally, and even internally (inside my head.)
 On the plus side, people are usually, after a few months reporting:-

  • Greater calm
  • Greater clarity
  • Feeling more centred and focussed
  • Signs of improving mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being

When I was a meditation "newby", I remember once a person who considered themselves a bit of a guru thwacking me with the comment – “stop using meditation as medication” and then walked off and left me to figure it out for myself. But that probably was the best thing he could have done. I was left to figure it out.  For I notice that people are, more and more, demanding quick answers, quick fixes, instant solutions - all to help slow down and calm but which only have the effect of feeding their ego and creating the paradox of making them more frenetic.

I often get asked if there are indeed such things as “quick” meditations! The question itself conveys the sense of irony.

Here are three methods – tip of the tongue technique, the eye of the needle technique and the ten second (or 60 second) technique. But realise that none of them are meditation. They are bandaids. They are the “you” doing the doing rather than creating   s p a c e   and a gentle process for meditation to take over.

TOTT       Tip Of The Tongue involves placing the tip of your tongue gently behind the top two front teeth and holding it there, focussing on it, for about five minutes. Over time you will physiologically feel a sense of calm. But it is NOT in truth meditation.

EOTN       Eye Of the Needle - you gently bring your thumb and middle finger together and focus for five minutes on the space between where they meet (as in focussing on a space no larger than the eye of a needle) – as in TOTT, you will physiologically become calmer. But this still is not true meditation.

10 Second Mini Med – this is lauded on the world wide web by so many as meditation but it is not – it is a form of focussed awareness, usually on breathing. And for 10 seconds. Ten seconds? Please. Ask yourself of what value is ten seconds? Just as a basic question.

We are deluded if we believe this is meditation. I go so far as to say we discredit meditation.

The previous approaches work in some measure to help you calm down; in that sense they will be good for some people some of the time. What I learned after a while when my “guru” gave me the thwack was that what he was really trying to teach and encourage was for me to change my lifestyle based on some rather “simple” questions:-

Why is your life so busy that you need to use meditation as medication?

What is the need that drives you to say “yes” to everything that creates the busyness in your life? Is it a need to be perfect, to try hard, to please others, to be big and strong, or to hurry up? These are all key psychological drivers (in lay terms) and drive us unconsciously to

Ill health and ill-being
And to lives of doing, doing, doing.

 Better to do one thing really well than a hundred things poorly.

Better to offer one person or project your undivided attention, than infect a hundred people with your craziness.

Better to change your life from within, before it changes you from without. And a bandaid only covers the wound!

One of the points of meditation is not to encourage you to increase your insane crazy habits of “doing!”  It is not about improving health to be able to do more. It is – and this is why we preoccupy ourselves in doing and more doing – it is about going within to that still point within where we get to truly know ourselves. And that is what most people resist. If we keep busy enough, distracting ourselves with work and doingness, by fixing ourselves with quick reacting drugs and band aids, we can keep on going and never have to dig deep into our pain and the truth of who we are. We live the life of illusion!

The quick meditations are (in my humble opinion) akin to a doctor  prescribing a 1mg tranquiliser daily when you are stressed when in fact, temporarily, you really need 20mg a day.

So, what will you change so that you have more time to look within, to meet with yourself, to get to know and love yourself – to slow down and, as we often quote in spiritual circles but never seem to truly get it, “smell the roses?” Here is a little prayer to help you. Take it into your next meditation.


Help me remember to take things slowly for spiritual progress requires space AND time for growth. Your nature can never be hastened. So help me go at nature’s pace, and not man’s invention of time. Maturity is not an overnight miracle. Wisdom is not acquired in seconds.  Help me to be productive and keep me from procrastinating or being impatient and rushing ahead too quickly. I will remind myself today not to push myself faster than I need to go. Remind me not to push the river, and instead to let it flow.

As I completed the above, I received the following from a meditation friend in New Zealand, Kip Mazuy.

There are so many ways available to stop us from having to experience life.

And technology is so great, that there is always something to distract you from experiencing this moment.

They even have a television playing while you are waiting in line at the bank. And if not, there is always the cell phone, text messaging, blackberries and video games and now twitter!

The radio playing while you work, the television on and drink in your hand as soon as you come home.

Always something to keep you from having to feel into this moment, always something to distract you from life itself.

What would happen if you were plucked out of society, and left in the middle of nowhere without food, water and shelter.  Without any purpose or distraction.

Suddenly you would be confronted with life itself and no means of escape.

First thing that would happen is you would go nuts.

You would see how addicted you are to distraction.

But eventually, through surrender, you would begin to taste life.

You would begin to experience what it really means to be alive the joy of unconditional, purposeless existence.

Then if you would be put back into society, you would feel the stress and aggression of all of these things put in place to distract you.

You would feel how this constant urge to seek pleasure and resist pain sucks the life out of you.

Somewhere along the line you realized life sometimes hurts and then began the eternal quest to escape it.

But the moment you are willing to experience life with all of it's hurts and insanity, suddenly there is a freedom and sense of peace that you are no longer willing to turn away from.

Just the awareness that you are alive fulfills you.

Because it is in being alive that you experience divinity.

The two are not separate.

This is meditation.