Meditation as a Screen Saver

the title of this post wants to get your attention. But wait, there is some truth in it for some of us …

(wikimedia commons)

(wikimedia commons: This work was created by Tevaprapas.)

I’m not a good meditator. In fact, i have no cushion and barely ever sat on one. If I take the time to just meditate, I use a comfortable chair. It keeps my back straight. I could sit in it for hours, although I barely ever meditated longer than 30 minutes.

I see meditation as some background process. In fact, it should be something comparable to a power management in a laptop. Definitely not a screen saver. They use more energy, than when your computer is working for you.

The purpose for beginners of sitting in meditation, is to learn to listen and observe. To listen to our brain, and to observe our mind. We have to learn that there are many things going on in this brain. Processes of the mind, processes of perception, spiritual processes, emotional processes, body processes.

It’s easy to listen to our body. Now and then it will rumble inside and if we put our attention to it, we hear and see the body breath. If we pay even more attention we can also hear our own heart beat.

The same way, we can use a part of our mind to observe our emotions, our intuition and mind itself. Observing mind is not too difficult. Listening will reveal that mind is a sportscaster, a commenter, an opinionator, an interpreter, …

But observing alone is not enough.

After meditation, we should slowly digest what we have observed. We could determine what is going on, reason about it, but in the end we should realize that this mind of ours is always busy, and most of the time with really useless things.

So now here comes the analogy. Your laptop can observe itself. It can spend 1 second every minute to check which processes are running and how much energy they are using. It can make statistics and logs for years. But the only result of logging your processes as a computer, is an extra process that takes also energy and time. If you put the laptop off when you are not using it, you really save energy. If you only meditate on your cushion, for years, why not just go to bed and sleep. You’ll really do your brain a favour, and probably live a bit longer.

Meditation is not useful if its insights are not applied to our lives.

What does power management do in a computer? It looks whether some processes are not strictly necessary and it will give them less time, and consequently less energy. It might even shut down certain processes, and it might throttle down the processor speed.

What most people are asked to do when they are introduced to calm abiding meditation, is to learn to listen to the mind.

In a later phase they are asked to interpret it. And this interpretation could lead to a throttling down of certain processes in the mind in our daily lives. Interpretation could be based on some of the following questions: What is the purpose of most thoughts? What is the purpose of opinion? Why judge somebody’s clothes. Why reason round and round in circles untill you suspect person X of bad behaviour?
For the more advanced there is the observation of emotions. Why did I get angry. What did really happen. Did I not misinterpret and make a scene out of it?

And the third step is to do something about it …

Now meditation is happening permanently. In stead of analysing the past, it becomes present: what a silly thought my brain comes up with. I wonder why I have this opinion right now. Oh My, I’m getting angry. And so finally this background process tries to reprogram the self.

So that cushion … use it, but don’t stop there.

It makes no sense to read about healthy nutrition, without thinking about your own nutritional balance, and if necessary, adapt it. Many people meditate daily, as if they would read this book about vitamins daily, then wonder how beautiful this human body really is, close the book and visit a fast-food restaurant.

You could play this computer game that is the opposite of Grand-Theft-Auto, and that awards you points for driving according to all traffic regulations. You could become a real champion in it. But when driving to your work you forget this game and behave like a pig, and forget everything that this beautiful game taught you.

Meditation on the cushion is a bit like that computer game.
Awareness of what you are doing is the reality of driving safely to work, every day, respecting the other participants in traffic.

Okay, I made my point. But the analogy is not perfect!

If you play this safe-drive game daily, unconsciously, you’ll have more attention for safety on the road. If you use that cushion daily, your subconscious will do a lot of work too. And you will change regardless.

However, if you consciously apply what you learn from those daily 15 minutes, as a permanent observer of awareness in your life, the effect will be a lot more powerful.

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25 thoughts on “Meditation as a Screen Saver

  1. I have read and liked this post before, but did not comment on it at the time.
    An analogy: when I was programming, I found that by writing a program I could get it to run and do what it needed to do. We had a program that would run between 6-9 hours each night, often carrying over into the day hours – making reports late.
    I “meditated” on that program often and asked to rewrite it. After a hard 3 days of solid work on it, the program did more than it had ever done and it ran for about 45 minutes a night.
    I applied what I learned and it helped greatly.
    Scott

  2. Wanted you to know just how much I appreciate your stopping by my blog and looking/liking photos. But even more importantly, wanted you to know how much this post has helped me accept all the self-critical thoughts as some sort of purification process that comes out of meditation. Years of therapy couldn’t stop them– nothing can. Now I can see maybe I can learn from them if I take them as lessons and stop freaking out about their insistence. So thank you!

  3. Excellent . . Been working on mindfulness for 6 months and I can feel the difference in my daily life. I like sitting quietly with myself, if not meditating as such… It works!
    Thank you for this

  4. Sitting crossed legged is not a prerequisite for successful meditation. This style would have developed from Eastern culture and is easy in those parts of the world where the human physiology allows for comfort in this position – a position freely used in the Eastern lifestyle. You may recall, if you have had a peep at it, that the meditational position I used and recommended* is for a sitting position.
    * https://sites.google.com/site/themilkiswhitethebook/home [and refer to the site plan]
    P.S. For any one who may find it interesting my usual period of meditation was 30 minutes with 2 hours on one occasion!

  5. I like the laptop analogy 🙂 And you’re so right ~ our meditation break is much longer than the time we give ourselves for formal practice, so we need to bring whatever understanding we’ve found there into our daily lives. Otherwise, what’s the point?!
    nb. As stated above, how long do ripples take to become waves? Meditation’s a life’s work isn’t it.

    • It never ends, but I only started to really see results after many (5) years.
      That doesn’t mean that before that there were no changes. After 5 years I had proof for myself that those changes were profound enough to remain and to deepen.

  6. I absolutely agree! I started yoga and meditation last October, but it took 6 months before what I was doing in my practice was naturally being applied to my every day life. My life changed from what I ate, how I felt, what I thought, how I treated people, and on and on. Now when I speak and offer advice, my family jokes with me before I finish my sentence: “Are you going to tell us to do yoga, Paula?” Hehe!

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