Visit the fashionable neighbourhoods of New York, London or Paris and you are sure to see the obvious hotspots… a quirky coffee shop, a farmers market, a spinning club. But the last few years have seen a new health trend emerge in cities all over the world. Meditation is hip, and there are studios popping up everywhere, offering respite from the bustling streets and crazy lives of people all over the globe. According to a recent survey by magazine Psychology Today, there are now 10 million people practicing some form of meditation daily, and that’s just in the US. A ritual once only associated with deeply spiritual and religious practices is now becoming universal. Mainstream!
But why? Apart from the fact that it’s a cool thing to tell your friends, what are the real benefits of meditation?
This was one of the first questions we addressed on the work/study program here at Wandering Dao. Two weeks ago we all arrived from different parts of the globe to start a 100 day journey into Qi Gong and Daoism. During that time we would be practicing sitting meditation for 2 hours everyday. For 100 days. 2 hours of sitting still. What a crazy thing to do! What possible reasons are there for putting yourself through such a thing?
Well, we had a variety of answers. Some of us wanted to quieten hyperactive minds. Some of us wanted to know ourselves better. Others were seeking an increased awareness of life. But we all had one thing in common. We all came from the society of the ‘quick fix’.
In our world things are moving so fast! Literally at the click of a button. And in order to keep up with the pace we tend to look for the quickest solutions to our problems. But quite often, they are not really solutions at all. Maybe you feel tired, but there is no time for a nap. There are deadlines to be met and children to be fed. So you have a quick coffee, and it does the job, you feel much better… for an hour or so. Then the crash kicks in and you feel like there’s 100 small elephants dancing in your head.
The problem with these ‘quick fixes’ is they don’t allow us the time to feel, they merely provide us with a way to stop the feeling. The coffee makes you stop feeling tired, it doesn’t give you the space to understand or let go of your tiredness. As Master Daniel Li Ox says, “Fatigue is something that can stick to you, something you can hold. But it is also something that you can let go”.
And it is this process of feeling and letting go that is at the heart of why we meditate. According to Daoist philosophy, everything in the universe has two poles. From the tiniest cells to the Earth itself. A North and a South if you like. And it is through these poles that we tune into the matrix of life. The constant give and take movement of energy from both Heaven and Earth that is happening all around, and also inside us. It is called the Torus and it applies to every living thing. Including you! You are also a part of this cycle. Imagine yourself surrounded by a great big donut of energy that is entering and exiting through both the Baihui point at the crown of your head and the Huiyin point at the perineum. We are constantly giving and receiving energy (or qi) this way. Too often however, problems occur. Blocks, like big dams in our bodies, stop the flow of energy and we are no longer able to give back to the cycle.
These blocks are the tensions we hold within ourselves. They may represent as physical tensions, or they may be emotional. Often they are both, as our physical pains generally find there roots in emotional trauma. So the block may be a shoulder pain, or a stomach pain or a feeling of anger. These blocks or tensions interfere with the flow of the matrix. We keep receiving energy, but we are no longer giving anything back because our tension won’t allow us. So the process comes to a halt. We can’t receive any more until we let something go, the channel is full. How can you fill something that is already full? You can’t.
Which brings us to the fundamental reason for meditation. Removing the blocks. Making some space. Letting go of the tensions and opening up to new energy. That is why people all round the globe are tuning into this craze, and that is why the students here at Wandering Dao traveled 1000’s of miles to spend 100 days sitting still. It feels so good to let go!
When we let go, we rid ourselves of stagnant energy. A bit like releasing writer’s block. If we can open up to new energy, we can begin to unlock the true strength of our physical, emotional and creative power, and allow our natural capabilities to flourish.
Meditation may seem like a fad right now, but it’s actually an ancient resource that we are only just learning to utilise. And given the hectic reality of many people’s lives today, it’s popularity couldn’t come at a better time. So this might just be one craze worth opening up to. Meditation’s cool, spread the word.
Meditation classes are available at Wandering Dao every day. Contact us for more info