Being (Mindful) and Time

the monkey mind
I started meditating recently as a New Year’s resolution. When I started, I was hoping that it would help me generate better ideas for Get Rich Quick schemes. The image in my mind was of Yoda meditating on a matter, and, with a flash of intuition running through his body, opening his eyes knowing exactly what the proper course of action is. Unfortunately, this has proven to be a wildly inaccurate picture of meditation. However, I still think meditating is a exciting pursuit, and one that I hope to continue.

One cool thing about meditation that I have read about is that it can allow you to develop supernatural powers. There are stories of meditators who can view past and future occurrences, and people whose bodies start generating impossible amounts of heat during meditation. The great thing is that all of the experienced meditators whose advice I have read consider the development of these powers to be nothing more than distractions from the practice of meditation. I like this attitude of regarding one’s own supernatural powers with a slight annoyance.

Meditation has given me an interesting perspective on time. I have been doing baby meditation sessions of around ten minutes. The funny thing is that these ten minutes can feel longer and more substantive than anything else that I do for the rest of the day. Eight hours at work can also feel long, but once the work day is over it leaves absolutely no impression on my mind. It is simply time that has been carved out of my existence, leaving in its place a blank space and some numbers on a biweekly paycheck. I also spend much more than ten minutes a day reading garbage on the internet, but the end result is often the same as the time I spend at work (this time with no paycheck, of course).

All in all, ten minutes of meditation feels as substantive as, perhaps, sitting through a two hour movie. What I’m trying to say is that meditation seems to be a very profitable use of time. At the same time, it casts an uncomfortable light on just how unprofitable the vast majority of my existence is. It is kind of disconcerting when the most meaningful part of my day is sitting with my eyes closed and doing absolutely nothing.

Meditation feels like a constant battle against what is known as the “monkey mind”—that unfocused, squirming movement of a stream of thought chafing under the yoke of imposed discipline. To my knowledge, this is normal and part of the process of training the mind. Weirdly, this process seems to be good for gaining access to new perspectives, or developing half-baked ideas. I often resist the urge to constantly scribble away in a notebook while meditating, although I recently learned of a meditation movement in which this is an encouraged activity. I will have to give it a try…

All things considered, I would give meditation a thumbs up. Pros include low startup cost, gaining credentials to join the Lululemon mafia, and feeling like at least one part of your day wasn’t totally pointless. Cons include the risk of burning the clothes off your body, and arriving at insights too late to save the Jedi Order due to your diminished ability to use the Force.