Does meditation get you past “success” and “failure”?
Why logotherapy might matter more
In any time, but especially in one of technology-induced stress, the mind is the best friend and ally our body can have. It’s not only a source of physical, mental and spiritual energy, but our state of mind — our courage and hope, or lack of them —has been proved to have a direct influence on the state of immunity of our body. To help burnout entrepreneurs to train their mind in their pursuit of success, Silicon Valley were the first to found the shortcut to one’s mind potential in the ‘mindfulness for a modern age.’
Meditation has become the most popular habit among entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, a fun practice,’a daily vacation for your mind’. Gaining razor-sharp focus and clarity in the face of intense emotions, not being inhibited by thoughts in the face of fear or conflict have become the ultimate self-helps to get a competitive advantage and an advance in career. You want to develop laser-sharp focus for a clear decision-making? “Quiet your mind”, “Focus your attention inwardly”, “Visualize success”, “Visualize moving with confidence through your day.”
5 minutes daily could bring instant gratifications — efficiency in negogiations, restful sleep, relief of stress, more creativity, clarity from dealing with failure, a break from stressful day, a release of tension, a remedy for procrastination, an easy focus or better productivity during a tough day. Training your mind could be practiced anywhere, at home, on the go, on the commute, when walking, doing chores, at work, when taking a break.
Still, entrepreneurs don’t seem to be more compassionate today and definitely not happier.
To the 30% of all entrepreneurs who experience depression and to the 27% of them who fight with anxiety, according to a study by Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, meditation is powerless. Business people fighting with feelings of despair might have a hard time listening to messages like ‘Allow everything to be as it is’ or ‘welcome the pain.’ If anything, meditating while being depressed could result in even more hopelessness and negativity.
That’s not to say meditation is not good for your health and wellness, its benefits are scientifically proved. But in the Silicon Valley narrative, too much focused on the ‘how’, concentration and calm are being reached as fast as gulping down a pizza. People are promised welness, and when they don’t get it, they feel frustrated and powerless. What we forgot in our drive to commercialize mindfulness is that it was created out of a need for spiritual growth, “for success, like happiness, cannot be pursued but must ensue. It will only happen when we work passionately, without expecting anything in return, for a cause greater than ourselves.
When meditation doesn’t work, it might also be because we skipped an indispensable step in our journey towards mindfulness: finding our meaning.
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. […] Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life” — Neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl, talking about his theory, logotherapy, in his book “Man’s search for meaning”.
Logotherapy, ‘the therapy through meaning’, is the only step before meditation.
Viktor E. Frankl validated the effectiveness of logotherapy, his ‘therapy through meaning’, in 4 concentration camps and three years of Holocaust. He survived, and he gives all the credit to logotherapy, what greater test than that?
“This striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man. Instead of treating people for depression, It’s wiser to pilot the patient through his existential crises of growth and development.”
Frankl believed one could find meaning in life in one of these three ways: meaning in what we do or create, meaning in what we experience and who we love, or meaning in the attitude we take when faced with unavoidable suffering.
How does logotherapy work? How to discover one’s purpose, a purpose that is destined to change frequently? A method often used by logotherapists is the Socratic dialogue, guiding people by questioning and making them aware of the possibilities to find and the freedom to fulfill meaning in their lives.
“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life — daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. […] Thus, logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence.
Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
Before the how comes the why. The spiritual revival of the business world, filling its void of compassion, resides not in meditation (learning to cope with the How), but in the discovery of our lives’ meaning (the Why). That is the proper way to helping the mind help us.
Logotherapy sessions should be the foundation on which any meditation app is built. Because “he who has a why to live for can bear almost any how” as Friedrich Nietzsche so rightly said.
Google’s Head of Mindfulness could use a Head of Meaningfulness partner.
Thank you for reading!