The Real Benefit of Meditation

At some point during the strange confluence of “self improvement” ideas of the 20th and 21st centuries, Zen became tied in with the cult of productivity. Meditation is often sold as a cure to the modern worker’s ailments— lack of focus, lack of creativity, lack of organization. The clarity and calmness that one achieves during meditation has many benefits. Basic professional or creative benefits are merely surface-level symptoms of the deeper changes that occur in the mind of the person who meditates every day.

These benefits are also significantly diminished when one thinks about them too much. This is the paradoxical beauty of spiritual practice. It is useful but only when you detach yourself from its usefulness. True success comes when you are too focused on living mindfully to worry about it.

Meditation is an easy sell to companies and workers because it makes you a better person. That’s always an easy sell. But it improves you through detaching you from desires, attachments, and the need to improve. In accepting yourself as you are without all the falsities and delusions, you transcend your prior capabilities. In detaching from notions of superiority, you become superior.

Let me implore you to stop practicing spirituality as a way towards productivity or as a means to an end. The whole point is that it is a means to itself. In doing it for its own sake, you learn to live for its own sake. This makes life more vibrant, reduces clinging and neediness, and lets you see things more clearly. It doesn’t inherently make you more productive. Why would anyone care about that alone?

The point is to be mindful, focused, grateful and deliberate. Live through each moment fully. If you’re working, be fully working. If you’re playing, be fully playing. Listen closely. Watch closely. Live as lucidly as possible. This is the gift of meditation.

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