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Recently, I have been reflecting on the value that meditation can offer outside of formal practice and how readily available such benefits are. While the fruits of an ongoing practice can be abundant, a novice practitioner may not understand how sitting quietly and watching the mind could produce any benefit in the real world. …


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Man, in order to escape his conflicts, has invented many forms of meditation. These have been based on desire, will and the urge for achievement, and imply conflict and a struggle to arrive. This conscious, deliberate striving is always within the limits of a conditioned mind and in this there is no freedom. All effort to meditate is the denial of meditation.

– J. Krishnamurti

Superficially, meditation seems to be one of the most meaningless practices a person can engage in. The world is full of enough activities, entertainment, and other people to keep our minds occupied for a lifetime. Such a practice seems to contradict what it means to be a social creature while also being in direct opposition to the ‘doing’ that has contributed to much of human progress. So why are so many sitting alone in silence while observing the contents of their inner worlds? A quick Google search will produce an array of blogs and studies touting a wide range of supposed health benefits including, but not limited to, reductions in stress, pain, and depression. However, a meta-analysis out of Johns Hopkins University looking at 47 separate trials on meditation found only low to moderate improvements for these conditions and ‘insufficient evidence of any effect of meditation programs on positive mood, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep, and weight.’ The Buddhists tell us that meditation is necessary in order to attain liberation from suffering and gain insight into the nature of reality but such claims are too esoteric for most. Those considering meditation are left with a dilemma. From the outside meditation seems like a rather boring practice that threatens to rob one of precious Netflix time, from the scientific perspective the benefits are debatable, and the Buddhist reasoning is difficult to swallow as a lay person. And yet modern gurus, Western Buddhists, and self-help aficionados continue to ever more aggressively pound the drum of mindfulness, inviting us to take a seat on the cushion. …


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The Buddha had a scooter. Jesus had a scooter. Even Gandhi was known to tear up the back roads of Gujarat on occasion. Of course none of this is actually true, probably. Though what is undoubtedly true is that some of life’s most profound insights and wisdom come while perched atop two wheels and a tiny motor, preferably with a loved one at the rear. These are some of the lessons I’ve learned while scootering through Southeast Asia for the past several months.

#1 — Life is Best When Chaos and Order are in Harmony

“Chaos is where things are so complex you can’t handle it, and order is when things are so rigid that it’s too restrictive. In between that there’s a place, a place that’s meaningful, where you’re partly stabilized and you’re partly curious. And you’re operating in a manner that increases your scope of knowledge. So you’re inquiring and…

About

Michael Stone

Thoughts and meanderings on Buddhism, meditation, spirituality, and psychedelics for normal people.

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