Help! Meditation Madness

Help! Meditation Madness

Waiting by a window
Feeling down and blue
All because I haven’t heard from you . . .
And then my mama said . . .


“How are you going to get respect—when you haven’t begun to meditate yet!”

Stalking you, the meditation evangelists apparently have incarnated everywhere. At the workplace, boardroom, yoga class, university campus, family get-together, and even church event—the meditation crusaders are ready to redeem you.

Late at night, while you’re sleeping, the mindfulness priests come creeping . . .

Concentrate on a candle flame.

Stare at a wall.

Visualise the greatest light and the darkest night.

Make up a sound and repeat it attentively twenty minutes, twice daily: “Coca-Pepsi, Coca-Pepsi.”

Focus upon dissolving your mind.

Melt away into the null and void.

What—uninterested? Not even curious? Which one are you—Neanderthal or flat-earther?

The meditation boom, in all its flavours, has mushroomed throughout the First World. Even at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the attending C.E.O. mighty grey-hairs and global financial elites could opt for an early morning guided meditation session.

The prime motivator for the meditation and mindfulness upsurge is obvious: stress overload—at home, on the job, in our personal affairs. The global economic uncertainty drags on while anxiety at the workplace intensifies yearly. For both managers and their staff, the nonstop pressure mounts: produce profit or get out.

Seeking relief through relationships? Yes, social bonding has traditionally served as the natural balm for the wounded human psyche. But now it offers little of the old-fashioned duration of solace and support. Tension, fear, and competitiveness pervade friendships and even romance. Whom can you depend on for long?


Interviewing researchers, teachers, and practitioners of meditation will provide you heaps of attractive reasons why the fad should sweep you away. Improved relaxation, health, productivity, and, yes, that required selling point—better sex—what stressed-to-the-max contemporary human can refuse?

But the non-believers, the skeptics, are striking back. They retort that none of the touted benefits are unique to meditation. Indeed, these infidels assert that any benefit a meditation practice bestows, you can score through other, quite ordinary activities.

For example, last year the scientific publication JAMA Internal Medicine analysed forty-seven trials of various meditation practices and concluded: “We found no evidence that meditation programs were better than any active treatment (i.e., drugs, exercise and other behavioral therapies).”

We all certainly want to reduce stress. Fine, say the scientific naysayers. Laboratory researchers of meditation’s effects agree that indeed it can help alleviate anxiety— to some degree. But, they point out, so can pharmaceuticals, sleep, and exercise.

And as the popular health website duly recommends, when anxiety abounds, you can always reach for “old faithful”—that usual physical tonic, sex. Somehow, some way, squeeze out a few precious minutes of meaning, purpose, and peace in life.

What about mindfulness training? If not a ten-day silent retreat, then, at least, give a weekend version a go? No talking allowed—just focus on your incoming and outgoing breath. Hour after hour, all day, just observe the fluctuations in your mind. Then work hard to separate actual perceptions from the extraneous colouring the mind adds to them. Wish and hope for the mind to empty. The ultimate goal? Become . . . the Great Nothingness?

The everyday reality is that everyone is meditating on something. Money, lust, successes, setbacks, the share market, real estate, greed, envy, prices—something is always on the mind. Therefore, in sorting through our life, the real culprit we need to finger is meditation on matter.

Whether candle, wall, breath, body, or mind, our focusing on matter, its many material arrangements and its occupations, cannot help us. Where are the meditation experts who get that right? Truly, people should be fully sceptical about the usual blind alleys presented as meditation.


The genuine transcendental process of meditation, as delineated in Bhagavad-gita and its allied texts—authoritative and time-tested—begins with focusing on you as different from your body and mind.

That authentic process then culminates in focusing on your identity as a nonmaterial entity, a spiritual part of the supreme spiritual whole. Just as we can’t separate the sunbeam from the sun, similarly we, as energy, cannot be separated from the supreme energetic source.

Krishna, also known as Yogeshvara, the ultimate master of the yoga and meditation system, is described in the classic yoga texts as life’s ultimate goal. In Bhagavad- gita, Krishna’s explanations cut to the root of our existential crisis, the original cause of our chronic stress, lifetime after lifetime:

“You living entities are certainly my spiritual parts, always, eternally. You belong to me, but you have become trapped and embedded in the temporary material atmosphere; therefore you are stressed and struggling in a temporary body, with temporary senses, including the mind.” (15.7)

Being spiritual particles of Krishna means that we share all his qualities, but to a tiny degree, just as an ocean drop shares the ocean’s saltiness, but only minutely.

Because we are spiritually so small, we become bewildered by the energy of illusion and then mistakenly conclude that we cannot meditate on Krishna because he has a name, form, qualities and activities. We rush to the judgement that anything with personal characteristics must be material.

Although everyone is meditating on something, material or not, the pinnacle of the spiritual meditation system is to fix the mind on the all-spiritual name, form, qualities, and activities of Krishna.

Here’s a priceless gem of information: The incentive for understanding the science of Krishna is beyond comparison. As Krishna guarantees in Bhagavad-gita (4.9):

“Whoever correctly comprehends the transcendental nature of my appearance and my activities in this world does not, upon departing the body, take another birth in this material world. Instead, such a perfect meditator attains my eternal abode.”

The more we discover the actual goal of meditation, the more successful and progressive our lifestyle becomes.

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About Author

Devamrita Swami

Devamrita Swami

Devamrita Swami is an international speaker, author, Yale graduate, and monk. Travelling extensively on every continent of the planet, he has been sharing the path of bhakti-yoga with others for over 40 years. He advocates spiritually based economics, sustainability, and environmentalism. When he is not travelling, he calls New Zealand home.

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