“The thing about meditation is…you become more and more you.” -David Lynch
Meditation is unnatural. Animals don’t do it, human babies certainly don’t do it instinctively. Yet, it is one of the most important practices in the modern world. This is not because of what meditation does, but because of what it un-does (that’s a word, right?).
Yes, Let Me Help You With That!
I’ve written a few times on this blog about how it seems there are as many opinions for how to live as there are people. Between the various philosophers, psychologists, spiritual gurus and priests, it seems everyone has an opinion on what it means to live a good life. On any given day, you will likely receive conscious and subconscious advice from dozens of sources, whether it’s ads telling you how to dress, or a spiritual leader telling you how to pray.
This is why meditation exists. Animals don’t need to meditate because they simply are. They hunt, they make nests, they protect (or eat) their young. In the majority of the animal kingdom, there is no such thing as self-consciousness. Being overwhelmed by the bombardment of information and advice is a human function. Meditation then, is the process of shutting out the noise and being able to simply be, just as a child is.
Beyond Self-Help Exists Self-Trust
While conversation or influence skills can help you close deals or get a better job, self-trust must still be the dominant force. If you do not trust yourself while using some rapport building technique, it will be obvious in the interaction, and another hundred books or dozen live seminars will simply perpetuate the problem. You may practice such techniques the way a basketball player practices throwing balls into the net. If the basketball player didn’t trust in the skills he built, and tried to consciously throw a ball into a net at game time, he would likely never score a single point.
In this way, too much conscious effort comes from too much self-consciousness. Am I doing this right? Should I have practiced more? If instead of asking these questions, you simply trusted you’ll do the best you can, you’d be able to recognize if you did something wrong and adjust for next time. Meditation then is a practice to cut out the middle-man which asks “how am I doing while doing the thing” and instead simply lets you do the thing.
Finding Peace In Non-Duality
It’s possible to hold both the thought “Should I have practiced more?” and “I’m ready for this.” at the same time. Meditation practice teaches self-trust through allowing whatever thoughts that arise to arise without resistance. Noticing your self-doubt puts you in the seat of the observer, you start to recognize that if you can see the self-doubt, it is separate from you. You start to notice that a part of you is always unaffected, no matter what goes on externally.
It’s possible to live as the “ego self” who has worries and insecurities and the “observer self” who isn’t concerned, at the same time. By recognizing that you are more than what you are currently observing, you start to develop a real self-trust. You can start to feel whole because you are no longer branding the “ego self” as something separate from you.
Through compassion and acceptance of this “ego self”, it becomes easier to truly know, love and trust yourself.