Meditations Vis-à-vis Modernity

Note: I originally wrote this as part of the previous posting, but thought it had strayed sufficiently into a new topic, so here it is!

Being in the moment

We shouldn’t blame only ourselves for being particularly terrible at meditation, and needing a large amount of practice to become adequate and efficient at it. Why is this so? The eastern healing and philosophy traditions speak of the peace from being-in/accepting the moment, and though this might be historically true, it is by no means necessarily true in the wrecked environments of today that only humans dare live in—for some of these environments, even the versatile bacteria avoid them or are killed off swiftly by them, and keeping canaries close by became too depressing a prospect as they would flounder and flop, by neglect if not other evils; (would canaries last long enough through the dystopian supply chain tunnels and holding stations to arrive at your freshly fuming residence?) Most vital things are put on the back burner these days—think about the dried up plants forgotten in some corner—in favor of our spending our time with neatly organized rectangles made up of silicon, copper, glass, and plastics, like I’m doing as I type this.

The question still stands, why are we so terrible at meditating? I think there is something of a survival instinct to not sit and just be in so toxic a place, but to panic a bit and go through the motions of a disturbing yet purposeful, motivating anxiety phase. A meditation session in a common metropolis might go something like this: “focus on the sounds” echoing through the drywall; “breath in deep” the air fuming with wood varnish and furniture fire retardants; “sense your body” sitting in a chair that is bad for your posture; “place your hands on your inhaling belly” malnourished by the sugary yogurt bar; “imagine a solitary place” like being in your car with your windows up. Being in the moment is difficult when it isn’t a moment that deserves any closer attention—escape out of the moment is often the lesser of two evils for the human animal.

The moment that we crave is the one that is constantly changing because we are moving through a subtly evolving context that the total of our human selves were evolved to expect and appreciate (not just a limited portion of our cerebrums). The contextual evolution that we are adapted for has been marred by civilization efforts—artificial balancing techniques that really degrade the whole into segregated islands, treating everything as its own entity, and then seeking to weigh and balance these separate things at the hands of a cold calculating insurer or actuary. We have become normalized to stationary “being” as opposed to migratory “becoming”, and our bodies are rightfully inflamed and will continue to revolt symptomatically, by “catching” diseases like lupus, diabetes, arthritis, until we get up and do something about our not doing something about anything.

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