My dad once said he thought meditation wasn’t the answer for everyone because it’s “escaping reality”. At the time, my ego attachment to my idea of myself as someone who meditates, and someone who could spread the message of the effectiveness of meditation, made my rebuttal a little too forceful.
This can happen when you hold onto an idea about yourself or, perhaps, an object. When someone disagrees with you, you sort of flare up in defence. My line of reasoning at the time moved away from the actual point–I didn’t know enough about the topic to get it across either.
What I can say now with certainty is that mediation is not “escaping”; it is in fact quite the opposite: it is a way of getting in touch with reality. I know the portrayal of mediation in the West can be quite mystical, and of course there are elements of mysticism involved in the practice of meditation, but really, it is more about aligning your mentality with reality.
In the West we also have a tendency for regarding things with a ‘stiff upper lip’. We, men in particular, react to feelings and emotions in quite a negative way, opting to keep ourselves in a sort of indifferent neutrality lest we appear soft. War hardened older generations and this naturally filters down as we learn from our elders.
However, the younger generations, due to our comfort we now have because of the hard work of our parents and grandparents, as well as changes in technology and society, have much more time and freedom to explore the nature of our reality instead of focussing on surviving. The way society is rapidly changing, almost exponentially, means the gap between generations is compounded.
Maybe the younger generations are softer and take things for granted. But we also care more simply because we have the room to. Hence the rise in equal rights movements for the LGBT community, the increasing numbers of veggies and vegans and the support for cleaner energy. My feeling is that empathy is on the rise in young people as a whole despite the way the world appears to be going.
We are more in touch with our feelings, which can seem dramatic and over the top at times admittedly. However, experience intuition tells me that feelings are not there to be pushed away; they are there to be felt, to be experienced. The more you push them away, the stronger they will come back. To truly move through those feelings, you have to be unresistant and allow them to surface. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the less you deny them, the quicker you will be free of them.
So while it might seem like we are weaker, our strength lies in our full acceptance of our emotions, of who we are. It is great that we live in a world where people can truly express themselves, regardless of whether they are gay, straight, bi, or whether they identify as a different gender. Of course, we still have a way to go. But as a generation, we are more tolerant, more open and more accepting of people because we know that they are just like us.
Just like us: a person trying to make sense of themselves in a crazy, impossible world. The more honest we are with our feelings, the more we realise everyone has similar experiences. Meditation turns your focus inwards and makes you be honest with yourself. It shows you the way the world really is in a very personal way and in the process helps you deal with your issues and move forward by staying present and not wishing yourself back to the past or into the future. And the more you can solve your personal problems, the more time, love and openness you have for others.