Is Meditation Necessary?

In a world that is locked in on reaching the pinnacle of perfection in the race toward the trifecta of Bigger, Better, and Faster, we have all too soon forgotten the necessary, three-leaf clover of Restoration, Refreshment, and Meditation. Contrary to what those of other mental persuasions sometimes preach, motion does not equal productivity, nor does stillness equal laziness or uselessness. Yet to say that all motion is useless–and all stillness productive–is equally false, and adapting either extreme is a sign of either ignorance or mental slackness.

Since the 1850’s, technology has become an increasingly large part of our daily lives. In the present, it would be a challenge to make it through even one day without using some sort of technology. Many different tech devices claim to help their users make better use of time and accomplish more than before. But do these claims hold up, or does technology just provide another layer of things about which to worry? More on that later.

For now, let’s focus on the time-saving aspect of these claims. As an additional focus for our discussion, let’s limit our observations to cell phones, computer and television, and automobiles. is true with most other man-made items, technological devices have tremendous potential for good (in this case, saving time) and evil (wasting time). How the user utilizes the device will determine whether the effect is good or ill.

The benefit of time-saving devices is that they can free up more time to do other, more important tasks. One danger lies in the potential for these devices to become a time-sink, an end in themselves, rather than a means to an end, as designed. Then again, one must ask, what exactly is the end being sought? Diversion? Distraction? Knowledge? Information? Another danger is in mistaking time spent glued to the screen or behind the wheel as relaxation, restoration, or (worst of all) meditation. Let’s not seek to put a good face on it: meditation is as unlikely to take place while the user is glued to a screen flashing constantly changing images, as it is if the subject is hurtling down the road at 70 miles per hour. Am I saying that one cannot have productive and useful thoughts while driving? On the contrary, I have found that some of my more profound “Aha!” moments have come while driving. What I am stating here is that such time is not sufficient of itself.

A fair question at this point would be, “What do you consider meditation?” By using the above term, I do not refer to the so-called “transcendental” variation practiced by various Far Eastern religions, and which involves the clearing of all thoughts from the mind. “Meditation” is a time set apart to lay aside all distractions, to sit down and be still,  and to focus the mind on a given line of thought. It is possible to meditate while walking, but the central idea is mental concentration on a single subject. This is what I mean when I use the word “meditation.”

History is replete with accounts of people who learned the power of a pause to rest and recuperate, but one of the more amazing (indeed, miraculous) examples is found in the Bible, in the book of First Kings. Do you know the story to which I refer? If not, we will look into it next week as we begin to study the lives of people from the past who learned the power of a refreshing pause.

Until then, feel free to share. What are some of your favorite places for contemplative thinking? Do you prefer a perfectly quiet atmosphere? If not, what is your chosen “background noise”?

Something to think about,

David

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