“Mindfully floating through life in a state of total meditative bliss doesn’t pay my bills.” You’d be surprised how often I meet people who are wondering whether meditation renders them “useless”. These Questions come in all forms: “When I am meditating all the time will I be unable to do anything?” or “will meditation destroy my ambitions and goals?”. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the practice of meditation, particularly when it comes to the vital forces of “being” and “doing”. So I dedicate this reflection to all of us who think that meditation turns us into mindful zombies.
Now – Does Meditation Pay Our Bills?
There are two possible answers – one is negative and one is positive. First the negative one: No, of course meditating doesn’t pay our rent! There are many things we do every day that actually don’t pay the bills. Take sleeping for example, eating, shopping, peeing, showering, enjoying a nice view, going to the movies. It all doesn’t pay our bills! You might have noticed that ambition and the goal-seeking mind dissolve when you are enjoying something deeply – let’s say a dance, a song or great sex. How could you otherwise enjoy these activities when you are seeking something else while participating in them?
Now the positive answer: Yes, Meditation does pay our bills! Of course it does! It pays our bills indirectly! Just like sleep, rest, enjoyment, healthy habits and good company. They are all indirect causes of our success. Financial wealth is merely one tiny facet of success. We will not be good at paying our bills if we are constantly burnt out and miserable, right? How could we actually enjoy a happy life if we are constantly acting out of the fear of not being good enough? How can we enjoy something as long as we constantly pull around our heavy bags of future, past and insatiable needs?
Sitting Around Waiting to Die – The Answer?
We all are busy trying to create the causes of joy and happiness. Sometimes we are doing quite well, sometimes not. We are all looking for paradise, heaven, retirement, promotions and the end of stress, war, struggle and pain. Nobody wants to suffer! Everyone wants to experience “the good stuff”. It is so obvious and yet our actions as a collective human race are causing a lot of trouble. This points to the inability to see clearly which mental states actually cause happiness and which ones suffering.
I agree that if we all rested in the sense of being inactive it would create a bizarre world. Simple logic tells us that inactivity is not the answer! I repeatedly point to the fact that meditation doesn’t render you inactive! I do it again to make sure that it sinks in: Meditation doesn’t render you inactive or unable to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life! We need goals and ambitions. They are a powerful tool that helps us to lead a good life! Yes, I just said that and I mean it!
Goals and Ambitions – Are They Needed Every Single Second?
Imagine that every single human being was constantly (and I really mean non-stop) driven to get something or become someone that is supposed to make them happier. This would logically lead to a life that is devoid of joy because as soon as you get what you’ve been working for you have another ambition right away. No time for joy, no time for rest and sleep, no time to stop and appreciate life… because “it could be better”. That way we would have a world full of people that are completely unable to rest and enjoy. The minds of those who are unable to rest give rise to a world of ever-faster machines and an ever increasing sense of “not-enough”. Say “hi” to anxiety, depression and sleepless nights!
Both aspects, the being and the doing should be kept in balance. In fact the quality of our doing comes from the quality of our being. In my opinion this is enough reason to sit down and meditate a little each day. I am not telling you to sit in bliss 24/7 as it would simply be an impossible, inconvenient and completely useless advise! We are not encouraging some sort or moronic ideal of everyone being blissed out all the time. It appears that the way of human thought often works with extremes. “It’s either 24/7 floating around in useless bliss or grinding and paying bills for the rest of a harsh life”. You can rest assured, an empowered and joyful heart goes a long way!
Meditate – It Is Nice!
Trust me, you will not turn into a vegetable and become unable to think just because you decide to rest the mind for a while and meditate. Your life will not collapse into a black hole of meaninglessness if you relax and let go of restlessness for a little while every day. Cultivating happiness, letting go of stress – it will not render you useless and apathetic. You will still be able to pay your bills. Your problems will not go right away, so you can hang on to them for a while if you would choose to. You will not turn into mindful zombies.
Instead, allow meditation to empower your mind wit joy. Allow this joy to flow into meaningful, constructive and uplifting actions. As you are well rested, happy and nourished by inner stillness, others will find peace and inspiration in your presence. When meditating, especially on deeper levels, we free the world from our problematic and stressful energy for a while. That’s a great and very compassionate act! We even free ourselves from the burden of having to perform, achieve and pay for a little while. A little time dedicated to happiness each day is a great contribution to this world that is drowning in stress. Do you enjoy a little happiness sometimes? Then you will appreciate the gift of meditation!