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WHY IS MEDITATION RELEVANT IN TODAY
Why Is It Relevant in Today’s World?
‘Each morning, the light of the sun dispels the darkness of the night. It makes no difference which part of the world it is shining upon or in which season or year. Similarly, the light of Vipassana dispels the darkness of ignorance and of misery regardless of the time or the place. Thus it is no wonder that the light of Vipassana—the light of wisdom—has proven itself of such relevance to the modern world.’
We are going through turbulent times on many fronts. The novel coronavirus pandemic has taken over not just physically but plagues us mentally as well. If we look at ‘consciousness’ alone, then we realize that something’s gone wrong with the ‘consciousness’ of human beings in general, to have manifested a virus which has forced us to
stay indoors, distance ourselves socially and go through giving up a very basic principle wherein we strive to work, earn money and live life on our own terms for what is ‘our freedom’. Deepak Chopra said on his Instagram handle, ‘To change the printout of the body, you must learn to rewrite the software of the mind’. I would like to extend this by saying, ‘To change the mindsets of people, one must rewrite the software of human consciousness’.
What happened in the US to George Floyd, where police brutality towards a Black man surfaced, resulting in his death, or to Breonna Taylor, who was shot by the police without even reasoning with her or her boyfriend, or giving them a chance to explain themselves? What’s happening around the world with terrorism? These are all signs of the kind of extreme negativity that can take over the human mind. In these cases, human beings have crossed thresholds no sane human would. It could be stemming from racism, depression, judgement, not having the capacity to be kind, whatever. However, on a mass level it permeates all ‘consciousness’ and then boom, we end up with something like a pandemic that makes us question what we have done to destroy the ‘energy’ around us. What we have done to poke a dark hole into the ‘consciousness’ of the earth, so she revolts and forces us to question everything.
Every individual has stresses and strains that their environment enforces on them. This imposes a push and pull of forces within and those outside. The world outside and especially the world today, with social media, holds us under its own trance-like magic. We may have terms to describe our cravings like ambition, goals, needs, desires, etc.,
but these are just terms we use to crave more and more. These are never really quenched and we just want more and more, leading us to frustration and negativity. Vipassana gives us the remedy to have healthy minds and if a bunch of us or the entire society does achieve this, then you can imagine what mass consciousness can do and even affect.
My job in the field I have chosen as my calling in this life—that of a macrobiotic nutritionist/chef—this is what I fill my time up with and it brings me to having complete spiritual and secular freedom. I take it very seriously and with it the role of changing the mindset of my clients who come to me with some ailment: something they soon come to realize they have created themselves on a physical and emotional front. Mental patterns impact your body’s way of functioning, impairing a lot that goes on and then manifests physically. So much so that in my field, a term called ‘brain inflammation’ is very real. This happens when toxins start creating inflammation in the body and also affect brain tissue, leading to many issues, including anxiety, depression, mental fogginess, addiction, fatigue and many other brain-related issues. In my line of work, I know for a fact you cannot have a healthy body without a healthy brain or vice-versa. Mainstream medicine tackles symptoms and prescribes drugs, so for anxiety, depression and other mood disorders, you are provided with a prescriptive drug. A homoeopathic doctor will treat you psychosomatically, but—like foods have the capacity to heal your body and mind—rewiring the monkey mind treats the root cause of all these issues. And while I do believe diet is extremely important, meditation is the only other tool that can be used to reset the brain.
A technique like Vipassana is not just needed for one person, but for the human race as a whole, to transcend through the limitations we self-impose or have acquired by our past conditioning, whose negative patterns are carried by us throughout our lifetimes. Patterns we keep recreating over and over, without breaking them. We need a coping mechanism that will be our tool against anything that could befall us on a mental-pattern level.
Sometime back, I remember being plugged into the news because of how our state government had made a mess of one case that was all over the news. I could not get Arnab Goswami out of my living room. Every evening, I hung on to every word, every debate; so much so that in between my workday, I’d go to the television to see what’s going on. It fuelled some anxiety in me and in a friend who lived in New York. Our entire discussion centred around this case. I realized that instead of calming our anxiety, news channels were feeding it instead. We were already in a pandemic that had just started, people were dying all around us and now this. It took me a lot to walk away from this madness. I stopped the daily papers, except on weekends. I realized the news had nothing much to add to my life. I’m still not getting them a year down the line. All you hear are headlines that are screaming more gloom and making you feel worse in this already dark space the world is in.
On the one hand, there is a world that has moved so far ahead: I have much more than my father had at his age. So obviously we have moved in the right direction. Yet it’s also become a little worse for all of us. Fashion trends, fad diets, social media addiction, the stress of looking younger and thinner, making more money, the idea that this is not where we are meant to be, but that there is always another place we can be transported to, seem to be the order of the day. In the last one year, I have recommended four young adults, my friends’ kids, to my psychologist, for different conditions, all related to fear psychosis. I feel the fact that the world is talking so much about ‘mindfulness’ at this time is also a sign that it is the need of the hour as a reaction to what we are all going through. Our minds just need a break.
Feeling you have no time doesn’t mean you have no time.
Feeling you are ugly doesn’t mean you are ugly.
Feeling anxious doesn’t mean you need to be anxious.
Feeling you haven’t achieved enough doesn’t mean you haven’t achieved enough.
Feeling you lack things doesn’t make you less complete.
Excerpt From Vipassana: The Timeless Secret to Meditate and Be calm by Shonali Sabherwal (Published by Penguin Random House 2022)