Is Meditation Selfish?

There is a lot going on in the world and there have been major changes to how we live over the last few years. These changes have drastically impacted people’s lives. 

When people see that I don’t react to these events like many others, they may think meditation has made me less caring, less passionate and that I’m living in my own world, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Meditation has allowed me to see beyond my conditioned reaction, the black and white of situations. It has allowed me to see the depth of situations, the 2nd and 3rd order impacts of change. It is from a place of calm that I can digest the same information differently, at a rate that allows my mind to stay with the information, not my emotional projections.

I think it is powerful that people are outraged by certain events and that they want to change the injustices of the world. However, most people who react never do anything about the things that have effected their emotional state. They absorb all that suffering and sadly that is where it stays, inside them, fueling their vigilance.

Others are motivated to action by their outrage, to create the change they want to see in the world. Those who want to make change care so much it hurts them and they suffer from frequent burn-out.

Meditation has made me more aware of suffering than ever before. Suffering was something I could previously turn a blind eye to, blaming it on the individual or the system and feel the issues were too big to change. But the awareness and compassion cultivated by my meditation practice means the injustices of the world are front and centre but my compassion for all suffering is matched with compassion for myself. 

When your compassion for outside suffering comes at a cost to your wellbeing you are adding to the pool of suffering. As a result your ability to help certain causes is diminished so it important to mindfully find a balance point. 

Finding calm during times of crises, has helped me move outrage to understanding, fear to concern, and pessimism to optimism and moving in those directions means my desire and motivation to change the world is more sustainable. 

Being less triggered into heightened emotional states by egotistical, dangerous and ignorant politicians, corporate neglect, greed and bad science has allowed me space to think clearly about what needs to happen on both an individual level and a collective level to make change. The biggest shift in understanding that meditation has helped me arrive at has been that change takes time, these times frames may be longer than my lifetime but I can still remain optimistic that by demanding change in a mindful way that avoids my own suffering or burnout is the greatest gift I can give to the future.

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