Secular meditation: a practice sometimes put at the service of performance?

- through Sophie Solere

Published on

Many people are interested in meditation, but some, poorly informed, are mistaken in their approach, in their desire to appropriate what they think is a technique that will allow them to be more relaxed, more Zen. They embark on the practice with the idea of ​​having something more, like acquiring a car, social status, recognition or knowledge… But the practice of meditation goes far beyond that. Its promotion as the solution to all our ills and its omnipresence in the mainstream media naturally created expectations.

What is secular meditation?

The meditation of mindfulness is the quality of consciousness that emerges when one intentionally turns one's mind to the present moment. It is the attention paid to the experience lived and tested, without filter, without judgment, without expectation. It trains the mind to free itself from the flood of thoughts to focus on the present moment longer and more deeply. In this exploration of our interiority, in this face-to-face encounter, there is a feeling of intimacy and accuracy that is difficult to find elsewhere.

This mindfulness meditation program was developed in the United States by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the late 1970s. Secular meditation represented by MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) has been the subject of a number of very important scientific studies, which has made credible.

The truly innovative contribution of Jon Kabat-Zinn was to adapt Buddhist meditation to our culture by secularizing and formatting it.

Indeed, mindfulness meditation is not new: it comes from Buddhist traditions, one of the most famous representatives of which is the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.

In view of the difficulties encountered by our modern societies and with the title of "Stress reduction", this program has become known throughout the world where it has met with undeniable success even today.

An increasingly common practice

In our modern society, the demand for performance, beauty and success has become the norm. This includes diet, physical activity and practices such as yoga and meditation, which are increasingly seen as essential to good health and well-being.

But practicing meditation is not something trivial. It seems important to me to have a minimum of knowledge about what meditation is before starting. Indeed, many people practice on their own and when we do not have these notions, this culture specific to meditation, we think that this practice can be useful to us and that it should make us progress or relieve us.

"You have to be aware that the practice of meditation is difficult and that it requires courage and perseverance, while getting rid of any spirit of acquisition, success, performance, and that goes completely against of what is currently advocated. »

As a result, some people start practicing meditation without really being interested in its foundations, their goal being essentially to obtain results, whether physical or psychological. It also sometimes happens that this practice is put to the service of causes far removed from its origin and its foundations. Ethics is therefore a central notion in secular meditation, because it originates from Buddhism and the values ​​that accompany it.

It seems useful to me to be pedagogical and to warn against this idea of ​​obtaining results. We must be aware that the practice of meditation is difficult and that it requires courage and perseverance, while getting rid of any spirit of acquisition, success, performance, and this goes completely against what is currently advocated.

Many dream of fame, power, an easy life… Personality, character, self-centeredness are highly valued. “So, if I meditate, maybe I would become even more efficient, I could surpass myself in my work and also become happier, more famous and why not richer? ". We must be clear when we present this practice: it has no particular objective, there is nothing miraculous about it and it is not a panacea.

Cultivate presence and acceptance

The practice of meditation is now more and more widespread in different settings, in business, at school, in hospital and even in prison. It is a very good thing that a large number of people can access it.

In fact, this practice is not reserved for an elite, but it must be disseminated by being precise and attentive: it requires, if possible, to be accompanied by a qualified teacher who will support the practitioner.

With regular practice and when you are a little more experienced, you understand better through experience what meditation really is. We more easily welcome what surrounds us and what crosses us without refusing the difficult aspects, without clinging to pleasures. We become more attentive, we live things with more presence and enthusiasm, but without attaching ourselves to the results, we simply abandon ourselves to the present. We discover that peace is found in things left as they are, and if you know how to reach this haven of peace within yourself, you will no longer have to do or undo anything. This is the ultimate refuge, the ultimate letting go.

This understanding, this receptivity to what surrounds us, this extreme form of openness, this radical acceptance of “reality” mark a first step towards greater inner freedom.

“Letting go of body and mind, letting go of our attachment to them.
Abandon our usual modes of operation.
Constantly judging, interpreting, commenting, telling stories.
Constantly acting, gesticulating, intervening.
So just sit back, no expectations, no goals, it's not about getting out of life

But on the contrary to meet, to discover, to go to the heart of his life.
Become intimate with yourself in simplicity and gentleness.
That's why I've sat there every morning for many years.
Sometimes turbulent, sometimes calm, sometimes sad, sometimes happy.
Simply sitting there, seeking nothing, refusing nothing. »

photo of author

Sophie Solere

Sophie Solère is an economic and social journalist who has been interested for years in the environment and interdependence. She works for Buddhist News, a media platform dedicated to Buddhist spirituality and wisdom. By practicing yoga and meditative dance, Sophie discovered the power of spiritual journeys, which offer so many paths to (re)find yourself. She is dedicated to sharing inspiring stories and valuable advice on spiritual practice and the environment with Buddhist News readers.

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