Meditation: Freedom vs. Indifference

2 Minutes Read
While I am far from a meditation expert, in leading workshops for the past few years, I have had the IMG_3555-2814756198-Oopportunity to explore questions and insights that come up in people. Recently, a question was sent my way about meditation and indifference. In the form of meditation I practice there are just three simple instructions to follow (you can experience them for yourself in this audio).

Mark: “My fear is that if I constantly have a meditation practice where I’m trying to be indifferent of the things that float by, it will transfer into my everyday life and I will be more and more indifferent to events in my life. I think that I feel emotions rather strongly and that it has made me the person I am today and if I practice being indifferent to it all, I will become indifferent to peoples pain and joys. I’m not sure how to deal with this fear and was hoping you could shed some light on a different perspective. I loved the meditation but I’m struggling not looking at things with heart.”

First, of all the concerns to have in the world this is one that is especially important. To not want to be indifferent to the people and space around you is a good thing! It is also important to remember that what we are doing in meditation is taking a brief reprieve from the world. When you are engaged in daily life, of course you want to be connected and available to move through it with your eyes open. I would argue that in fact is the core reason to meditate. Meditation helps you to be more available for life.

About Emotions

Mark mentioned strong emotions as character-building and a way to be involved with the world around him, so I will mention them as well. Something I’ve learned from observing people through the lens of Chinese Medicine is that emotions aren’t inherently good or bad. We humans derive meaning from emotions and allow them to move through us and express (or not). So naturally, if we feel something strongly, it is easy to think that the emotion carries a great meaning. Therefore, I would say meditation is essential to the healthy movement and expression of emotions.

If during meditation you are asked to do nothing but be still, be relaxed and let everything drop away, paying attention to nothing in particular (which includes thoughts, emotions and the whole world around you), when you step back into the stream of life notice what happens. The experience I have, and the one others have reported back to me, is that things that felt more contracted in their world seem to have expanded, and from this new-found space, life is lighter and more free.

Reasons to Meditate and Enlightenment

When I lead workshops on the subject I always ask why people are there. Some of the reasons are “to relax, to feel good, to calm my anxiety, to sleep better." Some people want to be free from stress, free from insomnia or free from depression. Freedom from feeling like we are swinging endlessly from one emotional branch to the next. 

I have never had someone say, “to be enlightened." For most people, Enlightenment isn’t a priority, and usually isn’t even on their radar.

However at the essential core, everyone’s answer is to be free.

What meditation provides, and the realization of enlightenment itself, is the direct knowing that you are already free.

The most important thing to note in all this, especially in relation to Mark's question, is that freedom does not equal indifference. Simply put, freedom is the capacity to care very deeply because there is so much space, whereas indifference usually means there is no room to care (I wrote a whole post about it in fact).

I hope you allow your meditation practice to be full of freedom. Please share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

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