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Who Wants to Meditate Next to a Jackhammer?
Submitted by edoardoballerini on Thu, 7/26/2012, 11:00am
In my last post I suggested that people don’t like to meditate in noisy places, like Times Square, and that most retreats take place in the serenity of the woods, the desert, and the mountains. (Of course, right on cue, Patrick Morris sat in Times Square, making a mockery of my idea. Thanks, Patrick!) Anyway... people jumped in saying that the “where” of meditation doesn’t and shouldn’t matter, that everywhere is the same because the point is to deal with what “is.”
And I disagree.
That meditation is meant to deal with what “is,” is true. That it’s the same experience sitting next to a babbling brook as it is sitting next to a construction site, is not. (Let the comments begin.) The fact that sitting in Times Square warranted a mention suggests that it’s out of the ordinary and unusual. I’ve never seen a tweet announcing, “Hey look, so-and-so sat in a quiet room! How cool is that!”
The human instrument also “is” what it “is,” and reacts to different stimuli. It’s the reason we can torture a person with loud noise or bright lights or lull somebody to sleep with a droning voice. Little will convince me that three days of banging pots and pans will leave a person as refreshed as they would be had they spent the time in a cabin listening to crickets. Crying babies can drive us mad, a slamming door wakes us up, and loud punk music in a sweaty cavern is physically irritating to most anybody over the age of 30. (Anybody really up for meditating in a mosh pit? Really?)
Most retreats promise serenity, calm, and an idyllic setting. Perhaps I haven’t dug deep enough, but I haven't seen too many notices for retreats in subway stations, or under highway overpasses, or stadium parking lots on game day, save for a few that were trying to bring meditation to unexpected places. I for one, would be hesitant to attend them. I know what it would do to my central nervous system. But I see promises of quiet, calm, and peace in most announcements for retreats.
I’m not trying to be snarky. I’m willing to learn. Indeed I would love to learn. If it could make my commute on the train, pushing through the throngs of people, like a day at the beach, please, teach me. Until then, I’ll keep working on what “is.” But for now I'm inclined to feel that certain versions of “is” are inherently more pleasant than others.
I welcome your comments.
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