Friday, February 22, 2008

How to Survive the 21st Century — with Meditation

Now for the good news! As I mention earlier in this chapter, meditation offers a time-honored antidote to fragmentation, alienation, isolation, stress — even stress-related illnesses and depression. Although it won’t solve the external problems of your life, it does help you develop inner resilience, balance, and strength to roll with the punches and come up with creative solutions.

To get a sense of how meditation works, imagine for a moment that your body and mind are a complex computer. Instead of being programmed to experience inner peace, harmony, equanimity, and joy, you’ve been programmed to respond to life’s inevitable ups and downs with stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. But you have the power to change your programming.

By putting aside all other activities, sitting quietly, and attuning yourself to the present moment for 10 or 15 minutes each day, you’re developing a whole new set of habitual responses and programming yourself to experience more positive emotions and mind-statesOf course, if you find it distasteful to think of yourself as a computer, you can picture life as an ocean, with the constant ups and downs you experience as the waves that churn and roil on the water’s surface. When you meditate, you dive beneath the surface to a quiet place where the water is calmer and more consistent.

Whatever your favorite metaphor, the point is that meditation provides a way of transforming stress and suffering into equanimity and ease. In this section, you get to see how meditators have been reaping the remarkable benefits of meditation for millennia — and how you can, too!

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