‘Strength through Meditation’

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An article published in the German weekly Stern on August 31, 2017, commented on by Punya.


Once again the magazine Stern. May I be forgiven for the style of writing but after a while their’s rubs off.

Nina Peelchau’s article shows that some research has been done but also shows the usual lack of understanding of the matter. She drops names and acronyms such as Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, MBSR, Peter Sedlmeier, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Ashutosh Maharaj. But is appears she has no clue what meditation is. A report from the outside, as if she were writing about a clock factory. From the outside, no involvement, that’s the way journalists are ‘meant to work’, it appears.

Then in come the editors who enjoy creating punchy titles. What about the title and subtitle on the cover?

Strong through Meditation
How millions of people live better with it
And how to learn it very easily

And a contradictory subtitle in the double spread:

The Power of Silence
For most people, meditation is an art that they find difficult to learn. But the effort is worthwhile. You don’t have to be religious or esoteric for soul training to be profitable.
(It could also be translated as: You don’t have to be religious or esoteric to benefit from soul training.)

Let it be said that, in recent years since meditation has become mainstream, it has been subjected to our commercial way of thinking (heard the word ‘profit’ or ‘benefit’ above?), namely ‘What is in it for me?’ Meditation has been advocated for particular reasons: for the betterment of ourselves, to reduce stress – only in order to cope with more stress, a bigger work load, longer hours with a clearer mind, to feel calmer and be kinder to our boss, colleagues and subordinates. For the harmony of all, and for the profit of the shareholders.

Little space is given to the changes that happen to a meditator because those are intrinsically adverse to the status quo businesses are trying to desperately hold on to. Meditators might also go through tough times when they see reality with more clarity: the way they heartlessly behave with family and friends, even with themselves, the routine, the hypocrisy in a relationship. Then the changes emerge; I have seen them in my own life, in that of my fellow travellers and Reiki students. They go for the divorce they have been postponing for years, they take the courage to change jobs and start a new profession to the dismay of family and friends. Disruption. Not so very comfortable at first. And it is not talked about.

And then, does meditation need to have a purpose? Don’t we just sink into it just for the joy of it? Just like listening to music? Or maybe there is that longing in us that spurs us to go and search deeper to find out the mystery that is inside? An inexplicable and innate longing to know ourselves? A deep longing to know what drives nature to grow and bloom – and to merge with her?

But – otherwise I would not have bothered bringing this article to your attention – in the margins next to the photographs there are short statements by people who do meditate and here something of importance comes across in spite of the slightly mockingly written main text. For the joy of sharing I translated three of them.

Stern article: MadlenMadlen Petzsche, 28, Coach and Workshop leader, Munich
I meditate almost daily. Whenever possible, I am looking for a quiet and peaceful place in nature, like the Karwendelspitze. Out in the open it is easier for me. Nature is for me a symbol of what I want to achieve with meditation: to just be. Like a tree that, well grounded through its deep roots, takes life as it comes. Meditating gives me the opportunity to collect myself and at the same time to gain distance. This lets my create my life in a more self-determined way.

Stern article: NevinNevin Dogan, 42, Project Manager, Frankfurt
Two years ago a lot of things in my private life converged and I went to a Buddhist center in search of peace. That’s where I learned to meditate. First of all I felt a lot of emotions, anger, grief – an inner cleaning process. Meditation helps me to focus – also now that I am starting a new job. My work is very demanding, I work 40 to 45 hours a week. Before leaving my flat in the morning, I meditate either with singing bowls on the balcony, or, if time is too tight, in the subway among all the people. I just close my eyes, put on my headphones and listen to my chakra music. People around me probably think: She’s asleep. One stop before I have to get off, I finish my meditation. Many have the idea that meditation can be done only in a silent place, but there are many possibilities to integrate exercises into everyday life.

Stern article: MarenMaren Güssmann, 32, Physiotherapist, Göppingen
I give meditation courses several times a week in the Göppingen juvenile detention centre. The reaction of the boys and girls was overwhelming. The first time they stood up and applauded. Most of the juveniles are here for violent or drug-related crimes. They are afraid and often consider it a disgrace for their families to be in jail. Often they see themselves as victims and never have the opportunity to think about themselves and what they have done. But this is exactly what happens in meditation. It creates a space for new perspectives, for security and trust, that many don’t know. Janina, next to me in the photo, sent me a post on Facebook after she was discharged and thanked me, saying she had learned to take her life into her own hands. A law enforcement officer told me that some youngsters even meditate in their cells. That, of course, made me very happy to hear.

PunyaArticle by Punya

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