“The Revolution Will Not be Televised”*
I was asked to speak about meditation at an “inspired cross-pollination” salon called Mindshare, held in LA’s Brewery art district—a sprawling complex of giant warehouses, occupied by artists and designers, in an industrial part of downtown. The challenge? To win over the crowd in only five minutes. The gritty-yet-beautiful setting was a loft overlooking a ghostly train yard, illuminated by the light show of trucks flying down the adjacent interstate. No yoga pants and raw-food smoothies at this party, so I spoke to what I felt in the room.
“Meditation is an act of cultural resistance,” I said. “It’s a silent, yet potent action of refusal.”
The beer-toting artists and architects with black-rimmed glasses looked intrigued.
“When we meditate and give our bodies the chance to restore order and optimize health, we are saying “No!” to some pervasive cultural norms. Those messages telling us that it’s inevitable to be on multiple prescription drugs by your sixties; that it’s ‘part of the deal’ of modern life to have sleepless nights and take Ambien; that depression or anxiety needs the magic bullet of medication.“ I went on, “When we commit to a meditation practice, we’re saying a big “No!”to the idea that we can mortgage our way to happiness and find permanent fulfillment through buying the next gadget; and “No!” to the idea that some expert with a book to sell holds our keys to happiness.”
I told them how 72 million Americans are said to have cardio-vascular disease, if you include the 50 million with high-blood pressure, and how Vedic meditators have been shown to have 87% less cardio-vascular disease than non-meditators. How cancer is the second biggest killer in our country, yet meditation helps the body organize to stay cancer free, with 55% fewer incidences in those who practice. And I told them how one of my recent students, who claimed to have been sleep deprived for “37 years” (she’s 37) reported on the second day of her meditation course, “I slept like a rock last night!”
It’s not a miracle nor a panacea for every ill, but it is a foundational tool for optimal health and personal transformation. Vedic meditation allows the body to unwind the stress that manifests as disease, and lets us locate the ocean of happiness that lies within. In this era, a practice this self-empowering seems like nothing short of a radical act.
*At the exact moment I was debating whether to take “radical meditation”as my thesis, the 1974 Gil Scott-Heron song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” came on the radio. Green light.
**Some may think this blog post contradicts the “Meditation as Modern Luxury” post below? Different crowd; different way into the subject; same benefits.