Meditation & Social Media: Going inner… going outer!
Meditation. I do not wish to sound like a preacher and go on about the benefits of meditation and that everyone should do it… no. The benefits are well-known…. but meditation isn’t for everyone. Not everyone can just sit there and simply meditate. This post then is about my own experience.
The practice I have recently begun following again (Transcendental Meditation (TM)) involves a gentle repetition of a Sanskrit mantra until the mind slowly drifts into a state of “transcendence”, at the point where there is no thought. At the same time, my body totally relaxes to the point that I cannot feel my hands anymore, as if they had melted completely into thin air. It really feels as if nothing is there! It is a remarkable feeling. Upon emerging from the meditation, there is definitely a noticeable shift in consciousness, leaving a sense of calmness and often clarity.
This morning, my meditation practice was a little different. I experimented with placing a yoga brick behind my back in between me and the sofa spot where I meditate every day. I picked up this trick in a restorative yoga class we went to last weekend. Initially I did this to improve my posture and keep my back straight and upright, as my Osteopath mentioned that I needed to improve my posture before problems emerge in later life (all because of sitting behind a desk at work with the shoulders hunched (which seems to be an autonomic reaction to stress) and leaning over the keyboard. I’m really convinced that the modern-day working environment is a health hazard.
The effect was startling: My mind settled very quickly, my breathing was more precise and I reached a new level of transcendence. Perhaps the effect of the brick increased the flow of energy through the subtle energy channels in the body, (the nadis as they are called in yoga or as they say in Traditional Chinese Medicine, meridians), allowing prana (life force) to flow more easily and provide a greater rejuvenating effect upon body and mind. Anyway, it was an interesting experience and one that I will continue.
So what has all this got to do with social media you may ask?? Well, the one thing with TM is that it takes 20 minutes. You also need 30 seconds at the beginning to prepare yourself before you begin the meditation and 2 minutes at the end to emerge from the transcendence, ready to come back into the world again. When I started practicing again, I was kind of estimating these 20 minutes myself, but in reality I was probably meditating for longer than 20 minutes as the mind drifted into a deeper state of transcendence. I would sometimes come out a little groggy, as if I had been meditating for too long (is that really possible?)
So what I needed was some form of timer. I had seen that you could buy devices in yogi brochures and I said to my girlfriend I should go and buy one. She always has a knack for making great suggestions and this time she was spot on. She suggested that I should try to find an app for this. Unsurprisingly, there were many on the App Store! An app for everything it seems these days. For the grand sum of £2.29 I bought an app that had a timer function as well as the ability to introduce different bells, chimes etc…which I thought was just what I needed. Now I really could break down my TM session perfectly into its various stages.
However, what took me by surprise was that this app also doubled as a platform for a world-wide community of meditators! You could see who was meditating and where in the world they were logging in, together with a profile picture of them. At the end of the meditation, the app tells you how many people you have been meditating with and who they were. My initial reaction was that this was very bizarre. I mean, meditation is about going inwards, looking deeper into ourselves and experiencing what it is like for our consciousness to merge with the ethereal world. To me then, an app with a social network seems the complete opposite of what meditation is all about.
Having said that, some studies have shown the effect of group meditations upon reducing crime. A group of (4000) TM meditators went to Washington DC and meditated together. They were able to demonstrate that during the time that they were meditating, the level of violent crime and homicide in DC was reduced significantly. See links below for further info.
Assuming the hypothesis holds true, I can’t quite understand the science behind this, but perhaps it has something to do with the effect that meditation has on electromagnetic activity and the brain and the resulting energy field (aura) that it generates around ourselves and the environment. Some yogic circles say that we are all connected, perhaps this is just one manifestation of this…
So where does this leave us? I don’t think I’ll be developing a profile on my meditation app, but I guess if other people want (or need) to engage with others in such a manner then it can’t do any harm and in fact, as the above study has shown, statistically at least it is beneficial.
It’s just amazing that in the 21st century of technology and social media that we live in, we have found a way to integrate this very ancient practice into our new way of living. Perhaps though it is just another way of bringing people together. Imagine if the whole world had this meditation app and we all stopped, sat down and started meditating together, including all the crazy ISIS folk and all the others who are tearing themselves apart and killing each other. It really would be quite something, probably a cure for all the worlds problems and ills. How is that for a proposition?! Just meditate 🙂