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Wasting time meditating

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

I’ve been interested in religions, spirituality, and any related subjects, since the early years of my relationship with my late wife, so mid to late 90s. She eventually practised meditation within her commitment to Kriya Yoga.

I never saw the point of her meditating. At least I didn’t see any tangible effects. Then I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1998. Soon afterwards I was prescribed Risperidone, and later Quetiapine. Doses varied from moderate to very high and back. Antipsychotics will slow the firing of neurons in your brain: it will slow you down. Socially, occupationally, physically, and in other ways, and certainly on balance, they can be advantageous. I soon made a connection between anti psychotics and the stilling of a mind by practising meditation.

That natural stilling, a patently more desirable process than relying on drugs, must be questionable, if a psychosis follows its mastery. To prescribe it acutely to a newly diagnosed psychotic person, would be crazier than the problem itself. So, there’s an issue: if you became psychotic but could successfully meditate, how is further meditating going to fix your problem, and frankly, if you don’t practise meditation and get psychotic, you won’t possibly learn it quickly enough to help you, and medication will most likely be a better option.

There’s another element to this that I want to share. Before I had much involvement with psychiatry, I was amidst the study of classical piano. I’d reached advancement through a decade of daily practise. My mother insists I would be dead without the piano. At some time in that decade, I would have killed myself.

On the surface, meditating appears to equate with the cliches of either watching grass grow or paint dry. Whilst reading musical notation from the printed score, and playing a piano, or indeed another classical instrument, emotional, physical, mental, and even spiritual aspects can become in tune, like it’s all increasingly and deeply holistic.

Switching the world off is not a case of easy, hard, or otherwise, but with advancing pianism, it just is, there is no other way to play. Ironically, it is meditating without having wasted time meditating, i.e., doing nothing.

Very importantly, my personal view of the goal of meditation, is not that you still your own mind, which is a short-sighted aim. Rather, it is to assume, conclude, project onto, whatever, that everyone’s mind is still! That’s where the real gains come from.

Advanced instrumental scales and arpeggios in endless permutations, can be perfect to play in themselves, and they’re always a worthwhile study. Start learning a musical instrument. I mean it!

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