What Will it Take to Make Meditation Mainstream?

Via on Apr 12, 2013

If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation

 Last year, I had the privilege of hearing Congressman Tim Ryan speak about his book, Mindfulness for a Nation.

It struck me that while within the yoga community, meditation is somewhat of a given, in much of the Western world it is still met with skepticism, if not outright rejection.

While we rage on about gun laws, Monsanto, marriage equality and everything else under the sun, are we missing out on a simple yet powerful step towards a more peaceful world?

This is not to say that I think we should cease to stand up for what we believe. A big part of being the change in the world is activism.

In addition to taking a stand, it’s important that we remember to take a seat:


I spoke briefly with Rebecca Dreyfus about her upcoming movie this week, and am excited to share it with you. I believe that every time we can make mindfulness practices seem a little more accessible and mainstream, we are doing our part to make a better world for the next generation.

From Rebecca:

On Meditation offers a rare glimpse into the inner journey of meditation.

This innovative documentary, currently in production, is comprised of a series of portraits, notable personalities articulating their experience of meditation and how it’s helped them manage and manifest realities in their lives. Viewers get a peek into the mind and heart of our subjects, each of whom lend both divergent and similar viewpoints to this rich overview of the inward exploration of meditation.

To date, the series includes actor Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Do the Right Thing), two-time national book award winner Peter Matthiessen (The Snow Leopard), Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, and yoga teacher and author Elena Brower (Art of Attention).

Additionally, acclaimed meditation advocate David Lynch will be filmed for the project this spring.

In order to finish the project, we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign. There are many funding options, most notably a $75 contribution which sends a copy of the film to a school, hospital, facility for at-risk youth or women, to a senior center, or a prison. This is by far the most salient aspect of the project. Our aim is to get thousands of copies sent far and wide.

Award-winning director/executive producer team of Rebecca Dreyfus and Susannah Ludwig have created this project, joined by yoga teacher Elena Brower, lending her hand as executive producer.



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About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter


11 Responses to “What Will it Take to Make Meditation Mainstream?”

  1. Padma Kadag says:

    I understand the sentiment and coming from you it is nothing but genuine. But…meditation, as we all know by now, is a very broad term. It has been used by the Catholic church for a very long time as well as all kinds of Eastern practices. It has been used by the New Ageists as well as Wiccans. Poets have used it. I understand your aspiration. We should be concerned with meditation and how it is taught though. What will be our motivation for practicing meditation. What really is meditation? Just as an outer journey can lead one down the wrong road with it's pitfalls….the inner journey can do the same. Without an authentic teacher who has some realization and can recognize the pitfalls meditation may make us even more ego driven.

    • "Without an authentic teacher who has some realization and can recognize the pitfalls meditation may make us even more ego driven."

      I agree. I think that's a huge key to this conversation. Just encouraging "meditation" is not sufficient, though I do think for children teaching a few minutes of shamatha type meditation but calling it something simple and familiar is a helpful thing.

  2. Chad says:

    With all due respect, I think that what will make meditation more mainstream is for the practitioners in this country to appear less flakey. Among those who have realized the benefits of a zen or yogic practice, there appears to be a trend of mimicking the cultural style of eastern societies, rather than acknowledging our own roots. As Americans, is is honestly weird and somewhat offensive to be chanting in languages we don’t understand, and changing our names to “something Sanskrit” in order to play the part. Others pick up in this. And they think that meditation is something weird that “those people” do. So basically, I think we should stop trying to turn Americans into Asian stereotypes, and just accept the fact that although we see the value of yoga & zen, it doesn’t mean that it is reasonable to try and keep it within the cultural contexts from which they were created. And actually, that is the essence of the original teachings.. Don’t be attached to traditions or concepts.. Impermanence surrounds us.. It might be time for regular ‘mericans to evolve the practice to make sense within our specific historical context…

    • "As Americans, is is honestly weird and somewhat offensive to be chanting in languages we don't understand, and changing our names to "something Sanskrit" in order to play the part."

      Ha! YES!

      Chanting when you have taken the time to learn the meaning and are truly following that spiritual path—yes. But as a good friend always tells me about spiritual things: "Don't get weird." As I mentioned to Padma above, I think there is a balance here. We don't need to play into any stereotype or elevate something simply because it's a foreign practice and seems exotic (Kumare, anyone?). But meditation has been part of many different cultures and spiritual practices. Even just sitting and paying attention to the breath is a helpful tool, and keeping it simple will go a long way towards making it mainstream.

      • dreadedyogi87 says:

        I hope so, because meditation is awesome, and we're missing out as a nation if our populace can't get past whatever barriers there may be towards a commonality of the practice! Think if everyone was taught how to still their minds from a young age.. would there be so many social problems? I don't know, but I think it's quite well worth the experiment to find out.

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Take the lead Chad….You be the Merican that announces a truly Merican meditation without the benefit of any of the Indian teachers or Tibetan lamas or Japanese Roshis, Indian practices, Tibetan sadhanas. Forget about watching your breath and sitting in any of the many postures which support meditation. Chant the holy words you have discovered in english yoursef. Do not seek a teacher. In fact do not meditate…there is no merican tradition. Why are you so concerned about what others are doing. Watch your own mind. Oh…we mericans don't do that

      • dreadedyogi87 says:

        for the record, i'm an existential yogi. i like to think for myself, absorb the teachings of all the profound minds who have come before, from patanjali to kierkegaard, and all those interwoven into the fabric of spiritual discourse. But that also means that I'm doomed towards freedom, in the sense that I can not ethically attach myself to any kind of pre-packaged ideology, and must create my own understanding of the world. I've studied yoga in the mountains, and zen while living in a temple, and have concluded that lamas and roshis, sadhanas, and all the rest can only speak as much truth as there actually is, ultimately. And that truth really needs no words to defend it, as it stands with or without our appreciation. The question is, can you see it in a cup of tea, a simple-minded twitter feed, or a long drive down the freeway? If not, all of the roshis in the world can't give you nothin worth holding on to!

        • "And that truth really needs no words to defend it, as it stands with or without our appreciation. The question is, can you see it in a cup of tea, a simple-minded twitter feed, or a long drive down the freeway? If not, all of the roshis in the world can't give you nothin worth holding on to!"

          Well said!

      • I think Chad raises a few good points, though I don't agree with all of it. A quality teacher is important; emulating the practices of others as a fad or treating them as sacred simply because they seem "exotic" is not.

        I'd hate to see all of the traditional lost and watered down on the quest to make meditation accessible. I believe there's a middle way with this, as with most things.

        • Padma Kadag says:

          Is meditation blanking out your mind? some think so. Is meditation a means to learn to love yourself? some think so? Is meditation a way to relax? some think so. Is meditation a means to make one's self more "grounded"? some think so. Is meditation a means to make one's self more powerful? some think so. Is meditation a means to be dull? some think so. Is meditation a means for people to practice being an enlightened being? some think so. Is meditation a means to escape samsara? some think so. Is meditation just a word, a concept? some think so. Accessing which meditation are we talking about? Just to meditate means nothing.

  3. dreadedyogi87 says:

    agreed. and not to be crude, but i have to play devil's advocate sometimes 😛 bc these arguments, as Kate points out, are instrumental to a broader conversation about meditation withinin the united states… tradition is important (i'm of the Iyengar lineage and definitely wouldn't like to see that watered down either). but for realizes, the time is here, and the place is now. how shall we respond!?

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