“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.” ~ Salvador Dali
Meditation is a common practice in the East, however, it’s still making its way in the West.
Westerners who don’t meditate seem to have a skewed idea about the ones who do.
I know because I was a non-meditator before and now I meditate. I’ve witnessed the biases and perspectives associated with each role.
In short, people think I’m a perfect human leading a perfect life—some even think that I levitate as well.
The truth is, I do meditate but I’m not a perfect person and I definitely don’t lead a perfect life.
I had close interactions with Buddhist monks in India and Nepal, and I was startled to see that just like me—and others who meditate—they’re not perfect. By perfect I mean there are problems that still arise, there are thoughts that still pop up, and there are worries that surprise us at times.
Meditation doesn’t transform us into perfect people—at the end of the day we are still human beings who experience emotions and agitations.
Meditation does not eradicate the imperfect in our lives.
Meditation teaches us how to deal with these emotions, agitations, problems and worries.
A meditation practice cultivates awareness.
This has been further proven when I took Vipassana meditation this year in India. We were taught not to react to inner and outer sensations arising in our body and mind. When I practiced non-reacting, I ascertained that every so-called conscious reaction originated from my unconsciousness. When I itch, sneeze, cry, laugh…every reflex I have is not a conscious one.
In other words, meditation doesn’t replace our minds with a perfect one: meditation teaches us how to deal with the one that we already have.
I still have problems, however, I no longer react to them the way I did in the past. Thoughts run in my head like a video tape all day long, but I don’t stop and react to every thought—I let them be.
I remember last year watching soccer with five Buddhist monks in the guesthouse I stayed in. One of the monks got really angry when his team didn’t score. The monk next to him looked at him and said: “Anger, friend, anger.” The monk who got mad instantly calmed down and laughed.
This year, in my Introduction to Buddhism course, our teacher Geshe La told us how worried he was when his flight to the North got delayed. But, he also told us how he dealt with that worry with a calm and stable mind.
What I’m trying to say, is that our minds will still act in an imperfect way. Nonetheless, those who practice meditation have the capability of mindfully dealing with it without being affected.
I’m truly convinced that meditation not only teaches us how to deal with problems, but it also changes our perception of our problems. After meditating for nearly 12 hours every day in Vipassana, I could form an idea about the place that lies beneath our mental agitation. The first six days were a living hell. Problems, memories and thoughts surfaced in a challenging way. However, after releasing them, I could finally enjoy the silence that we are naturally blessed with but rarely use.
In this silence, I have found the reality of things and the truth is, things are only an illusion. They’re an illusion because they are not as tangible and real as we think they are. When we realize this truth, we stop seeing problems as problems. In fact, we see them just as good as anything else in terms of the challenge they present.
But, to reach a stage of authentic bliss in meditation, we must be patient and constant in our practice. We will never be able to reach a state of perfection, but we will know how to deal with what’s imperfect.
I’m not perfect and never will be.
I am a person full of imperfections, but with meditation they no longer control me—I control them. In fact, I don’t see them as imperfections anymore. Thoughts, problems, and worries just “are” like everything else in life “is.”
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: @elyaneyoussef on Instagram
Editor: Caitlin Oriel