To be or to do?
And why 20 minutes is the optimal amount of time for meditation.
Ever heard the expression that “we’re human beings, not human doings”?
Vedanta, the ultimate conclusion is the Vedas, is that there is only one thing, and you are it.
“There is only one thing, and you are it.”
If there is only one thing, how can both being and doing exist simultaneously?
Now that you have a tool to experience the state of Being every day through Vedic Meditation, you know that Being is most excellent.
At the same time—things need to get done. That’s for certain.
But too much doing becomes deleterious without proper balance of being. We run ourselves into the ground.
Too much meditation can be equally deleterious—things don’t get done.
And so the ongoing balancing act between being and doing perpetuates itself.
We know we’re not human doings, yet there just always seems to be so much that just needs, well—doing.
The point of a real meditation practice is not to duck away from our daily demands for 20 minutes while we light some incense and sit in our room with our special blanket and feel all warm and fuzzy for 20 minutes.
Yes, meditation can often feel deeply relaxing and blissful—our mind often becomes saturated with the bliss of supreme inner contentment.
Those things are a bonus that we get to experience.
But the real point is to improve how we are outside of that 20 minutes—the other 23 hours per day. And to feel good while we’re doing it.
The way we do this is to sit for our 2x daily 20-minute sessions, allow the body to rest profoundly through the effortless repetition of the personalized mantra we received during our four-day course, and systematically unwind accumulated stress.
When we emerge, we do so with a lighter load to carry.
That means that we have more energy, we’re thinking more clearly, we’re creating more effortlessly, and we’re solving problems more effectively.
And here’s the best part—each time we emerge from meditation, a little more of that feeling of Being-ness sticks with us. It holds.
As you learned in the four-day course, the ongoing practice of meditation is akin to the process of dyeing fabric. We dip the fabric in the dye of transcendence or Being, and when we remove it, we lay it out into the sun of life’s daily demands, which fade our bliss a little bit. But as it gets faded, it also gets baked in—and the fabric of our Being becomes increasingly imbued with the dye of Being.
Eventually, with regular practice, we stabilize so much of the dye of Being that the fabric of our daily lives becomes completely saturated and permanently colorfast with it.
We combine the Being into the doing.
They become one.
Once asked by a board of executives at a high stakes law firm for his secret to success, my teacher paused dramatically and simply said…
“Grounded in Being, perform action.”
When we sit to meditate and rest the mind and body, we’re pulling back the string on our bow, so that when we fire the arrow, it goes further, straighter, and faster.
Sometimes it feels like we’ve got so many arrows to fire, that we’d better hurry up and get started, and to hell with spending time pulling the string back first. But what will be the ultimate effect of those arrows? Is the point to fire them for the sake of it, or to hit a target?
Similarly, when we're cooking a meal, we don't just throw the carrots in the pan to cook. We cut them first. While it takes a few extra minutes to do so, this allows them to cook more efficiently, saves us time in the long run, and provides a tastier meal, as the additional surface area on the sides of the sliced carrots allow for more of the seasoning to bind to them.
By investing the time each day in meditation, our actions become more powerful. We get more done in less time, at a higher caliber, with less need for fixing mistakes later.
The reason we meditate for 20 minutes, no more and no less, is because 20 minutes is the optimal amount of time to give us the best return on our time investment—the best bang for our buck.
Any less than 20 minutes and we aren’t giving bodies the ample opportunity to release all the stress we’re accumulating every day, and any more than 20 minutes and we’re only gaining a marginal additional benefit, so the extra time would be better spent on performing action.
Maharishi describes the technique of meditation quite simply:
“When a wave makes contact with deeper parts of the ocean, it becomes more powerful.”
Don’t fall into the trap of all doing and no Being.
Let’s discuss these and other ideas in Collective Effervescence, our online group meditation series, at its new time(!) this Sunday October 8 at 9AM LA / 12PM MIA / 6PM EU. Drop in for meditation only (first 30 min) or stay for discussion + Q&A on this and other life topics from the Vedic perspective.
Use the links below to add the full calendar of upcoming sessions to your calendar of choice, and your calendar will stay up to date automagically. Set reminders from the calendar settings page in your calendar program.
The lyrics to “You Set The Scene” by Love are Pulitzer Prize worthy, and the melody isn’t bad either. Did I already share this song once? If so, I do not apologize because it’s worth a second listen.