Is meditation meant to be a relaxation system? I wonder about that.

When I was eighteen, I was introduced to a famous American meditation teacher and we became friends. Through him, I met another American who had spent the prior six years in Thailand as a Buddhist monk. This former monk had only recently returned to the US and traded out his monk's robes for regular clothing. He was still working out what his "right livelihood" might be - you know, work that would pay him enough to cover his food and rent.

Our mutual friend suggested he coach some Little League baseball while he was trying to figure it out. We all met for dinner after his first game, and when we found him at the restaurant, he was agitated to the point of shaking.

"I got so caught up in that game," he told me. "I was so excited, worrying about how my kids were doing and getting all worked up when they made a mistake or missed a fly ball or scored a run. I could hardly stand it!"

He sat there a moment and then said, "I've really got to meditate more!"

Now, I didn’t know a whole lot about spiritual practices at that time. There was no question this man would have gotten some benefit from a relaxation massage, or some progressive muscle relaxation, maybe even a good relaxation CD. Even so, it seemed strange to me that this man appeared to believe that there was something wrong with being excited about a baseball game.

I believe I said something like, "Well, that's what it's supposed to be like at a game."

But this man believed that he should have the ability to put himself into emotionally intense situations like that and remain calm and relaxed no matter what happened. But that just seemed completely unrealistic to me.

I also realized that he believed meditation was some kind of cure-all for what appeared to me to be an imaginary problem. To put it simply, something seemed wrong with the idea that if a person gets excited, meditation is required to help them relax.

I would think that a deep meditation practice would be about living life fully alive and engaged, not immune to the influence of life. It would be about being okay with getting all wacky and excited and crazy watching a team of kids chase a baseball.

Some people who read this might be thinking, "Perhaps he wanted to meditate more to better enable him to relax and ride the waves of excitement of the kids' game."

But it appeared more like he wanted meditation to inoculate him against any stress in the future.

That got me curious about what kind of relaxation technique might allow you to remain a participant in your life, if there was a relaxation or meditation system that enabled you to stop arguing with yourself when life events were turning out differently than expected.

I had no clue where that curiosity would ultimately lead me…

Author's Bio: 

Steven Sashen began meditation when he was eight years old, was one of the first biofeedback pioneers, and researched cognition and perception at Duke University. In addition to a successful career as an entrepreneur and entertainer, Steven has taught transformational techniques around the world and developed the Instant Advanced Meditation Course, which Dr. Gay Hendricks calls, "Perhaps the fastest and easiest way to relax, expand awareness, and find deep inner-peace."

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