It would seem that people stand divided on this subject, and not least on whether it is to be conceived as in any way valid in a secular, or non-religious or spiritual sense. It is touted as a method of calming down and reducing stress; and it is conceived as possible in different forms whether in ‘therapeutic’ forms of gardening, dance, yoga, tai chi etc., all of which may converge on a form of relaxation, generally perceived as ‘good’.
There is also money in the realm of recommending ‘meditation’ however it may be defined, or in whatever form it may take.
It would seem perhaps that the majority of people might say, that on their terms, today, whether secular or non-secular, ‘meditation’, whether it’s to calm their nerves, or re-align their ‘vital energies’ shall we say, make them better in bed, is something they can do with in their life, or that they approve of.
But it is arguable that it is perhaps the most difficult thing of all to do. That is, in the sense that meditation is sitting still, perhaps in the lotus position, and counting one’s breaths, and placing one’s attention in one’s midriff, listening to one’s surroundings, and filling one’s chest and throat with air, and having a sense of ‘watching’ all the pictures in one’s mind, for a minimum of half an hour: this, then, it can be argued, is the defining image of meditation as in Zen Buddhism: and this, it can be seen is perhaps the most difficult discipline in life it is possible to undertake.
The sense of bodily nervous tensions, and emotional inducements to move are usually described as unendurable; it seems there are a thousand more important things to do; the worry occurs to one that one may be wasting one’s time; if one is doing in a ‘spiritual’ sense, it may occur to one that one may get further spiritually by going about one’s worldly chores ‘until’ one is ready to meditate. It seems that people would rather do anything than test their patience to this degree.
But a strong argument in favour of this exercise is that, if one can force oneself to do this, and perhaps in time become used to it, it is very likely they will have the discipline to undertake other tasks which in actual fact require less personal discipline, such as learning the piano, or a language, or a martial art, or mathematics, or undergoing psycho-analysis, or going about their business.
Personal training and strength building and endurance sports are buildable by gradual degrees, and can be the result of a nervous obsession and still may not be as great a personal discipline as meditation.
It is worth pointing out, that although 1/2 an hour may be the minimum, it may be that 15 minutes is a quantity of this exercise that anyone, no matter how nervous, might just about be able to force themselves to do. From this achievement they may be able to build up to half an hour.
So it is curious to think that the most difficult thing to do in life, is a thing which requires no tools, no money, no special clothing, and no training in one sense, and a thing which, in some way, can be done in any situation (presumably one of solitude, and with some quiet, but still this is not absolutely necessary – even if you are floating in a glass jar in Chingis Khan’s court). It would seem that this most difficult thing to do in life, is in fact the most easy thing to do in life, since everything in life is so difficult without it; and in this sense, it must be that one is not doing anything in life, but this.
If you must imagine things while you are doing it, at least imagine how easy things will be once you have managed that.