VICE: Andrew W.K. on Meditation

Andrew W.K. on Meditation | VICE

John S. Shealy is a Louisville, Kentucky-based psychologist who has written much about meditation and mindfulness, an act he and countless others liken to taming a wild horse. Our mind, he writes, “loves to run fast, wildly chasing after first this thought, then that sensation, then on to the next bit of stimulation and on into the sunset it runs.” Meditation is an attempt to keep the wild horse that is our mind from distraction for just a tiny, quiet spell in hopes that we can saddle up and ride it to its full potential. But of course achieving ultimate calm in the face of this whirling blur of chaos called life is close to impossible.

This is likely because we approach meditation in the wrong way from the outset, often lusting for a quantifiable result. Many come to meditation because they believe it will help in some way, as though it is a master key that will unlock all doors. It is and it does, but it’s subtle, a complicated paradox. Through meditation we’re trying to develop a skill that we believe will make us better people, but the whole point of meditation is that there’s no particular result to get to. And yet, in a very peculiar way, you’re able to get better at achieving this non-achievement.

This is so contrary to the way we operate in other areas of our lives—always trying to get something, go somewhere, be someone. In the West especially, we’re saddled with an ambition that teaches us that if we can just get X, Y, and Z, we’ll be happy, life will be good, we’ll have reached a place of contentment. But meditation teaches us that there is nowhere to reach, the outer world isn’t some sort of chessboard where we can use our inner powers to manipulate those outer conditions and satisfy our desires. The inner and the outer are the same thing. Our outer experiences are actually supposed to help us master our inner life, and the other way around.

“Quite simple,” as Shealy writes. “But let’s not confuse simple with easy.”

…continue reading