Have you ever met someone who goes on and on about the awesomeness of meditation and how it can cure all of your problems? I certainly have. In fact, I’ve occasionally been that person.
It can be incredibly frustrating when someone offers unsolicited advice that can be reduced to “If you would only do exactly what I recommend, all of your struggles in life will be fixed. Immediately.” That’s not exactly the most persuasive argument to make a major lifestyle change, to say the very least.
Meditation does, in fact, have a ton of benefits, ranging from reducing cortisol (a factor in heart disease) to improving mental focus, and I highly recommend developing a consistent meditation practice. But just like everything else, there are some things that meditation can’t solve. Here are ten things that meditation will not do:
- Make you grow six inches taller. There is scientific evidence in the field of epigenetics that meditation can alter genetic expressions, but there are of course limits to how this plays out in real time. While there are some things about ourselves that can we can indeed change, meditating every day for a year will not defy the laws of nature.
- Transport you to another part of the world. The imagination is a powerful force. I have envisioned myself in some pretty cool travel destinations, but I have yet to be beamed up in a real-life Star Trek transporter.
- Alter the weather. Wouldn’t this be convenient? I wrote recently about how I used an autogenics meditation to calm my shivering on a coolish evening, but let’s face it…I didn’t actually make the temperature warmer.
- Sprout wings. All of those childhood fantasies about superhuman powers, well, they’re probably not going to come true. Besides, imagine having to get an entirely new wardrobe to accommodate wings. (I’m filing this in the “be careful what you wish for” category.)
- Make your boss treat you better. OK, so meditation can shift how we relate to those around us, but a lot of that involves shifting how we react to those things (and people) we can’t change. Some situations are simply beyond our control, as the Serenity Prayer reminds us.
- Resurrect a dead houseplant. Confession: one time I thought that I had indeed brought a plant back to life. But then I realized that it had just been dormant in the winter.
- Convert you to a different religion. This item on my list is a little more serious. I grew up in an environment where yoga and meditation were treated with suspicion. My mother, a devoted church organist, had a decades-long meditation practice, but she warned me that we shouldn’t talk about it publicly because people might think we were “New Age.” Some forms of meditation are part of a religious practice, but this does not apply to all types of meditation. If fears that Satan will take over your mind are holding you back from studying meditation, please rest assured that you can have a meditation practice without religious conversion.
- Cure everyone who has a terminal disease. There are documented accounts of people overcoming life-threatening illnesses through meditation and other holistic health modalities, but this does not mean that all diseases can be cured through meditation. When I was caring for my terminally ill mother, we both found that meditation helped us to make peace with the reality that life is impermanent.
- Become an instant virtuoso on a musical instrument. Remember the musical The Music Man? When traveling salesman Harold Hill needed to sell a bunch of musical instruments, he convinced the parents that their children could become musicians without touching the instruments through the “Think Method.” It didn’t exactly work, but the parents were still proud of their young ones. Anyone who has been to a beginner band concert can attest that the joy of the experience is not necessarily due to the quality of the performance, but rather, the kids’ efforts and enthusiasm (clarinet squeaks and all).
- Stop bad things from happening. This is so important to understand. There are times when life is going to be difficult, no matter how much we’re meditating, praying, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and eating mindfully. If anyone tells you otherwise, please don’t let their words make you feel inadequate. And if you catch yourself boasting that meditation is a cure-all, please think about the impact of your words. What might be well-intended advice can actually be harmful when someone is going through a particularly challenging time. The words, “Wow, that sounds awful” can be far more powerful than “Here, let me fix that for you.” And after all, one of the benefits of meditation is increased empathy and compassion.
Cynthia has practiced meditation most of her life, although she didn’t realize that was what she was doing when she was a child. She discovered Neurosculpting® as part of her preparation for a transformative trip to post-earthquake Haiti in 2012. In the midst of massive trauma, a meditation she had learned from Lisa Wimberger is what allowed her to navigate an intensely difficult situation on the ground in Haiti. She was immediately hooked and jumped at the chance to undertake the Tier 1 facilitator training in 2013. Since then she has also completed Tier 2 training and is excited about contributing to the expansion of the Neurosculpting® modality.
Cynthia is also a lifelong musician who holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Texas. In its own way, her doctoral dissertation is intimately connected to the meditative work that Cynthia is so enthusiastic about.
Cynthia is actively involved in social change movements, and she believes that meditation is integral to healing our society’s collective wounds. She enjoys bringing Neurosculpting® into spaces that are focused on creating a better world for us all, and providing a safe, nurturing environment for those who desire to cultivate compassion and empathy.