As I battled with sleep, which in my experience is exceedingly powerful and not easily swayed, I tried to invoke all possible arguments. I presented what it says in the teachings about the benefits of meditation, the scientific research, and even my own personal experience. My sleepy self was still not persuaded. All my arguments were true, but through their familiarity they seemed to have lost their potency. Sleep had too much time to develop counter-arguments.
So, when I finally managed to extricate myself from sleep’s strong grip (not because I had convinced myself of the benefits of meditation, but because my partner gave me a shot of strong Italian espresso), I decided to ask some other people—who from my acting days I remembered as the audiences that were the most fresh and genuine, those under the age of 18— why on earth they would engage in this insane endeavour of meditation.
This is what they said:
“By meditating, I find a way to shine through (at least a little bit) the stories and monkey-thoughts that take me over. And that is very refreshing, uplifting and strengthening. For me, meditation is getting real (or waking up).”
“I meditate to pull the weight of a long day off my shoulders so that I can move on and enjoy life to the fullest.”
“I meditate when I am very stressed about something, or I need help making a decision. Especially the last one. If I can clear my head out and then think, of course I will make a better choice. I think meditation is something that can do that.”
“I think it's good to meditate when you are stressed, or when you have a fight with friends... It really makes me feel calm. Most of the time when my mother asks me to meditate, I don't want to, but when I finally do it, I feel very happy and I'm quite proud of myself.”
“Most of my experience of meditation comes from sitting with Sogyal Rinpoche. Then, it becomes very easy... Meditation fills the whole of space. My mind feels empty, a good feeling like being in a big balloon of warmth and happiness.”
“I meditate because it makes me feel peaceful and calm. Once I was sick and couldn’t go to sleep because I was coughing so much, so I practiced, then everything settled and I could sleep.”
“I meditate to calm down and to clear my mind. Sometimes when I do my homework and I get upset if I cannot concentrate, I just meditate looking at a picture of the Buddha (or Guru Rinpoche). It helps me to calm down, focus and I feel stronger inside.”
“I meditate, so that throughout the day I feel more relaxed and not so stressed, and also, to clear my mind when I am upset or angry at people.”
“Especially when angry or stressed, meditation calms me down by refocusing me. Then, I understand that all my anxieties do not really exist and that there are much more important things in life.“
Sounds quite good! Maybe I should try it…
Why do you meditate? (Please don’t tell my sleepy self, however. I need to use the element of surprise tomorrow morning!)