Feelings of peace, love, and joy in life. An easier time letting go of destructive thought and behavioral patterns. Direct experiences of communion with the Divine and of the Oneness of all things. Clearer thinking. Longer life. Better skin.
These are some of many benefits of regular meditation. Those of us who feel deeply aligned with the practice of meditation all vary in the reasons we prioritize it in our life. However, we can all agree there is immense value in meditation. Even those who are aware of meditation and have only dabbled a little in it, and those who are completely new, but open, can usually see its value as well.
But what about activism? What about changing the world, making a difference? What about the realities of war, environmental destruction, and starvation? What about domestic violence and the extinction of animal species?
“Meditating in a cave isn’t going to save the world.”
You may have heard someone say this before. It’s an exaggerated version (although one I’ve heard word-for-word) of the belief that only action, “doing something” is capable of making a difference in world events and affecting whether they take a turn for the worse or for the better. In many cases, those who arrange their lives around spirituality and meditation as their highest priority are seen as less valuable or powerful in making our world a better place than those who are “doing something.”
One of the first studies done on the link between meditation, global events, and peace was with the Transcendental Meditation technique founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (most people know him as the Beatles’ spiritual teacher). In the 198o’s, the first statistical analysis was published, based on large groups of meditators who went to Washington, D.C., meditated together, at the same time, and resulted in an 11% decrease violent crimes in the state. Other experiments with TM have been documented since then, resulting in as much as a 26% decrease in violent crimes. Other organizations of meditators have also conducted studies and noted other kinds of effects, such as decreases in environmental damage (see resources list at the bottom of this post for places you can read about that). There is a community of people in Fairfield, Iowa, who are devoted to the principle that the more people who meditate together, every day, at the same time, the greater harmony on Earth. Every day, nearly 2000 people there come together to meditate. This is the group I was part of before I moved to Patagonia to be a part of the Tree of Life community.
The reality that meditation has an immediate, direct effect on planetary events can be completely paradigm-shifting. A popping-out-of-the-matrix kind of realization. In a doing-based culture who believes that what is tangible and visible is more real than what is not, it can be challenging, or even blasphemous to some, to consider the holographic nature of the relationship between the inner peace of an individual and peace in the world. It can be odd to consider that a group of people, sitting in a room, focused within, can affect the choice of someone else to act violently or not that day. We realize something very important about Oneness: it is not just an ethereal, non-relevant idea, it can be seen life in real, measurable ways. What we do as individuals, affects the whole. What we do as groups, affects the whole. That is what oneness is.
It occurred to me the other day that another reason meditation is such a powerful and profound way to support humanity’s consciousness awakening is because it, by nature, requires one to release their attachment to outcomes. We all have ideas and beliefs about what the world will and can look like as a peaceful, conscious world. Often without realizing it, we have thought forms about what will happen in the world, what the future will look like (both good and bad), and what is really going on in all this mumbo-jumbo. When one is in meditation, all thought processes are minimized or ceased (ultimately, cessation of mental activity is what we’re going for in meditation). The space beyond the mind, beyond the body, and beyond this world of form, is accessed, and we commune with the Divine directly in that place. When we do, we energize, support, allow, and surrender to the flow of how consciousness is already unfolding on the planet, rather than the way we, with our extremely limited understanding of the bigger picture, think it should or will unfold. In my own mind, it’s like saying to God, “Okay, God, I know you’ve got a plan here that I’m not fully able to understand, and I surrender to whatever that is. Here’s my support, and here’s my demonstration of faith.”
A word here. I am not saying that a life of meditation and an inward, simple life is more valuable or powerful than a life of creation, doing, and activism. If I thought that, I’d stop writing to you and I’d go find myself a nice desert cave and tie myself to the wall (ok, kidding). They are simply different roles. They are different strategies, equally important, and absolutely fundamental for the same goal: bringing a greater level of happiness, connectedness, health, and peace to the world and facilitating the consciousness shift that is already happening. We each have our unique role, or dharma. Some of us are meant to create peace and change by meditation and other spiritual practices. Others are meant to create peace and change through organizations, projects, companies. Many of us are doing some of both, and the balance is unique to each person.
My main point comes back to this: Meditation is one of the most profound paths one can choose to create world change, for making a difference. It is just as powerful as any “doing” and action that we can do on the physical plane. Those whose highest priority is connection with the Divine, experiencing (not just intellectual knowing) Oneness, and cultivating a deeper and deeper feeling of peace within themselves are some of our greatest assets.
Love and inner stillness,
For more information on science and discussion on meditation’s impact on global events, please read the books Creating Peace by Being Peace by Gabriel Cousens, The Isaiah Effect by Gregg Braden. I’m sure there are many more books that talk about this topic!