In many areas, the East has many things to teach to the West. And those on the subject of the use of the mind are the most important ones. India as well as China have made them into areas of research, experience and practice for a long time. Among these activities, those of meditation find today a new resonance. Certainly, the West knows them as well, ever since their coming from Asia, when they have found their place into some Greek wisdoms, some Kabbalists practices, and certain monastic rituals. But today, in our world they strike a particular chord in the current context, for several reasons.
First, because the frantic and unlimited pursuit of private happiness in the individualistic West, leads more and more people towards a narcissistic quest for self-awareness, of which meditation techniques are the best route of access. Then, and most importantly in my opinion, because these techniques refer to the major challenges of our societies, whose effects are starting to be felt.
1. There is evidence that the practice of meditation can increase productivity at work by improving concentration.
2. These improvements in concentration are also a prerequisite for progress in education: a child who has learned these techniques can not only concentrate better but be more altruistic and benevolent.
3. It is being realized that meditation contributes to a much better understanding of the root causes of brain diseases, which will soon be the leading cause of death worldwide, with increasing life expectancy.
4. Meditation finally leads one to hope to create the conditions to conquer his own violence, and change the very nature of society.
Take advantage of the summer to read, to look inside, to find out what mindfulness is. Many meditation techniques lead to it. If done properly the results are dramatically fast. They will encourage you to pursue this practice every day of the year. This will give you a sense of being useful for yourself and to others.
Take also the opportunity to think about the power of a political program that would include the huge impact that significant investments would have in these areas. An issue that not one of today’s politicians understand.
One can dream for example of the systematic learning of meditation at school, of its daily practice in companies, taking it into account in preventive and therapeutic medicine. One can dream of major scientific efforts to understand what is at stake in the brain during meditation practices.
In order for these techniques to be effective they must not be taken lightly when taught and they have meaning only through the methods used and the underlying themes. Otherwise, they can be used for the worse; for example, to disinhibit while confronted with the use of violence. So they find their meaning in the context of a system of values.
More generally, when it will be understood that neurosciences are one of the most important research areas for the future, and that it is at least as urgent to know every corner of the human brain than planet Mars, we will have made one giant leap for mankind.