I recently attended a talk led by Dr. Paul Fleischman, psychiatrist and Vipassana meditation teacher, entitled "Meditation – A Path Through a World of Uncertainty." The purpose of the conversation was to cultivate inner peace, ultimately on a global scale. The philosopher Sartre famously noted that “Hell is other people.” However, Fleischman suggests that our biggest demon may be our own selves. He proposes that if we meditate twice a day, we may develop the skill of self-acceptance and learn to get along with ourselves.
Here’s a little bit of introductory information on Vipassana meditation: the word Vipassana itself means insight into the true nature of reality; this relates to impermanence, suffering, and realization of “non-self”. The meditation practice includes contemplation and introspection. One is aware and observes body sensations, with an objective to develop insight and acceptance. This practice uses the mindfulness of breathing – recognizing its qualities such as breath length or depth, as it constantly changes. Please review my post from January 2016 during my Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Dentistry series for more specific dental correlations with meditation.
Fleischman reminded us of the serenity prayer: it offers an awareness of our body, and peace with whatever arises in our body while we passively observe it. Fleischman additionally notes that on a global scale we are in “troubled” times, not “hard” times. We need to remember that our lives are actually blessed, full of opportunities and access to world culture. For this reason, meditation has become well-popularized in recent years.
Meditation offers clarity of the mind. It bridges self-respect with health of the mind and body. Fleischman notes that human beings have evolved to feel reverence; one way to get there is through meditation. It awakens and brings forth. He mentions that Buddha reminds us that all “things” are impermanent: our bodies, minds, friends, family, earth, sun, the galaxy. The universe is a combination of matter and energy, with an entropic dispersal factor. When we meditate, we have the opportunity to see the impermanence of our thoughts even. This realization offers a possibility to shift our perspective. Life lived for “you” is empty.
Interestingly, meditation is also a form of loneliness. Loneliness is a virtue; an opportunity to be true to ourselves. In the moment we close our eyes, we may gain comfort and familiarity with ourselves. You may realize that you are completely unique, and that there is no one like you.
A daily mantra that Fleischman supports is that today is an occasion to grow and develop in the goodness of our hearts. Every sentence spoken is brand new; an opportunity to begin fresh again. This sentiment I really think is profound and worth reiteration!
As said by meditator Sharon Salzberg, who recently led a month-long “loving kindness” meditation project, the best time to meditate is when you meditate :-) Even meditating for as short as two minutes will change your brain chemistry. If I had to say so, a great time though is at the start of your day and right in the middle. Taking a meditation break during a busy day is a great way to recharge and refocus. It is also a fantastic way to relax before an appointment at the dentist! Hopefully you are inspired to incorporate meditation into your daily routine for both a personal and greater good.