Meditation and its redheaded stepsister mindfulness are currently sweeping through the Occident like a sandalwood-scented tsunami. You can’t swing a dead snow lion without hitting someone who’s been to a meditation seminar, retreat, class, symposium, workshop, or would just really, really like to try it. For, like, focus, you know? Focus and calm. And less stress. It does that, right?
My considerable and well-wrought snark aside, this is a good thing. While I’m attracted to meditation for one reason—the attainment of total enlightenment and its attendant powers of telekinesis and teleportation—many folks aren’t into that. Whatever your personal preferences, mo’ meditation, unlike mo’ money, generally doesn’t lead to mo’ problems. In fact, it generally leads to fewer. The mo’ meditation, the better, I’ve always said. Or at least thought to myself.
I dig that meditation is becoming more widespread, but I wish it were better understood. There are a lot of misconceptions, misapprehensions, and even some misapplications out there. It’s not easy to separate the real stuff from the insanely commercial, mass-media version of meditation that Western consumer culture has created.
In that spirit, I tried a little experiment I’d like to share with you. I went to some stock photography sites and typed in “meditation.” Here’s what I found.
1. White Women
White women were overwhelmingly represented, especially pretty, blonde white women. The vast majority of them are shown plopped down in beautiful locales, the number one being the ocean. This lovely lady may just kayak to a tiki bar after her refreshing sit by the sea.
2. Sexy Couples
Hot couples meditate together. There’s no point spending all that time in the gym making the outside so damn sexy if you’re not going tighten up the inside, too. There’s also no reason not to show off some of that finely toned outside while you sit.
3. Brown Women
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only beautiful white women clogging the meditation halls. There are beautiful brown women, too, although apparently in smaller numbers. I have no idea why she’s not sitting beside the ocean but I bet she’s visualizing herself there.
This would be the perfect storm of meditation if there were an Asian person represented. I didn’t come across many photos of Asians meditating in my search. I thought by law there had to be one crammed into this “Obviously Diverse Meditation Group,” but I was wrong.
Meditation has flooded the business world. It’s a great way to keep employees calm as they work 80-hour weeks making their overlords rich. It also helps them make peace with the fact that they’re drifting away from their families and lives. Oops. I mean, this guy looks serene in his nice office. Although I bet the floor where he dumped all the stuff from his desk is a mess.
6. Old people
Meditation is for everyone, not just the young, fit, and unbelievably tanned. Old people can meditate, too, although they’re going to look more uncomfortable doing it.
This stock photo tells me meditation will line up all of the weird traffic lights throughout my body. Wait, those are…chakras, I guess? So if you sit in front of a glowing pentacle, there’s at least a chance that your glowing buzz balls will balance. Is that right?
Don’t expect this right off the bat. It’s not something that comes easily. But if you meditate long enough, you’ll eventually be able to levitate. This guy hovered right out of his damn shoes. (I can’t say why his tie is also levitating.)
It’s not as well known as it should be, and I think it’s time to start talking about it: meditation will keep you from turning into a werewolf. If you’ve been bitten and are seriously fed up with your monthly transformations, give meditation a try. The increased focus and peace will help tame the beast inside.
These children are either the next generation of perfect office drones, or they’re being stealthily brainwashed into embracing Buddhism. I can’t tell from this angle. But shit are they a diverse group…
Brent R. Oliver is a writer based in Lexington, Kentucky.