Do you need to meditate, or do you need rest? Meditation and relaxation are often confused as the same thing, but there is a major difference. The commercialization of mindfulness and meditation has created an illusion that is more harmful than it is helpful. The truth is, going to the spa and getting a massage is not a meditative experience, any more than sitting and listening to high-frequency tones on a yoga mat. Rest benefits your body, mindfulness and meditation are for the benefit of your ego.
However, millions of Americans see a relaxed state as the end-all of meditative work, and why wouldn’t they? The “burn-out generation” has normalized being a workaholic. A day at the spa for this generation probably feels like a week-long vacation to their exhausted bodies.
A job and a side hustle, or entrepreneurship and a gig, are the defining characteristics of this generation’s time, which adds up to 70 to 80-hour workweek. Those who only have one job fall prey to the attractive benefits of overtime. Many understaffed companies are touting over time as an additional job benefit.
The normalization of this lifestyle is not only touted by understaffed companies, it is also the war-cry of the “hustle mentality” crowd. SquareSpace’s, 2021 Super Bowl commercial, further capitalized on the workaholic culture with their “5 to 9” commercial. They spoofed Dolly Parton’s, “9 to 5” hit song, into a celebration of the side hustle.
An entire generation has no idea what rest means. The commercialization of mindfulness and meditation brings quick and easy solutions to an exhausted collective. The wellness industry focuses on healthy ways to feel more energized and focused vs being rested.
As a result, the young generations today are no more healthy than the previous generations as a serious mental health crisis looms. The pandemic lockdowns caused many to go into crisis because they have no idea what to do without an overly busy schedule. In fact, many are discovering that they don’t enjoy the lives they have built, they were too busy to notice.
Rather than learning the real meaning of mindfulness and meditation, many are learning cheat codes on how to get one’s body to cooperate with the idea of being overworked and under-rested. The commercialization of meditation and mindfulness has resulted in the embracing of more unhealthy habits than ever. It has produced a generation that visits the local spa to combat the symptoms of exhaustion instead of resting. Most of all, there is a large collection of people who think they don’t know how to meditate because they are resting instead of doing meaningful work within.
So if the point of mindfulness and meditation is not to rest, what are you supposed to get out of mindfulness and meditation? The focus of mindfulness and meditation is transformation. If the “burn out” generation were practicing real mindfulness and meditation, we would see the biggest shift in culture in our lifetime. Not because of Covid-19, but the conscious actions of the people who refuse to accept the “norm” as normal.
We would see a true renaissance of talent, skill, and creativity as the majority would begin to explore the unique skills and talent that they bring to the table instead of focusing on making as much money as possible. The age of being a follower would swiftly come to an end as becoming an individual would be more admirable. The keywords would go from the hustle, get more, make more, and be more, to slow down, you have time, you don’t have to do it overnight, relax, you have a brand new day ahead of you. The best and most brilliant ideas come after a night of rest.
Before you sign up for another yoga class or workshop, rest. Take notes on how you feel as the week progresses. Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep each day and do something that you enjoy. Focus on what makes you happy that is not money-oriented. Read a book, learn something new, take up the arts, do something that engages your imagination and creativity. Do something that releases you from the pressure of performance and productivity.
When you get home, turn your phone off that has all the apps and alerts that equate to the dollar signs dancing in your head so you can focus on yourself. Snooze people on your social media feed who are constantly talking about money and making money. Change your settings to make people appear first who take time to smell the flowers and enjoy the sunset, those who enjoy the simple things in life.
Our society frowns on the idea of coming home and doing absolutely nothing, but trust me, this is should be a component of normal, everyday life. In fact, there are several cultures that practice sitting in complete silence and listening, this is the true form of mindfulness and meditation, being able to sit with yourself and hear your thoughts and feelings. Once you are well-rested and you have the ability to focus, then you are ready to learn about mindfulness and meditation and build upon a healthy foundation!