I teach meditation, and one question I hear a lot is a variation on this. “Is meditation a selfish pursuit, or can it really help change the world? And if so, how?”
Maybe you have that same question?
I’ve thought deeply about this, and based on a recent meditation festival I attended, I want to propose an answer for you to contemplate. But first, let me back up. I want to tell you a little about this incredible meditation gathering.
A Spiritual Feast
This past weekend I participated in what I have been told was the first meditation festival ever held in France. For two days, over 350 people gathered in a multi-level yoga center in Paris to experience 18 different styles of meditation.
I arrived wondering if an event featuring so many different meditation traditions and techniques would create confusion for people. On the contrary, I discovered something unexpected. The two days unfolded seamlessly as a whole in spite of the variety of experiences that were available.
It was like attending a two-day wine tasting, but the distinctions of the individual wines weren’t what people focused on. Instead, it was the love for wine and the communal act of tasting that people were sharing. In the same way, all of us who attended this meditation festival shared a love for higher consciousness and a deep respect for all the practices that take us there.
I quickly forgot about all these different styles of meditation. I was spending time with people who were in love with expanded awareness, people who cared deeply about its potential to change our world. That love is what we shared for two days as we basked in the intimacy of meditation.
And now, a week later, I am thinking about the potential of an event like this and how meditation can change the world. The festival was a wonderful experience, but more importantly it gave us a vision that responds to the most pressing need of our time.
Our world needs us to awaken, not just individually but also collectively. Yes, we each need to ground ourselves in deeper awareness. But the real reason to do that is so that we can meet each other in those depths. From there, we can discover a different way of being that will recreate the world. The obvious question is…how?
Can Meditation Change the World?
During the last festival session, we experienced the type of poignant moment that can happen after spending time in a life-changing experience together. Many people asked the question that often comes to mind at such moments. “It’s one thing to experience depth and intimacy in a meditation festival, surrounded by other meditators, but what happens when I am back in my ‘normal’ life? How do I live this?”
I don’t believe that individual attempts to bring higher consciousness into the world will create a new future. None of us on our own is strong enough to lift up the world. If we are going to create real change, I believe it will happen through coming together in solidarity and mutual inspiration. Through that connection, we can bring a new quality of relationship into the world.
Harnessing The Afterglow
To answer the question, “How do I live this?,” I suggested that we use the precious afterglow of the weekend to make at least one connection to follow up on. At first a surge of excitement ran through the room. It was quickly followed by a shudder of hesitation.
We all love connecting with people in this spiritually rich way, but we hesitate to accept responsibility for adding new relationships to our already full lives. Perhaps the person we connect with won’t be as wonderful as we assumed; or perhaps they will, and then what?
Spiritual relationships ask for a level of care and commitment that honors that depth connection. Our society hasn’t prepared us to relate at such a depth, and yet we have to learn how, because our world is depending on it.
Building a Global Matrix
Soon after the event, I heard from numerous people that they had followed through on my suggestion, and exchanged contact information. I myself met a number of people that I intend to be in touch with now that I am back in the US.
Imagine if every one of us who attends an alternative spiritual event during the upcoming year were to follow up on one new friendship after the event. How many connections would be made? How many spiritual friendships would be created?
By doing this, we would build a profound matrix of relatedness that would span the globe. What would be the effect of engaging in this level of networking by the end of one year, or two, or five, or ten?
I don’t believe that meditation will change the world, but I do believe that spiritual relationships born out of our mutual love for higher consciousness will. Let’s use this space to keep building that love.
By Jeff Carreira
Jeff Carreira is a transformation educator and contemporary spiritual teacher dedicated to finding new and powerful ways to catalyze and facilitate human development. Jeff is the co-leader of the Evolutionary Collective and he is a regular contributor to About Meditation. Jeff has authored three ebooks on meditation, philosophy, and collective awakening, which you can download here.