‘Virtual’ is no substitute for reality!

One of the drawbacks surrounding social media and the massive amount of information on the internet is mental overload! Lots of people confess to feeling overwhelmed and at times, physically ‘sick’ while trying to sift through constant messaging, pressured advertising and great stretches of time lost in virtual reality. Our brain can really take only so much stimuli and the mental effort of teasing out and selecting what is really important can quickly lead to exhaustion – and a rise in anxiety.

At the Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre we’re in the business of calming those minds in an enriching way which helps to balance that stimulus. And yet, contrary to the very purpose of meditation, there’s ready access to all manner of styles of meditation via online products. Yes, it can be very helpful to download a meditation track for home practice. This is essential when access to professional teaching is not possible – and yes, a selection of my own audio recordings is available for that very purpose!

But a virtual experience can never equal all that is gained in the presence of a personalized teaching experience. This is especially so for beginners where the effects of meditation are magnified through a healing relationship established with an experienced teacher.
So, no matter how much reading has been carried out or how many audios listened to or how much information is gathered, none of these can replicate personal attention.

Let me expand a little on the way we work at the SMT Centre.

Though the success of SMT rests upon naturalness and simplicity, most people need some ‘left-brain’ material when embarking on a phase of learning. Meditation of any kind, by its very nature can seem a little too mysterious for some, especially for very practical personalities! The SMT teacher offers concrete explanation to help in understanding the function of what is about to be learned.
The teacher also provides instruction relating to the reasons behind correct physical posture. The SMT teacher is the anchor who provides personal attention, awareness of individual stories, needs, expectations and regular progress assessment. Thus clients develop trust and feel safe as they move towards ‘letting go’ and into non-attention and as they begin a healing journey of utter stillness. This level of vigilance and care is of particular assistance to those people whose anxiety levels are excessive. In this, the teacher helps to engage confidence and trust – while being able to answer the many questions that arise along the way.

Our style of meditation teaching is really an orchestration of energy. I’m often reminded of the similarity – and contrast – between conducting an SMT session and the role of the concert master – or conductor of the orchestra. Where in music, the conductor directs the creation of groupings of magnificent sound, led by the SMT teacher the meditating group creates a whole harmonious silence. In group silence as in music, there is chemistry, connection and communication to create a whole experience.

As the teacher’s appreciation of individual need is very important, gradually, like the resolution of a musical composition, personal interaction builds, opening the way for our clients to truly experience mental rest and, in time, the positive changes they are seeking.

Change takes time, each meditator progresses at their own pace and each has their ups and downs. The teacher’s physical presence contains the whole healing process and brings encouragement and reassurance when new experiences occur. Again, like a group of musicians in harmony, practice, routine and predictability creates a successful individual outcome and the eventual on-flow of calm. This enhances home practice and a way of living calm!

Perhaps it is tempting to rely on online meditation products – they appear to be easily accessible, there is no need to leave home or make much effort or any commitment, they cost very little and offer a kind of ‘try before you buy’. But there is a risk which reminds me of the old saying, you get what you pay for! Because – there is no audio or ‘fast track’ meditation on offer that can substitute for the healing energy of personal interaction, care and communication supplied within a therapeutic relationship. Experiment with the virtual by all means! But never expect lasting results.