Will meditation ever become a fashion trend?

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in schools that teach yoga in the West. However, as with all commercialization, the true message of yoga, which is about the union of mind, body, and spirit rather than body image and fitness, is often lost.

In yoga, awareness plays a key role through observing the breath and focusing attention on the body's sensations. Some schools, which are perhaps closest to the authentic tradition, also incorporate meditation since yoga originated as a form of meditation called raja yoga about 4,000 years ago.

While yoga can be commercialized and detached from its authentic roots, the same cannot be said for meditation. At worst, meditation can be considered a relaxation technique, but it cannot be reduced to that. Meditation techniques vary in emphasis, such as concentration (e.g., samatha technique) or awareness (e.g., vipassana technique). It does not qualify as meditation if other factors like relaxation, calmness, or stillness are emphasized. The benefits of meditation are the natural outcomes of practice, not the goals we strive to achieve.

Meditation is a profound practice that, when followed correctly, leads to the realization of one's being. Realizing what I truly am means perceiving reality without filters, interpretations, or even the illusion of a personal self, an identity, an ego, or a personality within the body. Meditation is the path to liberation from all these illusions.

Those who attempt to commercialize meditation will face great difficulty because there is nothing to sell. Meditation does not require purchasing anything. At most, one may need a towel or a pillow to sit on while cross-legged on the floor (although one can also meditate in a chair). Anyone who claims that buying Buddha figurines, relaxation songs, posters, symbols, candles, or any other items is necessary for meditation is simply seeking profit. Such practices only reinforce the identity that says "I am a professional meditator," and this strengthens the ego.

Meditation is an inner journey that takes place within us, within the space of awareness, because everything we need to know about ourselves exists within us. Even when we interact with others, we are aware of the phenomena that occur within us, such as bodily sensations, feelings, emotions, sense perceptions, and thoughts.

Therefore, meditation can never become a mere fashion trend. Meditation entails dismantling the illusion of the egoic self and everything associated with the sense of separateness from the whole. On the other hand, fashion trends nurture illusions about a self-image and reinforce the ego's need to imitate and overshadow the spontaneous and authentic expression of life.

If meditation were to become a widespread and collective practice, it would be a result of our exhaustion from living with the symptoms of ignorance about our true nature. When mental disorders, psychosomatic symptoms, and all other forms of suffering and unhappiness become unbearable, we may consciously choose to embark on the greatest journey of our lives: returning to our source, discovering the true nature of the Self, and dissolving all the apparent distances created by the mind.

Nikos Batras