Secular Meditation: “If you can’t meditate for twenty minutes a day…”


clock in hand“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb

Almost as soon as I started meditating, I started hearing this proverb. It pops into my mind now and then: usually when I’m struggling with (or simply looking at) how to find time to practice every day, in a life that’s both overly packed and highly irregular.

Part of me gets it. And part of me thinks it’s totally classist, elitist, tone-deaf bullshit.

Part of me gets it. If my life is so packed with activity that I can’t find even twenty minutes to just sit still, then that’s a sign that I need to start scaling back. It’s a sign that the balance between activity and stillness in my life has gone haywire. It’s a sign that I’m taking on too much, and that I need to start saying “No” more often to more people. What’s more, if I’m telling myself that I don’t have time to meditate that day, it’s often a sign that there’s something I’m trying to avoid: some emotion or memory or anxiety that I’m furiously shoving into a corner with all my frenetic activity and that I know is going to start rising up the minute I sit down and start quietly focusing my awareness on my breath. And of course, there’s the little matter of priorities. If I can find time to dick around on Facebook or watch reruns of “Modern Family,” I can find time to meditate. For me, a big part of the point of meditation is to wean my brain off of needing constant stimulation and activity and input — so it’s worth looking at how much of the busy-ness of my life is legitimate and valuable, and how much is just generating noise to feed my sensation-junkie brain and distract me from uncomfortable truths that might come up in the silence.

So yes. Part of me gets this proverb, and resonates with it strongly.

gas station at nightBut part of me finds this proverb intensely irritating. There are an awful lot of people for whom a busy, action-packed life isn’t a luxury or a privilege, or even a choice. If you’re too busy to meditate for twenty minutes a day because you’re working one job at Wal-Mart and another at the gas station and you’re trying to get your car repaired and your laundry done and your kids to school, and you think this meditation thing might bring a modicum of calm to your life but you seriously have no idea how you’re going to find twenty spare minutes in your day to do it… is it really going to help for some smug Zen jackalope to tell you that (a) there’s something wrong with you because you don’t have twenty minutes of downtime in your day, and (b) the cure for what’s wrong with you is to find an hour of downtime in your day? With the implication of (b) being to loop around to (a) — that the lack of downtime in your life means there’s something wrong with you?

Fuck. That. Noise.

And even for me, who doesn’t work at the gas station or Wal-Mart… sure, there are plenty of times when “I don’t have twenty minutes a day to meditate” is crap, but there are some times when it’s legitimate. When I was in the final stages of finishing my upcoming book (“Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why”), pretty much everything other than the book got shoved onto the back burner. There were days when I didn’t shower, days when I didn’t leave the house, days when I didn’t see or even speak to another human being other than Ingrid, days when I took five minutes to make breakfast and another five to make lunch and ate at my computer. I got to the gym once in two months. Every spare minute that I had went into the book. What’s more, I was very socially isolated and in need of human contact (see above re: days when I didn’t leave the house): if I had twenty minutes to spare, I wanted to fill it with conversation or touch, not the sound of my own breath. It was a weird paradox: my ability to set aside distractions and stay single-mindedly focused on the book was very much aided by my meditation practice, but there were days when the practice was, itself, a distraction. I did keep it up (a freaking miracle, IMO), but there were a few days when I skipped it, and other days when I just did it for a few minutes, or crammed it in during stretches of enforced downtime. (On a bus? In a doctor’s waiting room? A fine time to squeeze in some focused awareness!)

And I did not need some long-dead Zen monk with no clue about the publishing industry scolding me for doing my meditation wrong.

(I also have an intense allergic reaction to writing about meditation that scolds people for doing it wrong. There’s a reason that almost all of my writing on this topic has been in the first person. A topic for another post, perhaps.)

I think my reaction to this proverb is so strong because the rightness of it is so right — and the wrongness is so wrong. There’s an important kernel of truth in there, and it’s one that I need to accept if I’m going to continue with this practice. If I let myself blow this off because life is hard, I’ll miss out on all the ways that it makes my life better. But there’s also a cluelessness in there, an out-of-touchness with human reality, that I not only can’t accept but don’t want to.

Not sure how I’m going to resolve this. For right now, for myself: If I’m thinking that I can’t sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day because I’m too busy, I try to take an honest look at what “too busy” means. And if “too busy” means “I’ve taken a careful look at my priorities and values, and today, twenty minutes of meditation just isn’t on that list”… then I meditate for ten minutes. Or five. During my full court press to finish the book, I found that even a five-minute meditation helped a lot in quieting my mind and restoring my focus… and it definitely helped me keep meditation as a near-daily habit, which I’ve resumed more fully now that the book is complete. If, on the other hand, “too busy” means “I can’t meditate, I have to blog about the Pope/ get my travel schedule into my calendar/ get my nails done/ fix people’s opinions on Facebook”… then yeah, okay. If I can’t meditate for twenty minutes a day because of all that, then I need to find a way to meditate for twenty minutes a day.

And if I can’t find a way to do that, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sit for an hour.

Comments

  1. Brandon says

    I could probably find time for still meditation, but I’d much rather go for a run. I’m not sure what that says about me, since I don’t think of myself as a hyperactive person.

  2. infiniteartsupplies says

    Greta, not sure why you’re taking issue with a Zen proverb when you don’t subscribe to Zen Buddhism anyway.
    And remember – Zen proverbs *are* willfully smug and designed to challenge (or indeed irritate).

    But, nevertheless, I think this one in particular is right on the money. We — especially us freelancers — have the freedom to set our own priorities, right? If you’ve found meditation to be an important contributing factor to your general well being, then perhaps it should be put even higher on your list of priorities than it already is. That being said, missing a day here and there or occasional short sessions are not something to beat yourself up about.

    On the practical side, I’ve been taught that, if all else fails, you can replace up to one hour of sleep with up to an hour of meditation. I’ve tried that – seems to work.

  3. Greta Christina says

    Greta, not sure why you’re taking issue with a Zen proverb when you don’t subscribe to Zen Buddhism anyway.

    infiniteartsupplies @ #2: Well, I’m not Catholic either, but I still take issue with the Catholic teaching that sex is sinful. If I think an idea is mistaken, harmful, or both, I can take issue with it even if I don’t ascribe to the religion or philosophy behind it. Especially if it’s widespread in the culture — and the “twenty minutes a day” thing is fairly widespread in meditation culture and teachings. I don’t think the “twenty minutes a day” thing is as mistaken or as harmful as the “sex is sinful” thing, but I think it has problems, and I see no reason I shouldn’t say so.

    And remember – Zen proverbs *are* willfully smug and designed to challenge (or indeed irritate).

    “Designed to challenge” I’m fine with. “Willfully smug,” not so much. (Although I will say that you’re the first person t Ive heard describe Zen proverbs that way.) “Designed to irritate” — that depends. Yes, sometimes people get irritated when we’re being challenged or questioned — but we also get irritated at other things, including having the same old victim-blamey bullshit we’ve dealt with our whole lives get shoved in our face one more time.

    We — especially us freelancers — have the freedom to set our own priorities, right?

    Do you really think that someone who works one job at Wal-Mart and another at the gas station and is trying to get their car repaired and their laundry done and their kids to school has the “freedom to set their own priorities”? And even for those of us with more privileged lives, that’s not always true — or rather, one set of choices can force another set. Sure, when I was finishing my book, I could have prioritized meditation and working out and other forms of self-care — if I’d been willing to blow off finishing the book. I chose to prioritize the long-term goal.

    If you’ve found meditation to be an important contributing factor to your general well being, then perhaps it should be put even higher on your list of priorities than it already is.

    I’ve already made it a pretty high priority. Maybe you missed the part where I said that, during my full court press on the book, I still meditated for at least a few minutes almost every day. (Also, maybe you missed the part where I expressed my distaste for writing about meditation that scolds people for doing it wrong.)

    That being said, missing a day here and there or occasional short sessions are not something to beat yourself up about.

    I’m not beating myself up about it. I’m pushing back against a commonly-voiced meditation teaching that seems to be attempting to beat me up about it. I’m fine with it. I’m slightly concerned about how to do this in a way that doesn’t lead to backsliding out of the habit, but I’m basically fine with it.

    On the practical side, I’ve been taught that, if all else fails, you can replace up to one hour of sleep with up to an hour of meditation. I’ve tried that – seems to work.

    Can I ask who taught you that? More importantly, can I ask if that’s backed up by any good medical research? I know there’s medical research on the effects of meditation, and I’ve seen some of it, but I’ve never seen any suggesting that it in small doses, it can be a substitute for sleep. In fact, current medical research very consistently shows that sleep deprivation is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. If a friend were asking for ideas on how to find time to meditate, I would never advise “cut into your sleep.”

  4. akg0710 says

    Hi Greta,

    I think this saying has the same limitation and requirements of any other one liner / sound bite. It’s useful because it’s catchy and helps us remember, but it, and many other one-liners, probably need anything from a one page description to an entire book to fully understand the meaning, and the limitations. Like everything else, it needs to be used in the right context. Maybe even the Zen monk wouldn’t quote it to a single parent with two jobs, laundry, school, etc. (we can hope, anyway :-))

    Just going off slightly off-topic… I’m a little nervous that what I’m saying can be taken as a justification for religious texts, i.e. the need for interpretation. I think you can probably answer this much better than me, but the important difference for me is that if there was too much negative interpretation associated with this, or any other saying, we would modify or discard the saying rather than live with the negative consequences.

    Thanks for your great writing.

  5. Dunc says

    Sure, when I was finishing my book, I could have prioritized meditation and working out and other forms of self-care — if I’d been willing to blow off finishing the book. I chose to prioritize the long-term goal.

    The Zen monk would almost certainly argue that you chose to prioritise an essentially meaningless short-term goal.

    And yes, I know perfectly well that getting your book finished is extremely important to you. The Zen monk would probably argue that that’s a large part of the problem.

    Please note: I am not a Zen monk.

  6. lucy1965 says

    The Zen monk would almost certainly argue that you chose to prioritise an essentially meaningless short-term goal.

    The theoretical Zen monk has other people seeing to it that zie is fed, has a safe place to sleep and is otherwise cared for while doing the work of meditation, which is a pretty privileged place from which to be making pronouncements on other people’s necessities.

  7. R Hayes says

    A non-theoretical Zen monk(ish) person like, say, Gary Snyder?

    No need to get all mad at a straw monk.

    A true Zen monk would say that working at Wal-Mart is enough nirvana for anybody, and that those who scorn working at Wal-Mart could most benefit from working at Wal-Mart.

  8. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    I don’t think that’s a real Zen proverb, do you? It’s a recommendation, probably from someone writing an article.

    Meanwhile, there have been times in my life when seemed too busy to do zazen — sitting meditation. I could still meditate by trying to do ordinary things perfectly and with pleasure in them.

    I could also micro-meditate for the space of a breath or three.

  9. Greta Christina says

    those who scorn working at Wal-Mart

    R Hayes @ #8: I don’t scorn those who work at Wal-Mart (and I don’t think anyone else in this thread who’s pushing back against this proverb does, either). I have great respect for people who work at Wal-Mart. What I think is that it’s a really hard fucking job that takes it out of you — and if you’re working one or two really hard fucking jobs that take it out of you, and you have a really hard life that takes it out of you, you legitimately might not have twenty minutes a day to meditate. And if that’s the case, I don’t this proverb is particularly helpful. I think it’s classist, tone-deaf bullshit. I think lucy1965 @ #7 hit the nail on the head: It’s easy to advise busy people to meditate for an hour a day when you’re well taken-care of and your own life is pretty privileged.

    Meanwhile, there have been times in my life when seemed too busy to do zazen — sitting meditation. I could still meditate by trying to do ordinary things perfectly and with pleasure in them.

    I could also micro-meditate for the space of a breath or three.

    Markita Lynda—threadrupt @ #9: Yes, I’ve been doing that as well, and have been finding it helpful. I try to do that periodically throughout my day anyway — but if I’m having a day when I really think I won’t be able to set aside twenty minutes, I make it more of a priority.

  10. A Masked Avenger says

    I pretty much agree with everything in this post.

    I’d comment, though, that actual Buddhists are probably not as struck by the wrongness of the advice, because they recognize that the advice as coming from a monk. Monks live in another world, and they give otherworldly advice, which the hearer can take if it’s useful or leave if it’s not. It may be a peculiarity of us westerners, that we feel a compulsion not just to meditate (or whatever), but to be the best damn meditator around. When someone urges us to meditate more, we don’t just say, “Great idea!” We hear judgment and condemnation. We’re doing it wrong.

    I have my own secular meditation practice, but have attended Buddhist retreats as a convenient way to meditate “full time.” The place was Theravadan, not Zen, so most attendees were Indian rather than Japanese, if that makes a difference. One thing I noticed was that the Indians were much more casual. More likely to leave in the middle of a session. More likely to make noise. The westerners were eager little overachievers, sitting stock still despite any amount of knee and back pain, looking pissed at every noise, staying through the session and continuing just a little after even the monks quit.

    That’s probably why, although I agree with you, the proverb never actually pissed me off. I always took it from the reference frame of an “ideal world.”

    There’s a story, for what it’s worth, of a monk being asked by a housewife in Thailand (who works harder than your hypothetical two-job-holding westerner) how she’s supposed to find time to meditate. He blathered about priorities, and she challenged him to live at her house and follow her around for a week. He did so, and admitted that she had no time at all. The story is usually told as a lead-in to “mindful housework” as a meditation in its own right, or similar practices like “using the door opening as a mindfulness bell.”

  11. lucy1965 says

    A non-theoretical Zen monk(ish) person like, say, Gary Snyder?

    No need to get all mad at a straw monk.

    I’m thinking more of the (married) roshi of my former zendo, which went away when he was found to be schtupping some of the students: donations were certainly sufficient to see to it that he wasn’t cleaning toilets to keep a roof over his head.

  12. lucy1965 says

    And before I’m asked for a citation, here you go.

    If this conversation continues, I’m going to be slow to respond: family member’s cancer diagnosis is worse than we hoped, and we’re trying to sell our home in the midst of it. Not a “don’t bother”, but an “other things are taking priority at present”.

  13. Foible says

    If you’re too busy to meditate for twenty minutes a day because you’re working one job at Wal-Mart and another at the gas station and you’re trying to get your car repaired and your laundry done and your kids to school, and you think this meditation thing might bring a modicum of calm to your life but you seriously have no idea how you’re going to find twenty spare minutes in your day to do it…

    Who is your martyr? Why is a person in these particular circumstances allowed to pass judgement? Is it because you see this as the worst possible life? Is this a life that no one would voluntarily choose to live? Why do you feel so comfortable speaking on behalf of this person? Don’t you get upset when people speak for hypothetical versions of you?

    You are really the Walmart person, aren’t you? Perhaps these jobs are attempts at sympathetic analogies to your own situation; Freelancing, juggling schedules, all without paid heath insurance. Perhaps this is the situation you fear happening to you, 24/7 responsibilities without end. Is this why you’re so quick and sure to speak for this person? Is this how you perceive yourself? The problem is that those job names conjure up stereotypes, not real people, and we shouldn’t pass judgement based on what stereotypes might think.

    Honestly look at your situation without the guilty feeling of how easy this should be for you. Find your own fit and please don’t worry about judging or being judged. Anyway, I hear the hypothetical Walmart person got a conference room on lunch break for a meditation group thanks to a sympathetic manager so it all worked out.

  14. Lea says

    So, sounds like you took a little Zen saying, got all caught up in a long thought-chain of rumination to the point where you felt that “someone” was judging and scolding you, and you got so irritated you even wrote a blog post on it. I can relate to that.

  15. Greta Christina says

    So, sounds like you took a little Zen saying, got all caught up in a long thought-chain of rumination to the point where you felt that “someone” was judging and scolding you, and you got so irritated you even wrote a blog post on it.

    Lea @ #15: Or, to put it another way: I spent some time thinking about a religious/ spiritual teaching, found aspects of it problematic, and wrote about it. Have you spent much time in this blog? That’s what I do.

    And when a writer or teacher says that you “should” do something, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see it as judging or scolding if you’re not doing it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing to do: I judge and scold people in this blog all the time. But if the judgement or scolding is unreasonable or out of touch with reality, I think it’s worth pointing out. Especially when the teaching is one that gets commonly repeated, as this one does.

  16. Lea says

    Yes, I am new to your blog, and I’ve enjoyed reading some of the other posts as well. Glad you are getting positive results from the meditation.

    I wouldn’t call that a “religious/spiritual teaching” though, at least not any more than I would “haste makes waste” or other folk wisdom proverbs and stories.

  17. Paul Zimmerle says

    (I slightly disagree with the blog post, please read the whole thing before replying. My criticism is more nuanced than a straight denial.)

    I have trouble calling something classist when it originated in a monk tradition that involved rejecting not merely class, but the material world entirely. I’m not saying it’s good advice, but if you take it out of the context of the tradition it was founded in, of course it’s going to fail for all of the people all of the time.

    Good advice should always be tempered by circumstance. I’m a little troubled by this trend of calling certain aphorisms “elitist” just because not everyone is capable of following them. We should take any advice given to us with a grain of salt.

    By the same token, “do what you love” is elitist because not everyone gets a choice in what they do, “eat a healthy diet” is elitist because not everyone gets a choice in what they can eat, and “get some exercise” and “read more” are elitist because not everyone has time to do that.

    Yet, do these phrases not also hold a kernel of truth?
    If our lives are limited, shouldn’t we try to find something we love to do so we don’t waste what precious time we have?
    When it’s possible, shouldn’t we try to eat a healthy diet and live better lives, because these produce measurable benefits in our lives?
    Shouldn’t we try to read more when we do have time, because that enriches our intellectual lives?

    Sure, if you shout “do what you love!” at the guy working in a coal mine, you’re an asshole, or if you shout “eat a healthy diet!” at someone with a limited budget and proscribed eating habits, you’re an ass.

    If you promote “do what you love” in a blog post saying that everyone can do it, you’re also ignorant, because not everyone can do it. That is elitist.

    But for some of the people, some of the time, this advice is relevant and helpful, and dismissing it as “elitist” is missing the point entirely. I hate to use the phrase, but it’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    What I think would be socially responsible is being aware of the fact that this advice is not universal, that there are people for whom they represent an unattainable ideal and pushing to them places undue pressure on them.

  18. Foible says

    Paul Zimmerle said:
    Sure, if you shout “do what you love!” at the guy working in a coal mine, you’re an asshole, or if you shout “eat a healthy diet!” at someone with a limited budget and proscribed eating habits, you’re an ass.

    Are all coal mining jobs unlovable? Are all people with limited budgets and proscribed eating habits sufficiently educated? I would think shouting those things at anybody would make you an ass but you seem to see it as exceptionally offensive to yell it at particular stereotypes of people.

    I tried to call Ms. Cristina on this kind of behavior but she chose not to reply. This isn’t limited to you and her, I’ve been following this phenomenon since I read an article by Lindey West at Jezabel claiming that an article in Men’s Health Magazine was damaging to short, chubby, disabled girls with abusive moms. The liberal blogs I read have this habit of creating hypothetical victims then rushing to defend them. We have the internet now, instead of speaking for coal miners consider sharing your pulpit with them. Let the people with limited budgets and proscribed eating habits voice their concerns, I doubt they’ll be what you think they are.

  19. Greta Christina says

    I have trouble calling something classist when it originated in a monk tradition that involved rejecting not merely class, but the material world entirely.

    Paul Zimmerle @ #18: As lucy1965 said above @ #7, “The theoretical Zen monk has other people seeing to it that zie is fed, has a safe place to sleep and is otherwise cared for while doing the work of meditation, which is a pretty privileged place from which to be making pronouncements on other people’s necessities.” it’s easy to reject the material world entirely when your material needs are taken care of; and it’s easy to say you’re rejecting class when you have a class of people whose job it is to take care of you.

    Who is your martyr? Why is a person in these particular circumstances allowed to pass judgement? Is it because you see this as the worst possible life? Is this a life that no one would voluntarily choose to live?

    Are all coal mining jobs unlovable?

    Foible @ #14 & #19: I am not saying that nobody could love these jobs or voluntarily choose to work at them. I am saying that (a) loved or not, voluntarily chosen or not, many people have difficult, exhausting jobs with very long hours, and it’s douchy to insist that of course they could find time and energy to meditate if they really wanted to; and (b) for many many many people, their jobs are very much not loved or voluntarily chosen, and the extremely long and exhausting hours they work are worked out of a need to survive — and it’s douchy to insist that of course they could find time and energy to meditate if they really wanted to.

    Oh, and as for this:

    I tried to call Ms. Cristina on this kind of behavior but she chose not to reply.

    If you’ve only been following this thread and have not been reading other posts in my blog, you may not have realized that, in addition to travel and other professional (and personal) commitments, I am currently finishing work on a book. I’m never obligated to respond to all commenters in any case, and I am always selective about where I spend my time and which comment threads to participate in and how much — but for the past several weeks, my time has been even more limited than usual. I do not owe that time to you, and you are not entitled to it.

    And finally: If you think overworked, underpaid blue collar workers who have to work multiple dead-end jobs in order to survive and feed their families are “hypothetical victims,” I have no interest in discussing this with you further.

  20. Foible says

    I never demanded your time Ms. Cristina, please don’t put words in my mouth. I was disappointed when you didn’t address my points and that state persists since they still remain unanswered. Let’s be clear here, my disappointment is my burden, I don’t want you getting any angrier over perceived obligations from strangers.

    Yes, I’m afraid that “overworked, underpaid blue collar workers who have to work multiple dead-end jobs in order to survive and feed their families” is just a stereotype. There are people who fit that description, no question, but when you start ascribing values and morals and even rights to your self-defined groups then you are engaging in bigotry. It doesn’t matter if you do it with the best of intentions, it is still bigotry.

    The problem with your hypothetical victims is that you do all the talking for them. Just like a Christian speaker saying “God says it’s a sin” you’re ducking the responsibility of defending your position by moving it to someone immune to questioning. I tried to make that point by usurping your Walmart worker example and giving them a positive result but I obviously failed to make myself clear.

    I guess this means you have no interest in further discussions with me but I’m afraid I can’t say the same. As we both claim to be atheists I may have to speak up (politely of course) when I feel you misrepresent us.

  21. Greta Christina says

    Foible @ #21: I see. So because I’m aware of the realities of class and increasing class immobility in the United States, based on my own experiences in the workplace as well as extensive conversations with and readings of writings by others about their own workplace experiences, I am guilty of stereotyping and bigotry. And even though as a woman I ask men to speak up about sexism, and as a queer I ask straight people to speak up about homophobia, and as an atheist I ask religious believers to speak up about anti-atheist stigma and bigotry, and even though I’ve heard and read countless marginalized people asking privileged people to speak up when they see bigotry and marginalization, somehow I’m doing something wrong by being a middle-class person speaking up about classism.

    Your concerns are noted. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Foible says

    Ms. Christina, I think you’re getting defensive (and dismissive and sarcastic) and that’s not the goal here. Neither is attacking your credentials, I am only referring to this specific post, not all the fantastic work you’ve done. In fact, every example you used in your list of accomplishments is of you letting others be heard, just what I suggested Paul Zimmerle do instead of his speaking for his hypothetical people.

    What I was talking about in the first place was where you used specific details building a person morally fit enough to judge a monk’s advice, and then you spoke for them. This is what I have been calling bigotry. Those are your opinions that follow, nobody else’s. You are hiding your own problem behind a fiction. This piece isn’t about class, it is about you and meditation.

  23. Greta Christina says

    In fact, every example you used in your list of accomplishments is of you letting others be heard, just what I suggested Paul Zimmerle do instead of his speaking for his hypothetical people.

    Foible @ #23: ????? I am now thoroughly confused. Why is it okay, and even admirable, for me to say that Asian Americans don’t like being told, “You speak the language so well”; that Hispanic Americans don’t like being asked, “Are you in this country legally?”; that African Americans don’t like having strangers come up to them and touch their hair; that transgender people don’t like being asked by strangers whether they’ve had genital surgery — but it’s not okay for me to say that people who work long hours at grueling jobs to make ends meet don’t like being told, ‘You could find time and energy for self-care and self-improvement if you really wanted to — and if you can’t, there’s something wrong with your life”?

    I’m not pulling this out of my ass. I’m basing it on readings by, and conversations with, people who work long hours at grueling jobs to make ends meet, or have done so in the past. And I’m basing it on my own years-long experiences working long hours at grueling jobs to make ends meet. It is not a “fiction.”

    You are hiding your own problem behind a fiction. This piece isn’t about class, it is about you and meditation.

    m-/

    Yes, I have already acknowledged, in the piece itself, that this piece is about my own experiences and issues with meditation and time management. It is also, in addition to that, about class, and the classism inherent in the proverb under discussion. Please spare me the amateur psychology. Your concerns are noted. Thank you for sharing.

  24. Foible says

    Asian Americans don’t like being told, “You speak the language so well”

    You are just making new stereotypes here, this is what you learned from research and listening? This is no more true about Asian Americans then the generalizations about their driving ability. I’m guessing you learned this from second generation and later Asian Americans who have been exposed to current class theory and have good diction, (Please note that my guess clearly reveals my own predjudices) that’s provincialism, generalizing your limited experiences to a whole group. If your sample of Asian Americans consisted of naturalized Hmong living in Lowell Massachusetts you could easilly come to the oposite conclusion. I could make similar points about your other gross generalizations but I hope you get the idea.

    I was disappointed when I read this reply, it means we are talking past each other and I really don’t understand your positions. I’ll take your suggestion and drop this now.

  25. Greta Christina says

    Foible @ #25: I see. You think it’s “stereotyping” and “bigotry” to be aware of general trends and preferences within demographics and subcultures; to be aware of common forms of insensitivity and cluelessness aimed at particular demographics and subcultures; and to err on the side of caution when certain words or actions are likely to offend large numbers of people within those demographics and subcultures — because there are some exceptions. Some women don’t mind being catcalled on the street, therefore we shouldn’t say anything about how catcalling women on the street is sexist. Some trans people don’t mind being asked about whether they’ve had genital surgery, therefore we shouldn’t say anything about how invasive it is to ask strangers questions about their genitals, or how offensive it is to treat trans people’s genitals as a matter of general public interest.

    I don’t think we’re “talking past each other.” I get your point. I just think your point is shaped like a corkscrew.

    Your concerns are noted. Thank you for sharing.

  26. Lilla Botlik says

    Quote from you: ‘I judge and scold people in this blog all the time.’ It’s is also possible to voice our opinions without judgment and scolding. When we judge and scold other people or ideas we judge and scold ourselves. That’s exactly the opposite I experience in meditation where acceptance and love prevails for myself and all. We always have a choice whoever we are and whatever our situation might be.

  27. Greta Christina says

    Quote from you: ‘I judge and scold people in this blog all the time.’ It’s is also possible to voice our opinions without judgment and scolding. When we judge and scold other people or ideas we judge and scold ourselves.

    Lilla Botlik @ #27: Well, when I’m confronted with racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, systematic oppression, the systematic perpetuation of poverty and economic injustice, rape culture, and so on, I kind of think that scolding and judgment are appropriate.

    How do you respond to these things? With acceptance? Forgive me, but I do not want to accept these things.

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