Somehow, we have gotten to the point in 2021 where we need to clarify between proper meditation and pseudo-meditation, or what Jon Kabat Zinn [founder, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction] calls “McMindfulness”.
“McMindfulness” refers to the cheesy, commercialised form of meditation you will find in online videos and apps like Headspace and Calm.
As David Forbes, a professor of contemplative education at Brooklyn College, says, capitalism and our consumerist nature is destroying meditation. Our society and its focus on self-improvement, ego, and aggrandization, flies against the tradition of meditation from a religious and spiritual context. But worse than this, we have all been lied to.
Yes, as usual, we have all been lied to by brands who mislead us with erroneous advertising. It happens in food, in medicine, in… well… everywhere.
We have been lied to in order to buy into meditation products.
Simply put, the majority of meditation products do not work properly and are a poor replacement for actual meditation.
- 2019 research shows that meditation apps do not work
- 2021 research shows that app developers use research falsely to convince us to download their products. Note that virtually all independent research on meditation is done using proper meditation techniques and not apps.
- Worse, research shows that the vast majority of so-called “mindfulness apps” do not teach mindfulness at all.
- Somehow, everyone has been duped into believing that guided imagery is the same thing as meditation (here’s the difference between guided meditation and actual meditation).
What kills me is that now, after all this consumerism, next to no one understands what proper meditation is. Thankfully, I’m about to change that, as I explain the difference between proper meditation and McMindfulness.
Proper Meditation VS McMindfulness
If you truly want to glean the benefits of meditation, you need to practice proper meditation, not McMindfulness. So, what’s the difference?
McMindfulness is the overly consumerised version of meditation. It is usually done using an app or another commercial product that often requires a subscription. And, as we looked at above, it simply does not work.
So, what is “Proper Meditation”?
Proper meditation is the formal practice of traditional meditation techniques. It is usually done in silence and is taught via a trained expert. It most certainly does not involve being on your phone and it does not involve listening to “guided meditation” (which is more accurately called “Guided Imagery”).
The reason this matters so much is that proper meditation actually works. If you read through the research above, you will see that meditation apps a) do not work and b) often are not meditation at all. In other words, if you want to benefit from meditation you need to practice proper meditation and proper meditation techniques. And get off the phone.
A snapshot of proper meditation:
- Usually done seated and with proper posture.
- Uses proper meditation techniques (for instance, Anapansati, Vipassana, Samatha).
- Often done in silence (although not necessarily, as some meditations, such as mantras, involve sound).
- Taught by a meditation expert (if you look at the people who develop most meditation apps, and a lot of bloggers, you will find that most of them have no background in meditation).
- Involves actual mind training. If you are not putting any effort into your development, you are not meditating properly.
- Here, let me give you a guide to meditating at home the right way, no monthly subscription required.
How To Meditate Properly
You want to get the real benefits of meditation. And to do that you need to learn how to meditate properly. Here are some pointers that will help you avoid “McMindfulness” and enjoy the benefits of proper meditation.
1: Avoid the Cheese
There are a lot of cheesy meditation products on the market. I’m confident you’re smart enough to know the difference between proper meditation and cheesy, commercial products. Generally, speaking, if it involves being on your phone it probably is not proper meditation. After all, it’s hard to imagine Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh meditating with his phone.
2: Find a Proper Meditation Teacher
If you want to learn proper meditation techniques, you will need professional guidance. Find a meditation teacher who is an expert in teaching proper meditation techniques. I personally teach more than 30 forms of meditation and have more than 15 years of experience. What is most important is that you learn from someone who actually knows how to meditate properly. That sounds stupid, but in truth, most app developers and many online writers are not meditation experts.
3: Take it seriously
If you want to get the most out of meditation you have to take it seriously. If your idea of meditating is lying down and listening to a recording you are not really meditating, you’re just relaxing. You won’t get the same benefits from this as you will from proper meditation.
Consider that meditation is a form of mind training and is done for your health. With that in mind, you should take it as seriously as you would take therapy, exercise, and nutrition.
Now the good news
The good news is that if you do commit to proper meditation, and proper meditation techniques, you will enjoy a calm mind, a stress-free life, and optimal health and wellbeing. Yes, the benefits of mediation are real. The only thing you have to do is meditate properly.
I’d love to teach you proper meditation, but…
There is nothing in the world that would make me happier than teaching you to meditate properly. In my lessons I teach proper meditation techniques that genuinely work. And as an expert with more than fifteen years experience I am pretty confident in my abilities. And I know from my students that my lessons do wonders.
You don’t have to take a lesson with me. That really isn’t the point in me writing this. I’m writing this in the hope that you will not fall into the trap of “McMindfulness”, that you won’t use an app or other cheesy product. I hope that you will recognise the difference between McMindfulness and proper meditation. Because if you want to get the most out of meditation, you need to take it seriously. Get off the damn phone already and meditate properly.
Benefits of Meditation
Yoga chairs: Improve your asanas with a good yoga chair.