I’ve repeatedly heard about a particular obstacle from several people after their first meditation course and I want to express my perspective on the subject. The concern is a fear that meditation will drive them away from something they love, like dancing, cheeseburgers, music, or sex, because of this understanding that serious meditators don’t pursue these sensual pleasures.
Over the last few years I’ve grappled with this issue of what it means to be a serious meditator. Early on in my practice I renounced these things because I thought that was the right thing to do. It seemed logical that if the goal was to become liberated I should force myself to live as much like a monk as I could tolerate. I now take myself much less seriously. If I enjoy something, and want it, like a cheeseburger, I go and eat it. I don’t over think it. My desire to eat cheeseburgers is much less frequent, and I don’t eat many of them anymore, but I no longer confront this battle of overcoming my desire for meat.
Vipassana acts on my life in a much subtler way. The major shifts are with my attitude and my ability to accept myself and the world in the present. It doesn’t really change who I am but actually makes me act more like myself. Maybe some of these sensual desires will disappear eventually, but it would be a shame for anyone to miss out on all the benefits of meditation because of the fear of losing something that might never go away in this lifetime. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but that’s my take. These days, I’m excited to just be me. Time to meditate.