EMAIL NUMBER 66
Reasons For and Against Meditation
Scott P. Scheper
Orange County, California
Thursday, 1:59 p.m.
The tl;dr version is this:
You should only meditate if you're an atheist or a transexual.
(But also seriously).
No, but really——here's the actual deal:
I don't know if this has been your experience, but here's mine with meditation...
I'll be going about my life, doing my own thing, and then one day I'll be listening to a podcast interview with someone I respect.
During the interview, the person will bring up the topic of meditation, and present it as their "secret to success."
For instance, in one interview, Yuval Noah Harari——author of the bestselling book Sapiens——professed that he couldn't have written his book without practicing meditation for two hours per day.
"I'm trying to explain the entirety of human history in a 400-page book," he said. "Without meditation, this task would've been impossible."
Some weeks will go by, and I'll find myself listening to another podcast, such as one with the bestselling author Robert Greene. I'll then learn that his work underwent a "profound transformation" when he started meditating ten years ago.
A list of others who meditate includes:
- Comedian, Jerry Seinfeld
- Author, Tim Ferriss
- Investor, Naval Ravikant
- Author, Sam Harris
- Producer Rick Ruben
- And former president, Donald Trump
(I'm kidding about the last one.)
But seriously, when these people talk about meditation, it's as if they've discovered the secret to happiness and success.
What usually follows is I'll begin practicing meditation myself.
I'll do thirty minutes for a few days, then settle into a ten-minute per day routine.
This may go on for a few weeks, or even a few months. But at some point I'll stop because the results aren't very "tangible."
After a while, I'll begin to recognize that meditation isn't the "secret to success and happiness."
Let's start with the "success" part (meaning the money part):
All you have to do is look at the Forbes Top Ten Billionaires List to find people who do not meditate.
For instance, the billionaire investors Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger don't meditate——but they seem perfectly happy and successful.
Or look at Elon Musk——he's profoundly successful (at least at the time of this writing)——but he's on the record saying he doesn't find meditation particularly helpful.
So What Are the Reasons For and the Reasons Against Meditation?
Let's start with the reasons against meditation.
If your goal is to accumulate wealth, then there really isn't a good reason to meditate.
In fact, out of the top ten wealthiest people, there is only one who meditates——Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle.
Therefore, it seems "wealth accumulation" really isn't a good reason to meditate.
So Why Meditate Then?!
The reasons for meditation revolve around better clarity, better decision-making, and more tranquility.
When our mind is constantly racing with thoughts, we're effectively unplugged from reality.
And being unplugged from reality hampers our ability to make wise decisions.
We escape reality by living in our mind.
Meditation allows you to slow down and observe the (sometimes freaking chaotic) thoughts racing through your mind.
After meditating, your day feels more tranquil than a day spent with chaotic thoughts racing around your mind.
As Seneca put it, "Nothing is a better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man's ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company."
Here's another way of looking at it: A life of 95 years comes out to 34,675 days.
If all of those days were 20% more tranquil because of meditation——and you desire a tranquil life——then that's a good reason to meditate.
Basically, if you wish to optimize for Net-Tranquility over Net-Worth, then that's a good reason to meditate.
But is "Net-Tranquility" the only good reason to meditate?
No, it's not.
And here's why: If you look at the people who meditate, you'll find many of them to be authors and intellectuals.
Not just in our modern times——but also throughout history.
Take the seventeenth-century scientist and philosopher, Robert Boyle. He practiced meditation while he was still a boy, and continued meditating throughout his entire life.
Or take the intellectual Aldous Huxley, who meditated.
Or even the Catholic intellectual, Antonin Sertillanges, who said, "Meditation is so essential to the thinker that we need not urge it anew."
Essentially, not only is meditation useful in providing more tranquility, but it's also useful in developing better thinking.
So now we have two reasons to meditate:
First, to optimize for "Net-Tranquility," and second, to optimize for "Net-Thinking."
Now at this point, you probably think that I meditate and that you should, too.
But that's not the case.
I think people today go way overboard with meditation.
They turn it into a daily practice and feel guilty when they miss a day.
I think there are plenty of good alternatives to mediation——for instance, reading.
In fact, if we take another look at the top ten billionaires list, nine of them don't meditate——but most of them are voracious readers.
So perhaps it's not the practice of mediation that's valuable, but the practice of slowing down the mind that is.
In doing so, one optimizes not only for Net-Tranquility and Net-Thinking——but, judging by the top ten billionaire's list——also Net-Worth.
So, here is my practical prescription:
Don't Worry About Meditating Every Day.
Sure, add it to your toolkit, and use it on demand when your mind is particularly scattered——like once a week.
However, don't fret about turning it into a daily ritual.
I would advise, however, that you do have a regular practice for slowing down your mind.
This can be through meditation, prayer, reading, journaling, or whatever.
There's also a powerful practice for slowing down the mind, which I've found to be a game changer——especially if you're an independent writer or creator who wants to make a six-figure living working for yourself.
This will come as no surprise to my Scheperians (a.k.a., subscribers of my physical monthly newsletter).
The practice I'm referring to is called "neuroimprinting." That is, taking a piece of writing, and writing it out yourself by hand.
I do this with great sales letters in order to get better at selling products online.
But neuroimprinting is not just for practical purposes.
I also neuroimprint pieces of literature with seemingly little practical value.
For instance, I've been slowly but surely neuroimprinting The Great Gatsby over the past year.
I even neuroimprint poetry from Rupert Brooke, a poet who F. Scott Fitzgerald looked up to.
There is no "direct" practical purpose for neuroimprinting such, but I find the process to be meditative——and much more enjoyable than sitting there doing nothing.
If you subscribe to The Scott Scheper Letter, then you're already familiar with this practice (being that I give you a piece of writing to neuroimprint at the end of every letter).
But for everyone else, it's something to try if you haven't already.
And stay crispy, my friend.
Scott P. Scheper
"A Man Who Doesn't Meditate (At Least Regularly)"
Thursday, 4:29 p.m.