For minor issues, like a light cough or abdominal pain, a doctor might actually be able to cure you in a single session. However, a doctor’s true purpose comes out more on the major issues. For that, their job is to identify the root causes of what’s wrong and, perhaps, offer a direction towards wellness.
Similarly, thirty minutes of meditation can indeed remove minor anxiety, apathy or stress. However, all our minor mental-emotional issues are just like weeds in the farm field—you can chop them off a million times, but unless you get to roots, to the core causes, they will come back again and again.
In other words, the truer purpose of meditation is to reveal those roots to us, clearly and precisely, and to tune us deep enough into our intuition that we have a strong sense of direction.
An intensive retreat is a good way to reveal these root causes—it’s sort of like a surgery for the heart-mind, and at times is absolutely crucial. Although, just as the best medicine is a good diet, consistent exercise, sufficient sleep and a balanced lifestyle, so too does the best heart-mind wellness program unfold over the long term.
It will unfold as meditation becomes a foundation of your life. As you naturally want to do “formal” meditation every day. As you naturally find the meditative mind just sort of happening all by itself, whether you’re driving, eating, talking, pooping or whatever else. As you naturally start to make more intentional and skillful choices, both in the little things like what you have for lunch or choosing complements rather than complains, and in the big things like what job you take or what friends you keep.
In this sense, meditation definitely isn’t your standard western doctor, just looking for quick, superficial fixes—rather, it’s like a wise integrative doctor, using steady practice to bring awareness into your entire life—from your subtle inner reality to your life situation—showing you to yourself in order that you can conduct your days with a deeper sincerity.
Where to begin? A doctor’s visit, of course!