Live in a house of Aaaaahhh.

Today, an Inverse article says basically that meditation is overhyped. As someone who hypes meditation quite a bit, I want to address it.

I saw the article because my friend Merrill Barr tweeted it out and added “my friend Laura House teaches it for free on her podcast!”

So first, The Money Issue:

In a paper published Tuesday in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, a team of 15 psychiatrists, psychologists, and mindfulness experts…are concerned with… Lots of people… that have gotten overzealous as they make lots of money off of mindfulness therapies.

--Peter Hess, Inverse

(P.S. The article he references is called “Mind the Hype” -- good title!)

Oddly, I’m Team Inverse on this one. I’ve seen meditation teachers who I love over-promise results. I’ve been confounded when they called themselves “Consciousness Experts.” I’ve been afraid of doing it myself, and I probably have done it. But I really try to watch it.

The problem of teaching meditation for money is—how hard do you push? How effusive can you be? I’ll talk about meditation and its benefits all day long. But weirdly, when you’re considering learning meditation from me, I’ve got to be careful with my words. Because I’m not just saying, “Hey meditation in general is great.” I’m saying, “Hey meditation is great, give me money and I’ll show you.” I can’t just say, “Meditation will help you lose weight,” even though it’s had that effect on lots of people. Or, “Meditation will help you sleep better,” even though it’s done that for a lot of people, too.

The Truth is, I don’t know how meditation will affect you, because meditation affects everyone differently.

At the very least, like worst-case-scenario with meditation, you’ll relax a little.

But I’ve seen HUGE stuff, too. I taught someone who stopped smoking suddenly (while 40 year meditator David Lynch remains a chain smoker). Someone I taught who has chronic high blood pressure said her numbers plummeted after she started meditation. I’ve taught 2 women who finally got pregnant after they’d tried unsuccessfully for years. They both attribute it to meditation, so essentially I’ve made 4 children…

But do I say this to someone who might learn from me? It gets a bit into Snake Oil territory. I can’t say, “You’ll stop smoking and get pregnant and have stellar lab numbers by the end of the week.” Again, the Truth is, meditation affects everyone differently.

In my experience, people who are interested in meditation feel vulnerable.

It’s rarely, “Hey, I’m on top of the world, everything’s great and I thought I’d top it all off with a dollop of meditation.”

It’s much more often, “I’m stressed, I’m hurting, I don’t know what else to do. Can meditation help?”

Money + Vulnerable People. It’s the simple formula behind church money scandals and elder money-abuse HSN and fraud awfulness. Targeting people who are hurting and saying, “Hey, I can help…for some money,” seems like a real dick move.

On the other hand, meditation is great. I will speak about it effusively because it’s amazing. It gives you A BREAK FROM YOUR THOUGHTS. I’m about to type something graphic, please brace yourself. When people shoot themselves, it’s in the HEAD. All day long the head is like, “AAUUGH AUUGH ARRGHH!” Like we all have a head-based Sam Kinison screaming at us all day, “WHY DID YOU DO THAT? AUGH AUGH AUGH!!”

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Meditation is a simple technique, for sure. But you get the experience of WHAT’S ON THE OTHER SIDE OF YOUR THOUGHTS. Or under them or between them. We’re talking about inside your mind, doesn’t really matter what preposition we use. It’s like WE SEE OUR THOUGHTS FROM BACKSTAGE, “Oh look, my thoughts are out there doing their thing and I’m right here. Hm. Interesting.”

Instead of AAAUUGH! We get a dose of Aaaaahhh.

And that’s profound. Thoughts (can) feel torturous. Meditation gives relief. And regular meditation makes it easier to access that Aaaaahhh in the rest of your day. And the more times you meditate, it’s like you’re stockpiling little bricks of Aaaaahhh, till you can live in a house of Aaaaahhh.

MEDITATION BUILDS YOU A HOUSE OF AAAAAHHH!

See? I really do get carried away about meditation.  Sorrynotsorry.

In conclusion, Inverse says a lot of meditation teachers are over-promising with some proponents saying it can treat anxiety, cancer, and everything in between.” And studies don’t necessarily back that up, and when there’s money involved, motives can seem suspicious.

Okay. There’s not a magic pill, or magic mantra, that will make you never be sad again or immune to disease. Alright. But meditation does help alleviate the pain that can come from our incessant “want more, need more, can’t stop, won’t stop” mind.

So, think about all the stuff STRESS affects. You could argue that stress exacerbates health problems, heart problems. It leads to car accidents, to bad money decisions, bad relationship decisions. Tons of drinking. (I’m just talking about me now). General anxiety and/or malaise. There’s all kinds of stuff we hate that’s stress-related. (At the very least, it just doesn’t feel good.)

& Meditation helps us deal with STRESS. It’s a simple technique where you put some focus on your breath and you have thoughts and that’s fine, when you notice your attention isn’t on your breath, you put notice your breath again and let go of your thoughts. You get in a kind of drifty headspace for a few minutes. It settles the mind. Like holding a screaming toddler for a few minutes, to calm and settle them.

Meditation is like holding the screaming toddler of your mind. And that CAN have profound benefits. And THAT’S why people who teach it might overpromise it sometimes.

If you’re thinking about learning meditation, here’s my advice: Investigate. Look online, look at free stuff, try out some apps. There are lots of ways to meditate. You’re not going to do it wrong.  Try what feels good.

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Fun Showbiz Week!

When I moved to LA in my 20's, having just starred on an Mtv show I was SHOCKED, bewildered and disappointed at how normal and boring most days could be.  Even LA days??!! My little brain from Grand Prairie, Texas anticipated more. The only thing broadcast, obvi, is the exciting stuff - award shows and talk shows and home tours and edited content. 

But even in the exciting world of network TV, most days are getting gas, doing laundry & taking out the trash.

So, I'd like to take a moment to celebrate a FUN SHOWBIZ WEEK!!  

Here goes --

Went to my good friend Josh Paget's film festival screening.

Took my dog to a friend's for a doggie play date - which already is pretty first world. But, in our defense, she basically got kicked out of doggie day care. Anyway - She became OBSESSED with the neighbor's dog - which is Jason Priestley's dog.  Minnie will NOT leave that yappy little thing alone.  Yes, the dog is very cute in this pic, but when heard through a fence, it's just bark bark bark.

Friend Mark Thompson asked me to do his podcast & who was on it - Marilu Henner, who couldn't be nicer. Nardo!!!

Had a great set at the Laugh Factory last night.

I'm about to interview the awesome Kay Hanley from Letters to Cleo on my podcast Laura House at Large

Here and Now

& Tonight, I'm in this great show at the Comedy Central stage.

Oscar-level glam? Of course not. But still, FUN SHOWBIZ WEEK!

Kerouac on Meditation

Wow. I love Brain Pickings & this hit me hard --

Among the early converts (to meditation) in the 1950s was Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922–October 21, 1969), who became so besotted with the ancient practice that he extolled its rewards in a poem

HOW TO MEDITATE

— lights out —

fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
I hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance — Healing
all my sicknesses — erasing all — not
even the shred of a “I-hope-you” or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it out, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes — and
with joy you realize for the first time
“Thinking’s just like not thinking —
So I don’t have to think
any
more”

I've been teaching meditation for years & when I started, I was afraid meditation was weird or seemed weird. I wasn't sure of it. Is it bs or does it work? I was skeptical, but interested enough to give it a shot and it worked. It worked really well.  So I kept meditating and, this part's still a bit odd to me, I became a teacher.  Now I teach 2 types of meditation: Vedic and Mindfulness. 

What's weird, is not meditation, but that MOST PEOPLE DON'T MEDITATE. That's weird. Because it's been known to be effective for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Not-Meditation is way weirder than meditation. It's just a cultural thing that we aren't taught how to do it. But it looks like that's changing.

Meditation is becoming more known in the west, more popular and mainstream -- why? Because this is a STRESSED-ASS WORLD! It's simply SO necessary to take a break from thinking now and then. Not medding is like if you were always on your feet and never sat down, if your computer was always on and never powered down, or if you never turned the lights off in your home. 

from Brain Pickings:

Centuries after Montaigne contemplated the double meaning of meditation and decades before Western science confirmed what Eastern philosophy has known for millennia — that meditation is our greatest gateway to self-transcendence and that by transforming our minds it is actually transforming our bodies — Alan Watts began popularizing Eastern spiritual teachings in the West and meditation wove itself into the fabric of popular culture.

I'm so glad it's re-weaving itself into popular American culture.

By the way, it's not religious or anti-religious, any more than is a massage. It's like massage in another way, too--you don't have to believe in it for it work.