What a group you are, you millennials. You are the largest living generation (those born roughly between the 80s and mid 2000s) and are a quarter of our population. And, man, marketers and experts are out to hone in on your buying power and to teach us all why and how you do things so we can understand how you live and work.
And, cringe, in this process you have been given some intensely negative labels. People profess that you have an out-of-proportion level of self-esteem, carry a sense of entitlement larger than a Big Gulp and have a lamer work ethic than the slackers of my generation. On the other hand, there are some equally potent positives. Your group is categorized as the most racially diverse in U.S. history, the best educated, digitally proficient (or as I just read – maybe it isn’t proficient but more technology dependent), you work well in groups and are socially liberal.
From my meditation teacher/practitioner perspective, I see ALL of these aspects as incredibly good, good, good and believe that meditation, dear millennials, is not only something that gels with what you already got goin’ on… but it can help you navigate some of your biggest challenges. Here are just a couple of couple of reasons why.
1. Meditation complements the millennial perception of being “special.”
I find it incredible that this is listed as a continual negative for millennials. Meditation aligns with this statement and teaches that each person is highly unique; that we have a purpose here on Earth that is indeed one-of-a-kind. If I lived my life thinking I was like everyone else, then let’s get on with the zombie apocalypse – it’s basically the same thing. I must have value. I can’t be here simply to take up space.
So, yes, yes… I believe wholeheartedly that I am special and somehow necessary… and SO are you; WE all are. And it makes me feel yummy and alive proclaiming that and feeling that.
Meditation also teaches us how to carry this presence of individuality and be it with grace, harmony and humility. Realizing that this is everyone’s gift; so the paradox is that we are unspecial in our specialness. We must hold our spark dearly but not too tightly as to suffocate its beauty.
2. Meditation challenges millennial multi-tasking and emphasizes the balance of technology and humanity.
Millennials use multiple screens simultaneously and prefer texting as their main communication method. Is the screen going to replace the art of face-to-face conversation? What about the understanding and reading body language and the nuance of spoken words? Is this generation going to lose parts of that? That question is not from the experts, it is mine.
I believe this is going to present a severe conundrum for millennials and generations to come… how to find balance; true human connection; peace in a continual swirl of rapid change, constant communication and buzzing updates. And, to embrace that multi-tasking, in all of its glory, not only decreases performance but also IQ.
How will you slow down when nothing around you ever stops or you can’t pull your head away from your phone? Because here is what’s important… at the heart of it, our human face-to-face, voice-to-voice, body-to-body connections will always be the most powerful and meaningful of all interactions. A meditation or mindfulness practice propels this truth to the forefront of you brain and soul and continually keeps you connected – yet unplugged – to the power of existence.
3. Meditation agrees with the millennial concept of work/life balance and doing work for more than just a paycheck.
Millennials don’t want work/life balance. They actually see the working world as it should be seen – as a component of their whole life experience. Yes, it is true, the two cannot be separated and should not. Finally, a collective of individuals that not only gets it, but demands it and accepts nothing less. That is exciting!
And, I can say this because I am, in my opinion, living my dream. I run my own business (dressing up when needed but mostly jean or workout clothes), I absolutely love it and wouldn’t settle for anything less. My meditation work is an extension of who I am and what I believe. On the flip side of “being one” with my job, I must also embrace that I don’t know everything (I have several wise teachers and learn continually from my students), that there will be ups and downs and there will be continual mundane aspects. I also choose to see these growth and/or “boring” components as beautiful and necessary attributes. Can you?
4. Meditation expands the millennial notion of tolerance.
Finally, I’m going to end with one of my favorite aspects of Generation Y. As I stated earlier, millennials are the embodiment of diversity that wonderfully equates to their accepting nature. Meditation is something that can lift this unifying spirit to the next level.
When you learn to love yourself through meditation (which, in this vein, isn’t narcissistic but “realistic” and with humor)… it expands your love for everything and everyone else. Millennials, if you feel you are compassionate now, think of what you could be. This could be your greatest gift.
My last words. Meditation has granted me access to the bigger picture. It has taught me to embrace the past, commit to the now and play a role in what will be. Everyone is a teacher – no matter what age, background or proficiency. Limit no one, including yourself. Millennials have many goodies to share that could help lift us all… if they are willing to look at themselves (and we are willing to look at them) in quiet with humility, bravery, excitement and without judgement.