A couple of weeks ago, I was extolling the values of meditation to a young girl going through a rough time. By rough time I mean her mother has cancer. We talked and her eyes lit up. She hasn't been sleeping well and here was something that might be of some use in a situation where nothing ever proved useful. "I could meditate in the evening before I go to bed. Do you think it might help me sleep through the night?"
Sleeplessness makes everything bad worse. The idea of a non-intrusive non-medical aid is more than appealing. It sounds like a miracle. I thought the meditation might help her sleep better, but I added something I shouldn't have said. "If you have a goal when you meditate, you're not meditating. So, don't meditate in order to help you sleep. Just meditate." This was an idiotic thing to say. No one meditates to achieve nothing. In fact, what I said was true, it's important not to have a goal when you meditate, but none of us come to the practice of meditation without a goal in mind. I started to meditate to help me with my writing process. Others come to soften anxiety or to keep weight off. Once we begin to cultivate our practice, it becomes clear that meditation brings so much more and somewhat less than what we've hoped for. So, if I had the chance to go back and revise what I said to the young girl I would tell her something else. "Yes, it might help you sleep. Now, go meditate and learn what is possible."