On Googling Meditation Images

(I’m only one chapter into this book and already I’m getting a lot out of it.

I’m hoping it will help me learn how to better support our sangha members dealing with trauma.)


This morning, I was googling meditation images. I was looking for one to accompany a quote I came across this morning in a new book I just started reading (see pic above), which I was posting on our sangha’s Facebook page: Be Here Now Community. Turns out, when you google meditation images, you kick up a lot of hoaky, woo-woo stuff.

Here’s the quote from the book I posted:

The practice of meditation is not a passive, navel-gazing luxury for people looking to escape the rigors of our complex world. Mindfulness and meditation are about deeply changing ourselves so that we can be the change that we see needed for the world.

– Larry Yang

Based on the images google showed me, it seems our collective understanding about meditation involves heightened experiences of transcendental bliss and ecstatic swells of elation. Apparently, if we practice sitting meditation, we should seek out such places as mountain tops overlooking the Himalayas, tropical beaches, or on a rock next to a waterfall. According to the images I came across, we would also be well served to meditate half-clothed – preferably in a sun-drenched locale – with well-defined abs. 

Geese. No wonder so many people are cynical about it or don’t stick with it once they try it. Unrealistic expectations much?

I wound up ditching my efforts to find a decent image of someone meditating to accompany the quote I was posting and used instead a calligraphy pic from Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m not interested in furthering misunderstandings about what meditation is through the usage of some romanticized/idealized image. So, here’s what I used instead:

3 thoughts on “On Googling Meditation Images

  1. Thay’s calligraphy says it all- Thank you for the book recommendation- I would love to read this and learn ways to better support Sangha members when they are experiencing a difficult time, and when I am feeling like I may not know the best thing to do. Inviting the bell and asking everyone to come back to their breath is core, but other ideas for helping with strong and painful sharings will help when I’m facilitating..
    Thank you dear friend!

    • This book really caught my attention when one of the UM psychology professors I saw on a mental health talk panel recently mentioned it as being a good resource, so I went online and purchased it for our mindfulness center’s library. The more I sit in sangha and listen to people’s sharings and the more I meet for one-on-one consults with members who are struggling, the more it has become clear to me that mindfulness and meditation are not a cure all when it comes to living with mental illness and in most cases should not be used as a sole means of support for folks who are struggling with such things as clinical depression, severe anxiety, PTSD, etc. While meditation and mindfulness practices can be enfolded into anyone’s life, some folks need more support than this practice can offer. And for some folks dealing with trauma, meditation may make things worse, which I’ve seen happen. I’ve seen too many folks avoiding therapy and medications and trying to use meditation to curb serious mental and emotional ailments, only to their detriment (not that medication is for everyone of course, either). This is an ongoing journey for sure but I am invested in helping support our sangha members the best I can, which also means knowing and understanding my limits, too.

      • Rings true for me. We’ve had discussions within our Sangha concerning how the practice and our Sangha gatherings are not therapy. It can be an adjunct, but not the sole support.

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