Sometimes my desire to meditate is about achieving something. Sometimes I desire a peaceful mental state I know is temporary. Other times I desire a deeper, more permanent peace that I imagine is compounding over my lifetime of meditation.

Sometimes my desire to meditate is about taking care of something. I feel scattered or stressed or upset, and I want to work through those feelings, whether for my own benefit or to protect the people around me.

Sometimes my desire to meditate is about belonging to something. I want to be a meditator, to be one of the people who advocates for meditation in the world… which of course can only be done in good faith by someone who meditates. Lots of problems in this category.

Sometimes, though, my desire to meditate is just a desire to be alone for a while. This is actually the most interesting category to me.

People often say that the hardest part of meditation for them is being alone with their thoughts. It’s also common to generalize this sentiment and say that meditation is uniquely difficult for “Westerners” because of this. I guess “Westerners” are supposed to be outgoing, gregarious extroverts who need constant human interaction. And the flip side of this is supposedly that “Westerners” all have monstrous, domineering egos that cry out in agony under the barest scrutiny of meditation. That’s so alien to me it actually makes me sad.

Why exactly is it that meditation is so ascendant in this “Western” culture that is also constantly pressing everyone ever closer together, with denser cities, a so-called “service economy,” and media that encourage every person on the planet to yell at the top of their lungs about themselves? Could it be because we’re losing our minds in this sea of others?