Meditation practice does not cultivate inner strength. We cultivate our strengths based on the kind of food we have fed our minds. If we have fed our minds with perceptions of fear and dislike or with endless experiences of pleasures, we can easily see that one with such a mind tends to be more reactive and stressed in their outer appearance. The fear and anger emanating from a mind clinging to pleasures when there is no more pleasure to be experienced, or fear and anger manifesting from disliking something are common mental conditions in our society.
Having been a meditation practitioner for seven years, I cannot claim to have cultivated any inner strength. While physical body strength can be cultivated in yoga asanas and gyms, a strong body can also disintegrate suddenly into illness, leaving the mind nowhere to run but to look at itself.
Many people are unaware of this, much less interested to read what is written here. Meditation does not cultivate inner strength in the mind, as so many would like to believe. Meditation does not help you cultivate a superpower human mind so that it has strength to fulfil all the daydreams and the desires of your life. Life is fleeting, and we spend our time grasping onto that little moment that passes by incessantly before we lose what we call life and become afraid. Meditation alone cannot help one overcome the fear or anxiety of what is to come at death, for what is beyond death is an unknown, and we have become accustomed to knowing and accumulating knowledge in this world.
That is unless one realizes that the true practice of meditation is to know that one does not know anything at all. Meditation is not the practice to strengthen our ego or to help us conquer our unceasing desires. In fact, using meditation to pursue more of that grasping of passing memories causes more stress. I do not think stress is equated with inner strength.
The only way to cultivate inner strength using meditation is to start living in the present moment. In that present moment awareness, we always know the intentions of our actions. By keeping our intentions aligned with compassion and peace, we live with a clear conscience. Instead of being confused about what we have done each day, we can become confident in reviewing our day as a day well spent, not harming ourselves by being angry – thus also benefiting others with our calm and peace.
Being aware moment to moment, we begin to make choices that will always bear the fruits of friendship and kindness towards ourselves and with others. Our outer appearance changes to that of peace, unburdened with the confusion of our intentions, actions and the burden we carry from our daily actions.
Thus, meditation cultivates inner strength in humility. Being humble with knowing we do not know anything at all, and just learning to listen and to smile, is the greatest inner strength.