There are many misunderstandings about the art of meditation. And as many ways to meditate as there different types of people. Key in all this is meditation is something to enjoy, it is the art of awareness, becoming conscious. It is the opportunity to connect to ‘source’ within yourself and the world. You can do this through dance, mudra, sitting, breathe, mantra, chant, mindfulness, visualization, tarot or simply living life. It is not what you do but how you do it.
What You are Told…
You may be told as a beginner that meditation will bring you relaxation, peace and lower blood pressure. You may, as an experienced meditator, hope it brings you enlightenment. What in fact happens seems to vary from person to person. You may, as a beginner, first become aware of the amount of tension both mental and physical that you are holding in your body-mind; you may try to do ‘it’ right without validating your own inner experience; or may simply feel lighter in your being.
What Meditation Can Do For YOU!
What meditation can do for you is bring you into an awareness of your body sensations, thoughts, feeling and imagery. You will, with a little practice, also connect with the energy of meditation, some call this source, others call it the mystery of life.
Gradually, you learn to detach from thoughts, often they slow down simply by watching them. Over time, meditation becomes less and less a process of doing and more one of being. Meditation is not a matter of stopping thoughts entirely as beginners often erroneously believe. It is about becoming conscious of your awareness. Your awareness may include your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, imagery or even sounds.
The point of meditation can de stated as ‘Know Thy Self’, which isn’t always a peaceful experience. Over the years, you get to experience it all in meditation, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Ending the Inner War
One teacher has suggested if we want to end war in the world, we need to end our own inner conflict. Meditation will help you do this. The inner process of reflection brings you to a deeper acceptance of life, yourself, and others. With it comes a deeper experience of what is called God, Universe, Source, Higher Power, Goddess, Spirit. You, of course, are God and so is everyone else. You are, at the very least, the unconscious creator of your responses and sometimes much more.
One of the great benefits of meditation is you can heal the paradox of separateness and unity with yourself and source, with yourself and others. You can feel connected with others and be yourself.
The following is a mini fable, not to be taken too seriously. There were once six blind men and an elephant. Each blind man experienced a different part of the elephant. One felt the leg and decided the elephant must be a kind of tree, so he became a Druid and honored trees; another felt the elephant’s tail and thought it might be some kind of snake, so he became a devotee of the Goddess and honored snakes. Each one described their experience of the elephant differently because they could not experience the whole. We are like the blind men; we do not experience the whole of reality. Our truth is limited by our perception. Somehow in the mysterious process of meditation we have the potential to transcend and glimpse a more expanded consciousness.
No one has or owns ‘The Truth’. Find a style or form of practice which feels right for you. Whatever style or brand of meditation you use, it will help bring you to a place of being more present in the here and now. It can be useful, over the years, to shift the form meditations take to accommodate where you are in your life and to keep your aliveness and interest in your meditation. It is helpful to pray if you can’t meditate. Dialogues with whatever your concept of ‘God’ can bring wisdom into your life.
Personally, I no longer subscribe to a religion or brand of spiritual practice. My background is in Western Mysticism, and I’ve explored all sorts of groups, and spiritual experiences. Wherever I travel, I enjoy the kindness of people and participate in their spiritual practices. So, whether I’m putting rice on my forehead in Bali or partaking of a Catholic mass, it’s an opportunity to be with an aspect of God. Always remember you are a part of the Divine, Source, Spirit…you are ‘That’. In one sense you are God…like a wave is part of an ocean. Sometimes one focus’ on the wave and once in a while, one is fully aware of the ocean.
Meditation, in general, can heighten our experience of the ordinary and take us into the realm of subtle perceptions beyond our usual limits. Meditation is not necessarily just sitting and breathing, it is whatever brings you to a greater awareness of spirit and heart-fulness. Lao-Tze says in the Tao Te Ching that sitting meditation is fine but meditation in motion is even better. Eventually our meditation is being awareness, whatever you may be doing.
The forms which meditation takes are only the devices to alleviate non-functional habits which we as adults have made our own. Among the many habits and illusions, we cultivate are ones like ‘thinking’ that if we worry our lives would work out better, or if we held our breath, perhaps we wouldn’t feel … or if we had money our lives would be perfect or if the other loved us or if we had the ideal body … anything to escape what is here now. Meditation has the potential to bring you into the moment, if you allow it. Ultimately it is not what meditation can do for you but what you do not bring to meditation which enlightens you … meditation is … a non-doing … an allowing … a letting go and letting everything be as it is. Being aware unconditionally….
YOU MAY DISCOVER HAPPINESS IS YOUR TRUE NATURE…OR PERHAPS THAT YOU ARE PURE AWARENSS, LOVE, BEAUTY, SPACIOUSNESS. YOU ARE THE UNFAMTHOMABLE MYSTERY.
YOU ARE THAT!