Let all circumstances, all happenings in life be occasions, constantly renewed, for learning more and ever more. ~ Mother Mirra Alfassa
Meditation is one of those “too big for itself” words. It seems to me to be a bit like saying “let’s talk about food.” They are both vast terms, each encompassing so much variation and flavor they are almost impossible to describe specifically.
So my qualifications for writing an article about meditation will have to be limited to my own experiences. (If you are wondering, I could tell you even less about food.) My hope is that you view this as a conversation instead of an article. I’ll share with you my experience, and I hope you will use the space below to share yours. In the process, I hope we all find ways to deepen our practice of meditation.
Meditation has become for me both a very personal and universal experience.
I started meditating for personal gain. I began with the stereotypical picture of yogis on mountaintops obtaining enlightenment and leaving the world behind. I had a goodbye-cruel-world mentality about the whole business: if I could be rid of my anxieties and worries and all the stuff that seemed to be imprisoning me, I’d be free!!! I actually expected some magical moment to happen in meditation and, voilà “see ya on the other side, suckas.” My ultimate goal, I’d say to friends half-jokingly, was to ascend into Heaven. At least I hoped I could get a mini vacation from anxiety and fear.
So immature, selfish and driven by fear, I started my practice.
I found that it did relax me. Most importantly, it would get me out of my own head—an excellent cure for “the thinks.”
Fast forward a number of years, and I still haven’t escaped the world. I’ve never so much as floated off the cushion for even a split second. And I haven’t had any great epiphanies as the result of meditation.
What I have learned is that by regularly engaging in an ongoing process of letting go of me and my stuff and connecting with whatever your name is for the Source of all Life Itself, there is a shift. Maybe ever so slightly, but a shift. The meditations have become less about me and more about a sense of me as connected to or part of God or Being, or whatever your name is for It.
And the effects go beyond the formal act of meditating. My experience is that the sense of being with Being is starting to carry over into the “real” world. One day, hopefully, the mini vacations will become an early retirement. But I no longer feel a need to escape. Meditation and prayer are leading me to real sense of freedom in those moments, in or out of formal meditation, when I am “there:” present, open to what is and what will be. It’s peaceful and secure and it doesn’t require any defense on my part. Maybe I am experiencing a shallow sense of what St. Francis of Assisi felt as a channel of God’s peace? I don’t know. And I am definitely not comparing myself to St. Francis! I still feel more like the seeker than one who has found. I am a work in progress.
“Fine,” you are probably thinking, “good for you, but what do you actually do?” The answer is I try not to do anything. I use the time to be. Sometimes I try to be. But trying to be feels like doing and it goes flat.
Anyway, what I “do” varies greatly. But I generally sit down, get quiet, read something or pray to get me in the right frame of mind, and then just let go. If my mind wanders, I let it. I become the watcher. If I slip out of watching and start following a thought, I simply bring myself back to my breath or I focus on my physical presence and enter back into being. I try to do this morning and night.
I also like to do a simple public walking meditation. I walk alone, and quietly say to myself as I see anyone, “there I AM.” I find it heightens my compassion and sense of oneness.
Okay, enough about me, your turn. What does meditation mean to you? What are its gifts? How do you share them? How do you practice? Let’s chat.