by r. e. flections
(note: this essay is being written as a neophyte, not as a master... so please take it for what it's worth.)
i recently benefited from experiencing a 10-day silent meditation ‘getaway’ – with very few distractions. many have found this kind of training to be helpful.
with practice, the eventual process is to direct (or control) thoughts enough to actively share/experience more peace, Love, compassion and ease in life. as we experience more of a Unified existence, we re-recognize that giving (sharing, volunteering, offering) Love, peace and compassion IS the process of experiencing/receiving it.
more than a few friends have asked about the 10-day silent meditation experience, so here’s a quick, 3-point summary of my reflections on meditation:
2. it can not be done ‘wrong.’
3. it can be practiced anytime, anywhere, by anyone, with anyone, for any length of time… for free.
everyone meditates (from time to time)
meditation is a focused awareness (a ‘paying of attention’) that is so singular and so present that (when experienced), competing thoughts momentarily fade away. it can happen naturally, such as when:
- gazing into the eyes of a laughing baby.
- losing one-self in a sunset.
- getting lost in Love (Love with a Capital ‘L’).
- observing nature (a bird in flight, a fish in stream, etc.)
- prayer (my mother used to pray the catholic 'rosary,' which placed her in a meditative, sometimes euphoric state of faith-full bliss).
- sneezing; sports (e.g. driving a golf ball); orgasm… and probably even the act of sipping a beer!
outside of the obvious (e.g. making better behavioral choices), benefits are derived by clearing the mind of clutter – therefore becoming more mind-full. due to innate self-defense mechanisms, most of our base thoughts are negative. we are 'cued-up' to notice potential negativity, in order to protect ourselves from potential harm. for this reason, many of our thoughts are stress-full, and that type of chronic distress is associated with dis-ease.
the unfocused mind is also captivated at random, so many of our thoughts are random, conflicting and stress producing. most of our worries are about future events that will either (a) never take place, or (b) are uncontrollable. many of our negative thoughts about past events (shame, blame, regret, guilt) are focused on things that (a) cannot be changed, and (b) were likely perceived differently by others. mentally, we tend to expand, exaggerate and multiply past pain in order to avoid future pain.
the net result is reduced awareness of the present. meditation is the process of mindfully experiencing the now moment as the only reality that we can possibly ever know, from a very personal perspective. the best thing about practicing this focused, aware, mindfulness is that we cannot do it wrong.
meditation cannot be done ‘wrong’
dr. joan borysenko emphasizes that our ‘worst’ meditations are (in actuality) fantastic! if our mind wanders away from center several times, we have the opportunity to re-cognize the mental drift, and we can return to center. for example, if the centering method is to ‘focus on the breath,’ we can return to the breath (again, and again, and again) as we recognize that thoughts have temporarily altered our mindfulness. heck, we can even practice being mindful of how mindless the mind can be! :)
admittedly, there can be some benefits to both random thoughts (creativity?) and negative thoughts (safety?). meditation isn’t about being completely focused, 100% of the time. the practice of meditation is about being more mindful, more often – especially in situations where we’ll benefit from that kind of mindfulness. think about it: would our relationships be more fruitful if we were able to pay more attention to those who we relate to?
in a relative world, our ego (or sense of separate-self) is bound to experience bouts of fear and distress (leading to some level of ‘misery’). personally, i do not see how it would be possible to completely transcend the ego-self here, in this apparently physical world. we can, however (with practice), re-Cognize the many, many ways that we are not separate, but rather, Connected to the All that IS. when that sense of isolated self disappears, if only temporarily, we ‘Une’ or Unite with our Uni-Verse. interestingly enough, the word ‘yoga’ means ‘Union.’
like building a muscle, however, meditation does entail active practice. think, for a moment, about what happens when we don’t practice moving our muscles.
meditation can be practiced anytime, anywhere, by anyone, with anyone, and for any length of time.
think of mind-full-ness as a continuum:
completely mindless <<--------------------------------->> completely mindful
if we used a scale, say, from 0-to-100% of the time… humans would benefit from a collective increase in mindfulness. i’ll even go out on a limb and suggest that the whole planet would benefit with increased human mindfulness. do we have to be 100% mindful? of course not. if, however, we take ourselves from 1% to 2%, we will experience benefits.
please -- do not blindly believe any of this.
try practicing (even a tiny bit) for yourself, and come to your own conclusions.
an ego-ic sense of separation can lead to judgment, criticism, resentment, anxiety, anger, violence and war. a Uni-fied sense of Connection can result in communication, cooperation, empathy, support, assistance, peace and Love.
while the ‘practice’ of meditation is often experienced internally, we can take that internal experience and apply it in our daily lives. we can practice mindful meditation while driving, for example.
read the preceding paragraph again, and ask yourself which kind of highway would you rather be a passenger on: did you choose the ego-ic highway, or the cooperative highway? personally, i’ve experienced being mindless on the highway, and i’ll avoid that, in the future.
even if it were a mindless mess on the highway,
there would be benefits in being in a vehicle with a mindful driver.
meditation is not a religion, although mankind has utilized meditative techniques along with religious practices throughout his-story. mindful meditation does not discriminate. some people find it easier to practice with another individual or with a group. others benefit from a solitary experience.
the biggest barrier to meditation is (most likely) a perceived lack of time. the truth is, a person can practice meditation for seconds at a time. in Reality, isn’t that the only option?
just as we are not “punished for our sins, but by our sins,” we receive as the process of giving. allow me to explain the ‘sin’ statement: when we make a mis-take, our physical body immediately produces chemical chain-reactions that immediately do the body harm. this is “being punished by our sins.” have you ever experienced this? think about the last time that you made a negative comment that hurt someone. mindfully speaking, how did you feel during (and after) the comment? even if you were ‘right,’ (be honest with yourself), how did you feel?
mindful meditation can help us to observe more of the Big Picture, to ‘see’ more clearly and to avoid the many pitfalls that accompany mindless behavior. we can learn that our addictions/attachments can be released, providing us with more and more control of our present, which will undoubtedly lead to more presents in our future.
meditation isn’t ‘mystical’ or religious. any-body can play (in fact, we all do [at times]). the technique is quite scientific, and you’ll probably be reading a lot more about meditation research in the future. meditation techniques can be practiced, and the mind (both the mental and ‘physical’) can benefit. there are many benefits to meditation, from basic awareness to more of an enlightened (Loving, compassionate) approach to everyday living.
try it for a minute. simply pay attention to your breath, for starters. when the mind wanders (as all minds do), simply bring it back to the breath, and start again. imagine – if we could look back at our lives, and start again (knowing everything that we know now). with meditation, we can start again (and again and again…) and we all-ready know everything that we know – right Now.
my personal belief differs slightly from the training that i recently received. i believe that there isn’t a ‘goal to achieve’ with meditation -- outside of the practice itself. the practice is the process is the experience is the reward. in that way, the success is in the practice, and therefore (with practice), success is assured.
final note: as with any written or spoken word, do not blindly believe that the spoutings in this essay are true. what matters is, what is true for you. conduct your own research, and embark on your own experi-mental processes. don’t do anything, if you don’t want to. we live, we learn, automatically. if and when we want a little more control over our future experiences, we now have a tool (in and as a Present) to assist us in the process…
[i] martino, j. (8.15-1.16). reflections on meditation. book 77: shift. © 2016 by wellnesseducation.us.
[ii] borysenko, j. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQv72w4PvQk