Note: You may want to check out the interview with me on Armen Shirvanian’s blog, Timeless Information. He posed some great questions that I enjoyed responding to.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
As I look back, I can see that meditation saved me. Before I started meditating, I had had many years of therapy, but somehow I still wasn’t happy. It was 1995 (ages ago!). I had been reading about Buddhism for a year, but was avoiding meditation like a peeping tom avoids knocking on the door. I was curious and interested, but was too scared to actually sit in silence with myself.
I finally bit the bullet, and the true healing began.
The beauty of meditation is that we intentionally stop the momentum of our patterns so we can see what we are really experiencing. When we unconsciously play out our habits and addictions day after day, year after year, nothing changes. We may try to modify our thoughts or analyze our childhoods, but the root of the problem still exists.
Meditation is the dam on the rushing river that allows us to discover what the swirls and eddies are all about. It puts an end to avoidance and rationalizing, and invites us to directly investigate our actual experiences in the moment and come to peace with them.
Sitting in quiet offers the possibility of deconstructing our habits. Over time, we begin to see that we run the same boring stories through our minds or that our bodies are wrought with tension that we never noticed before. These illuminating observations are almost impossible when we are traveling through our lives at warp speed.
How It Works
Say that you have a tendency to snack mindlessly at night. Most people would agree that this kind of eating is about dodging emotions rather than assuaging hunger. In meditation, you stop acting on the momentum of this pattern. You feel the urge to snack, but make the choice to explore your inner experiences instead.
Here is where a whole new world opens up! It might be uncomfortable, but you finally see the feeling of fear or lack that has been driving you. A behavior as seemingly mundane as snacking can lead you to a deep understanding of your most basic belief systems and world views.
And when all of this is allowed space to be in meditation – specific emotions, contractions in the body, churning thoughts – you are able to make a conscious choice about what you want to do. You learn that these driving forces can be a part of your experience, and you can refrain from acting on them. This is true freedom.
The Secret Treasure
As these identities and habits begin to fall away, the ultimate secret treasure of meditation is revealed. We discover that in between the stories and emotions is space. When we explore the space, we see that it is clear, alive, shining, and expansive.
And it is steady and enduring. We see that our experiences come and go, but this aliveness is always here. This is the space of the unconditioned, prior to any learning. It is obscured by our busy minds, but completely available to be discovered. Here is sanity and peace.
Have you ever had the experience of intense well-being come over you for no reason or an insight that the objects of the world are not real or your heart so filled with love that it is impossible to contain in your physical body? This is the unconditioned, pure consciousness, always present.
And if you haven’t had these experiences, no cause to be concerned. Once you commit to self-discovery, the identities that you take to be you will eventually begin to shed, and glimpses of this essence, your true nature, will be available.
Sitting quietly is a refuge, and offers an incredible opportunity that brings us back to ourselves. The next post will offer the how-to of meditation. I welcome any questions and would love to hear about your experiences with meditating.
“If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events. It is your restlessness that causes chaos.”
For more on meditation, take a look at this article.