The Meditative Experience
(Sorry, this is a long one!)
(Image copyright ©1998 Humongous Entertainment)
As you probably know, another name for sitting still is meditation. That word comes from two Latin words "sto" to stand and "medio" the center. Thus the word meditation means to stand in the center. The idea is for one to be still, centered, fixed in the midst of everything around. How apt a word, this "meditation"! We, as a form arisen from the Pure Silence of being, stand or sit still in our lives, allowing everything around us, which indeed makes up our very consciousness, including our very selves, to simply be. There is no difference between doing that in daily living with eyes open or in quiet moments of serenity with our eyes closed. What is important is that to meditate - the "I" is "still." So what is there standing in the center? In the center of ourselves is the void, the nothingness, the silence itself. It is Pure Silence meeting itself in absolute union.
The "practice" of physical meditation is very simple. There are many forms, many traditions. The essence is simply to sit physically still and comfortable and be relaxed of body. This in itself seems very difficult to some. We are so used to being busy and always moving, and to relax is often very difficult. To many people, relaxation of body means only sleep. Meditation is by no means sleep. On the contrary, meditation is a way of being totally awake to everything in our lives. You can try this, it is not difficult. A child can do it!
You can use a chair with a straight back or simply sit on the floor in a cross-legged position. Close your eyes gently. Breath normally and once again "very gently." At this point, some traditions call for focusing on a mental image or the silent recitation of a mantra or word or an attentiveness to the breath itself for the duration of the time of meditation. I would suggest this as a good way to begin, if you've never done this before, as a way of maintaining some alertness and focus while learning to relax in stillness. This process may take a few days, weeks or months, until you are comfortable with the stillness. Meditate every day early in the morning and later in the day for 20-30 minutes each time. As you get comfortable you can sit longer. After practicing this for some time you are probably ready to meet the treasure of silence with great confidence.
Now comes the wonderful part - the letting go. This is the important part. As you sit still, now, consciously, let go of your immediate needs: the need to say a mantra or maintain any image, the need to move, the need to itch, the need to yawn, the need to go anywhere, the need to do anything. Simply let go, as if you are floating in a tranquil sea. No worries, no frustrations. Immediately, thoughts will arise. Ideas will arise about what you did today and what you must do tomorrow. They are only ideas-only thoughts-let them come and then disappear back into the silence. See them for what they are. You can say to yourself," these are not me, they are just thoughts." Continue to let go. Enjoy the silence. It is you: peaceful, quiet, loving and free. Whatever arises, let it come and then watch it depart.
Soon you may have thoughts about some unresolved problem or something you regret or perhaps someone that you hurt or someone who has hurt you. Allow these thoughts to come, linger a while, and then watch them disappear. See them for what they are-just more thoughts. They are not you. You are permanent, unchanging and always at peace. They are ripples on the pond and if you know anything about ripples, you should know that they come and they go. They move outwards until they are gone.
Some thoughts may arise from deep in your memory and you may rediscover unconscious and subconscious moments of your past, sometimes rather hurtful. As they arise, see them for what they are. Still they are thoughts. They may provoke strong emotions in you. They are not you; they are only memory. If you are following me you are noticing that everything that you have thought, felt and experienced in your life is there in your brain and by becoming still much will surface. There is a tremendous healing here. By the simple fact that the thoughts spring up and you confront them, you are wondrously freed of them forever and able to see them as they are: just thoughts.
As you get used to silence, you will be able to relax more and more and become more and more still. Whatever arises is OK. Just let it happen! Perhaps someday you will become so still that you are not aware of your body itself. That is OK. You are not merely your body. You are much more!
If you continue with this type of letting go meditation there may come a time when you will experience marvelous feelings of bliss and wonder and oneness with all creation. As with everything else, see all feelings for what they are: just thoughts rising and falling. What happens or occurs or the experiences are not important in themselves. This is a great reflection of life itself. Everything comes and goes and changes: through everything you are a still witness, watching, observing and understanding through a clarity of order and perception.
There may come a time, a moment, when in the silence you experience a space or time when the "you" is not. This is a beautiful, albeit initially frightening moment. There you were following some thought, watching everything very peacefully and suddenly there is a sensation of lost time or space. Where did you go? You might feel that you were somewhere but do not know where or for how long, and that is OK too. You have reached, or been graced with a marvelous insight. That is, when everything is gone: all thoughts, feelings, sensations, memory, dreams, body-you still ARE. Is there a significance? Perhaps simply that you are, and are more than all experiences. Within you are all experiences. You are the absolute gift of Pure Silence itself which contains everything.
"Back to your Life"
After your meditation, there is only one thing to do. Take what you have learned, felt and observed and bring this to daily life. That is all you can do. And that is THE only purpose of meditation. You have realized that the mind produces all kinds of things which come and go. It is a marvelous thing this organ called the brain. The brain allows the movement of energy and matter in neural cells. Thoughts are experienced and witnessed. They arise and disappear. It is the silence between them all which is always there. That is you. That is the awareness of being which contains you and is you right now. This silence allows you to be. Now you can model this and allow life around you to happen. See the coming and going. Enjoy the great movie itself. Watch, learn, listen, love. Standing in the center you have found silence: pure, limitless, perfection itself. That is you. Now go and face the world with this simple, gentle knowing: you are that! You are the Pure Silence of meditation itself. All the rest is wonder. Let it happen. Let it be.
Return to Written Word