Why Meditate ?
Meditation has only one meaning, and that is going beyond the mind and becoming a witness.” Osho
For all who travel the path of spiritual growth, meditation is the one practice that seems to be consistently required. Like most people I started to incorporate 20 minutes of meditation into my day without ever understanding why, and then I stopped. I could see no benefit in those often frustrating 20 minutes when the world dragged at me, nagging at my attention. Even on those days where meditation seemed to work, I never really noticed a difference in my day to day. So I reverted to an old habit, reading, in attempt to find someone who could tell me why I needed to meditate.
A quick Google search on ‘why meditate’ did nothing to alleviate my curiosity. Instead of a practical link to my life and my experiences I got vague promises of alleviating my stress and even more interesting, the promise that meditation will enable me to control my mind, which immediately made me ask the question how ? How does twenty minutes a day achieve all that ? I tried TM (transcendental meditation), with which I had some success, and then various other meditations guided, non-guided, open eyes, closed eyes, walking, sitting…and still found that my day to day reality was no different. I still got sucked into the drama. I was still being run by hair trigger emotions. So I put meditation aside and went looking for another answer, another way to find inner peace and control of my experiences.
I found a way to change my experience and claim all those benefits that meditation so vaguely offered and in so doing I also found meditation, almost as an afterthought – turns out, meditation is something I have always done, only I called it diving.
For almost a decade underwater was one place where I found the promised peace and quiet of meditation. Once my head sank beneath the surface the real world disappeared. No matter how stressed, angry, frustrated or sad I was, the moment I was under the water all that emotion dissolved away leaving a perfect quiet where I could hear myself think. Diving was the one place where I was not distracted by the world, it was the one place where I was left with just myself.
And that is the clue, the reason why you need to meditate, to be with yourself. We live in a world where no-one has time to just sit still and gaze into nothing. We always have to be doing. So we never stop and turn inward, never get to meet ourselves. Most of us don’t want to meet ourselves, we are scared that when we finally let go and take an honest look at who is there we will not like what we find but here is the thing, if you really want to live a life of abundance and joy… if you really want to release suffering… you have to claim yourself and to do that you have to see yourself, so that you can start to choose who you want to be and to start practice being that. It takes a leap of faith to let go and enter that fear, but there is a freedom to be found there when you know that who you are is not fixed, that you can change everything you find until who you are matches the life you want to live.
So what have I learnt about meditation ? I have learnt that it is not something you can do with a tape or a cd – the point is to remove the distraction, not give your mind something to else to focus on. Guided meditations have their place, but if your aim to awaken, then you need the silence. I have learnt that I meditate better when I am NOT meditating, so now I take long walks or sit on the lawn and watch the clouds go by and as sit doing absolutely nothing, I let my mind go. It is an art in itself allowing my mind to wander freely, to release control and so not get caught by memories, thoughts and events of my day. On the days I find myself falling back into that well entrenched practice of repeating my day and conversations, I practice taking a step back and watching, often I don’t even bother with those pesky thoughts, instead I re-centre myself with my set of affirmations, I am at peace, I am connected to the Divine, I am protected and then I remember vividly the life I am creating, I picture it in detail, and then I let it go….. and enter the space of creation that a silent meditation can bring.
It doesn’t matter how you find that space where your mind is let go, meditate, run, swim or just gaze at the clouds, it only matters that you find that time to do nothing, creating a silent space into which your true self, your soul, can finally grow.