… I don’t want to live with so much stress, anxiety, frustration, and disappointment.
… I like how much easier and more rewarding my relationships with others are getting.
… I want to make better, easier choices in life.
… I can’t stand feeling self-conscious anymore.
… I want to like myself more than I already do.
… I’m sick of the old patterns & stories I carry around that color my life in ways I don’t like but I can’t get rid of.
… I want to know who and what I really am, and why I’m here.
Those are a few reasons I meditate—one for each day of the past week. In a broader sense, meditation is a great adventure. When we sit still and close out as much of the external world as we can, we discover an equally large, equally expansive world inside. It’s a world that’s very hard to access without some kind of deliberate practice. And developing the ability to travel there and back at will brings a level of peace and contentment to life that’s probably impossible to know otherwise.
A number of you shared your thoughts over the week. You like the fresh perspective and lighter feeling you get after meditating—even for just 30 minutes (though that can be achieved even with as little as 5 or 10 minutes). You see meditation as something you do just for yourself, though at least one person recognized that friends and family also benefit because you can be more present for them. You notice increased strength and resilience from your meditation practice.
One person observed that meditation enables us to listen to our bodies instead of just our minds—and this is a way of “finding ourselves.” This is so profound. Our bodies contain wisdom that is far vaster than our minds. This is not a put-down of, or judgment against, the mind. I love my mind, and I’m grateful for everything it has enabled me to do and accomplish—there is no way I could have made it here to write this if not for my mind. But meditation has revealed that my mind is not the only source of intelligence I have. My body is a font of intelligence more pure, more authentic, and more powerful than my mind could ever be. And it’s hard to describe the thrill—and relief—you feel when you finally come to know that inner wisdom. I don’t know any way of doing that other than by meditation or similar practices, and it doesn’t usually take that long after beginning a practice to start to discover this.
And fortunately, a number of you acknowledged that meditation can be scary! One person even poignantly owned that sometimes they don’t meditate because they can’t bear to find themself. I say fortunately, because it’s true, so why hide it?, and if you’re aware of that kind of fear, then your meditation practice is definitely paying off. I certainly don’t want to turn anyone off of meditation, but it’s worth recognizing that meditation (like psychotherapy) takes courage. We are used to living predominantly through our minds, and like with all deeply ingrained habits, we give that up only slowly, gradually, and with great resistance. Until we start to see what it’s like to live through the parts of us that are independent of the mind, and we start to trust the process, it’s scary to face letting go of the primary lens through which we’ve experienced the world and our lives. The fear remains throughout our practice, but it gets easier to bear, and we come to appreciate the opening it presents to a deeper awareness of our true selves.
So thanks for joining me on this exploration. It’s extremely difficult to sustain a meditation practice entirely on one’s own. Sitting with a group and sharing experiences, realizations, and challenges can help a lot. Let’s stay in touch and support one another.