When the mind is silenced and the body is still, worlds can unfold from the unfathomable depths of one’s soul. Not “other-worldly” worlds, but worlds from within. Worlds of one’s own mind stuff. Confusion begins to give way to clarity, frustration gives way to patience, compassion… as one begins to “see things as they REALLY are”. To merely sit and be witness to the arising and falling away of every thought, every sensation and to allow “what is” to simply be what it is, can liberate us from samsara - the ocean of suffering.
I’ve recently returned from another 10 day Vipassana silent meditation retreat. It truly is an experience of leaving earth for the journey to inner-space. Complete silence, and endless hours on the cushion with only your mind play and body sensations and the absence of smart phones and FaceBook, Instagram, What’sApp or email to validate your existence. We live in a world, a culture that bombards us with so many “standards”; how we should look, work, live, love, sleep, eat. What happens when we shut that all out and look deeply into the workings of our own mind, body and soul? TRUTH. Truth happens. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You are down the rabbit hole, the masks are off and there YOU are…
There is a myth about meditation: that you are to sit and empty your mind; that if you practice enough you will miraculously become all “zen-like” and peace will surround you and you will never be unhappy again. Maybe this is why so many people drop their meditation practice, feeling full of failure and defeat. Meditation is mind training. There’s no mystery here. The way is so simple, but so radically difficult for those of us raised in modern culture. Sitting meditation trains us to see into exactly what is with no attachments or aversions, preferences or prejudices, praise or blame, and simply accept all sensation, all thought processes and experiences with complete equanimity and to simply witness the arising and passing away of it all.
So why do we meditate? I compare it with going to the gym. We work out to build a strong body so we can carry those grocery bags more easily or have more energy and physical resilience. Ideally, when off the cushion, we learn to recognize where we place our attachments and cravings, as well as our aversions and resistance and how it all gets us into trouble. Meditation teaches us awareness - awareness of what is happening in our external environment, as well as our internal environment. We can find ourselves awakening to a greater mental resilience that helps us stay present, non-reactive, non-judgmental and ultimately, more peaceful, patient and compassionate. And, I don't know about you all, but I am always jivin' for more of THAT!
All this is just a drop in the bucket on the subject of meditation. Thousands of books have been written on this ancient practice. For me, it can all be summed up in one simple quote by Socrates: "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Explore the inner landscape!
Take the journey home to yourSelf!