Meditation isn’t merely about resting, calming the mind, settling the body, and regrouping. Sure, those are great benefits of a meditation practice and can be experienced literally within the first minutes of your very first sitting. But the practice of meditation runs much deeper than that. Meditation is unmanufactured awareness.
When we find ourselves stressed, overwhelmed, stuck, depressed, we can be sure it’s because we’ve lost sight of the present moment. But more importantly, that sense of confusion or feeling unsettled is actually a sign that we are looking for relief of some sort.
If we look around us, we may notice that in the West, many of us are confused, anxious, stuck, and emotionally hungry. Even though we have the materialistic comforts for the most part, our lives aren’t completely shattered due to war, we drive cars on paved roads and have running water and decent lives, there’s still quite a bit of emotional anxiety around us.
As a Western society, our chronic state of anxiety and/or depression has created all sorts of behavior modifications, psychotherapy and drug therapies and research into how to change it.
But that’s what is different about the Buddhist path. In this approach, and the very reason I’ve chosen to follow it for myself, is that instead of looking for a “way out” of the confusion and anxiety, we accept and begin right where we are.
There is no place to go.
There is nothing to fix.
Nothing is wrong.
Our very basic ground state of being is one of basic goodness.
Instead of looking for a cure for our confusion, anxiety or depression, we examine our present state of being and work backward, looking closely at the sources of our very desire to “fix” something about ourselves and our state of being.
In this approach, we start with what we are and why we are searching.
So how do we go about doing that?
We begin with getting still.
Meditation isn’t about trying to stop thinking. Instead it’s about noticing the thoughts as they arise and allowing them to be. To be able to have access again to our ground state of being which is already whole and complete, we must recognize how we’ve allowed ourselves to be hooked by the stories and conversations we tell ourselves in our own minds. Most times, we don’t even question the thoughts, perceptions, judgments or beliefs and instead believe our own thinking.
When we believe our own thoughts without question, we create a sort of wall of separation between our true selves and our projections. But the wall is just an illusion we have invented, it doesn’t really even exist.
The problem is that we don’t see that.
We think the wall is real and we believe our internal dialog without investigation. When we in turn do that, we literally imprison ourselves in our own misperceptions of what is real.
Struggling to get out of this “jail” we’ve created for ourselves only serves to further entrap us in its snare. Like the animal tightening its own noose while struggling to free itself from a trap.
The whole problem develops out of our forgetting the fact that we made the wall in the first place! There’s simply no way we can maintain the wall all the time. And, we don’t see that there are gaps in the wall itself.
If we could just give up the struggle and look plainly, objectively and consciously at the wall, we could see those gaps. We could see the sun shining through the cracks.
Sometimes, it’s painful being ourselves. But inside of life’s struggles, distractions and disappointments is our basic ground state which is whole and complete.
We simply have to regard our emotions as a part of our limbs. They are impossible to ignore.
Our minds can’t be altered or changed, only somewhat clarified. We have to come back to what we are rather than try to reform ourselves into something else. This is the very basis of Buddhist Psychology. We are not trying to reform or fix something, we are instead bringing an unmanufactured awareness to our current state of being.
This is meditation.
When we can accept and investigate who we are, even inside of our self-dislike and not wanting to really see ourselves, we can begin to bring a friendliness to ourselves.
This is why I consider myself a spiritual friend and mentor. The goal of meditation, mindfulness and contemplative psychotherapy is to help you become friends with yourself and reconnect with your basic ground state of being, not make yourself wrong for having thoughts and try to control them.
When we do that, a sense of peace and calm naturally follows.
When you are in meditation and find yourself thinking about things you haven’t allowed to surface in some time, simply observe and allow. There’s no need to do anything. Simply notice.
If you’d like to explore some of what might be surfacing along the way, connect with me for a complimentary mentoring session and let’s chat. Also, please feel free to explore other courses and classes that we offer at Satsang House!