Does the practice of meditation make your life meaningful? And why should you try to do this practice in your demanding life schedule? You have an overflowing prioritized list of things to be done in a day. Every day. Then why meditate?
Just to give you a perspective, it is estimated that an average adult:
- Makes about 35000 remotely conscious decisions in a day.
- Thinks about 60000-80000 thoughts in a day.
- Roughly breathes between 17000-30000 times a day.
Imagine, having control over all the above three facts of your life. It is transformation, you would be a completely new person with that power. You would be the best version of you, the way you have always imagined or wished yourself to be.
Meditation is that tool to transform yourself.
The things we do in daily life are driven by the desire to satisfy our mind. We do this to feel content. The one who is at peace is also satisfied and jovial. So we don’t necessarily need to listen to our mind to be happy. We meditate to be able to experience that peace and happiness more often in our busy day. Despite all the difficulties, try to see if you are still able to be at peace. Meditation is a way to gift yourself this unique peace of mind.
A person who is angry or sad or in pride and ego or dealing with internal and external conflicts cannot experience this peace of mind or deep silence. Basically, such a person will not be able to meditate. Does that mean, we cannot experience that peace?
Even before starting the practice of meditation, there are four essential elements that need to be translated in life. There is a story on Lord Buddha that goes like this.
After self-realization, Buddha is walking through a forest and two people happen to see him. That time they didn’t know who he is. One of them asks him, "Who are you? Are you God?” Buddha says, "No, I am not God. The person says, "Are you a celestial being?" Buddha answers,” No, I am not a celestial being". The person asks again,” There is something different about you. I feel a big difference between you and us.Why am I feeling this attraction towards you. Who are you?”. At this Buddha replies, "Yes, I never said there is no difference between me and you. You asked me if I am God or Celestial being, that I am not. But there is a difference between me and you. The difference is that you are in a state of sleep and I am awake."
Meditation means to awaken yourself. It is a process to awaken self.
Many years ago, there was a widely reported incident in the news that a guard at the Guantanamo Bay Military prison in Cuba allegedly flushed a detainee’s holy book down the toilet. This had become a raging news item and numerous talk shows with pseudo- experts were hosted by various TV Channels worldwide.
Amidst all that, a reporter in Australia phoned Ajahn Brahm, who was the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery in Serpentine, Western Australia. The reporter was doing a feature taking statements from various religious heads. “What will you do, Ajahn Brahm” the reporter asked, “If someone took a Buddhist book and flushed it down your toilet?”
The abbot answered, “Sir, if someone took a Buddhist holy book and flushed it down my toilet, the first thing I would do is call a plumber!” They shared a brief laugh before the venerable Ajahn Brahm went on to say most beautifully,” Someone may blow up many statues of the Buddha, burn down Buddhist temples, or kill Buddist monks and nuns.They may destroy all this, but I’ll never let you flush forgiveness, peace and compassion down the toilet.”
This is meditation. It is your ability to retain your virtues in the face of all adversities.
This grace and presence of mind comes with correct practice of meditation. Isn’t that what we all want? The ability to make mindful choices that are right for us in the most demanding hour of the day.
Imagine if you build an ability to do all the above three mindfully. You will have the power to liberate yourself. Liberation from false beliefs, negativity, undesirable thoughts. It is freedom from guilt, resentment, jealousy, hatred and pride. If not all this, who doesn’t wish for a calmer, relaxed body system in a daily life.
There are numerous books, blogs, guides and videos available on meditation. Given all the help, shouldn’t it be easy to translate meditation in your regular life? Then why is it difficult? You may say, its difficult to find time, and yes that’s a valid reason. Specially for a beginner or somebody who is thinking to begin. A regular meditator by experience understands the importance of a daily ritual of meditation. The most relevant obstacle that stops us from this valuable practice are “our natural tendencies”.
Our natural tendencies
Everybody performs according to the tendencies of their mind. We are all different – somebody has a consciousness of a wolf, somebody else will have a consciousness of a lion. Some people are docile like a cow, some people are naturally very soft, some people are very clever, some people are very hard on themselves, these are the tendencies of mind.
When people stop and they reflect and they observe their own mind, that’s when you really see what your tendencies are like. Until then you don’t know, you just go with the flow in life. For example, you are sleepy you sleep, you are hungry you eat, you get excited about something based on your preferences & you may spend hours pursuing that goal. Life goes on with the fancies of mind. Mind is your only hurdle and mind is your only friend in this journey. Nothing else can help you in your journey, towards discovering yourself.
When you are listening to your mind, you are your own enemy, but when your mind is listening to you, you are your own friend. Meditation allows you to do the same things that you may otherwise do but with awareness where mind is listening to you. And of course, it also makes you do some things that you would otherwise not do.
To see these tendencies of mind, mind has to stop. There is this insightful article on how the mind is spinning like a wheel painted with spectral hues. When the wheel moves, it appears white which is an illusion as well as truth – both. But when the wheel stops you see the seven colors and you realize that it was not white. To see the real colors of your mind, the mind has to stop. In terms of mind it is your karmic trail and psychic imprints. To examine your mind, first it has to stop.
Once a popular surgeon goes to car maintenance shop and the mechanic after fixing his car, says to him, "Surgeon this is not fair. I fix an engine and I get paid 40 dollars an hour. You also fix up an engine, put things together but you get paid 4000 dollars an hour." To this, the surgeon replied, "Next time, my friend try to fix an engine when it is running".
To fix a mind that is moving is infinitely harder than to fix a mind that is still.
And getting your mind to still “so you can be mindful irresepctive of what situation life throws at you” is meditation. It is a state of mind, a state where the mind is silent and you are aware of the silence. However, many times even if we are silent, we are not aware. But in meditation, during this deep silence you are able to look at your own mind.
The journey starts with one step at a time. Thank you for your time & I invite you to take that first step!