Meditation – what you need to know

Many people will give meditation a go because they are open to techniques and tools that they understand are supposed to be helpful, but quickly become disappointed because the rewards to be had are minuscule compared to the effort expended. This is all very understandable; it takes practice and commitment to become good at anything, and in the case of meditation the benefits to be had are hard to articulate and just as hard to perceive.

Here are some concepts that I hope will help you get a sense for what is actually to be gained.

Dealing with the storms of feelings and emotions that can rip through the calm and centeredness we struggle to maintain throughout any given day, is the first challenge on the path towards inner development, and the best tool for this, hands down, is meditation. We are buffeted by our streams of  thoughts and emotions, and we need a place to go where we can find some peace for a few minutes each day. Just those few precious minutes of a little peace and quiet can help us get a grip in the tide of our inner world that take charge of us at any moment. Getting that grip, even for a few minutes, can be the difference between having resilience in the face of trouble, or being trampled.

The activity of doing our meditation is a homeopathic dose of the medicine of peace, which slowly, imperceptibly, works upon our soul giving it strength and resilience over time when we need it. It doesn’t happen by magic; it arises out of our activity, our striving.

Building The Hut

When we meditate, we are developing a whole new organ for our soul, called the hut – much like the liver or kidneys for our physical body. Instead of being made of tissue and blood, this new organ is made up of capacity. Our activity in meditation over time lays a foundation upon which, stone by stone, is created a place where we can go when life gets hard. When we build a new organ in our soul, we are creating order and structure where there was none before. Order and structure provide a foundation that is rock solid. We can look back over time and see how capable and strong we are, how resilient, compared to before we started to meditate. These things are new capacities, new skills we have created within ourselves.

There are three key elements to meditation:

1.  It takes some investment of time and effort before there will be any noticeable difference. It is a subtle process.

2.  The point is not whether you achieve the purpose of the meditation you are doing – for instance to evoke a feeling of peace and calm – but that you try. It is the intention and the activity of your striving that builds the hut, not how successful you are. This is very important to know, because we can so easily give up in the face of our apparent failure. This is so important I will say it again: it is the activity of doing it that builds capacity, not success. As with anything, success comes at the end, not the beginning.

3.  Meditation must be done every day. It has a rhythmical nature, much in the same way that homeopathic medicine can only be created by the rhythmical movements that potentize it. Doing meditation every day potentizes your efforts.

Building The Will

For a long time when I first started, it was all that I could do to remember that I had resolved to meditate when I got into bed, and then promptly fall asleep without doing anything else. However, there is power in merely remembering, even if you don’t actually do the meditation. First, we have to build the will capacity to do it every day, which requires practice in itself. Actually doing something every day that is voluntary requires capacity; it is not something that will be easy to maintain once any initial enthusiasm has worn off. Our will, that part of us that gets things done, is also an organ in our soul that must be created out of our own activity and striving.

Here is what it could look like as a process:

1. Remembering to do it but not at the time you had set aside for it.

2. Remembering to do it, sometimes, but not doing it.

3. Remembering to do it consistently, but not doing it.

4. Wanting to want to meditate gradually transforms to wanting to meditate.

5. Remembering consistently, and sometimes giving it a go.

6. Giving it a go, regardless of apparent success or failure.

7. Doing it because it helps, initially.

8. Doing it even though you think you are failing to achieve anything at all, but you have faith it will be worth it.

9. Building it into your life, and experiencing it’s support in your daily striving.

My Own Story

I have been meditating for many years, and I now depend upon it for my daily ability to face with equanimity whatever comes to meet me. I meditate every morning when I wake up, and every evening right before I go to sleep. To not meditate is like not cleaning my teeth. It is my soul hygiene that cleans me up and sets me on course for the day, and prepares me to sleep deeply and well when I get into bed. While it took me a long time to get regular and rhythmical with my daily practice, I found it so helpful in the face of the challenges of motherhood, financial struggle, and deep questions about my purpose in life, that I continued as best I could, sporadically, failing all the while. I am so grateful I kept going despite everything, because now I stand upon those early efforts as a strong foundation in my life. I wish for you to have that foundation in your own life too, if you choose it, and I will help and support you in every way I can.

Peace!

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