Walking the Meditator's Path
Meditation is not a difficult or esoteric practice, available only to those of us who are already in touch with our spirituality. Nor is it achievable with only a specific goal in mind. The meditator's path is both endless and endlessly rewarding - an ‘experience’ of peace, not an act carried out to find peace.
The essence of meditation is a natural experience of healing (the word ‘meditation’ comes from the Latin mederi, ‘to heal’): the call of spirit to the peace within. We all have a need for such healing – if we are honest and look at our own life, we would likely recognize pain, suffering and darkness in certain areas of our day-to-day living. The deepest repair to our being is when meditation gives us its greatest gift: the realization of who we are. With this comes freedom. The ultimate destination of meditation is the freedom to be the spirit that we are.
Spirit is distinct from mind and intellect, yet may recruit these faculties for our own purposes. Meditation draws these strands together in a unity of being. We are spirit, which is conscious and self aware. The mind is our faculty of creation, the canvas on which we paint the inspirations that will shape our lives. The intellect is our inner ‘eye’ through which we evaluate the ‘quality’ of our creation and the method by which we turn our inspirations into reality.
Meditation is the road to self-realization. Along the road we cast aside our many false identities. This is essential if we are to create the internal space in which we welcome back our inner peace. A common misconception about meditation is that it removes us from consciousness - that we need to stop thinking. In fact, the opposite is true. Meditation teaches us to contemplate ourselves using our purest thoughts (such as, I am spirit, and, my original and eternal nature is peace). Only such simple thoughts, unencumbered by rationalization and evaluation, aligned with the true nature of the self, can open the windows onto self-knowledge and self-understanding.
As our spiritual self-awareness becomes stronger, so does our ability to move about in the world as free and assured human beings, with the ability to remain calm amid life's turbulence. We also gain a greater capacity for empathy and compassion toward others who are not at peace. Meditation gives us a sense of the togetherness of all things - the community of spirit. We are able to appreciate each of our worldly experiences with a more discerning awareness of what is important.
A simple exercise demonstrates the capacity of meditation for revealing what is true. Bring to mind your name, but do not associate it with your self. Hold the image of its letters in your mind and speak it silently to yourself. What does it mean? Does it connect with your true identity? Many people, when they do this exercise, find that the ‘thought’ of their name out of context is quite bizarre. By focusing their mind fully on the essence of the word, they experience a fundamental (if not profound) truth: our name has no essential meaning or importance and no true relation to who we are, it is merely a practical convenience. Its reality is not self but sound, an articulation of the tongue experienced by the ear; or a pattern of signs, selected from the repertoire of the alphabet. It floats in the mind like a spacecraft from an alien planet.
If this truth is available by such a simple meditation, imagine the scope for insight when we begin to meditate on whole thoughts, experiences or actions. Inevitably, as our inner horizons open up through the expansion of our spiritual awareness, we will more keenly sense suffering and evil in the world, as well as beauty and goodness. Try not to let this deter you from your path. Simply try to acknowledge any unhappiness as the way life is at the moment. This serene acceptance opens us to a spiritual opportunity: the chance to let the light of our inner peace shine through the compassion that we can create for all that is suffering, as much as it shines in the joy we emit towards all that is good. If we can prevent ourselves from identifying with all that appears as sorrow and pain, we can deepen the perception that gives us a greater connection with life. This is meditation of the most practical kind.
When we begin meditation it is often best to find a quiet, empty space, with few distractions (perhaps a room in your home rarely visited by others), in which to learn to focus our minds. Start with ten or fifteen minutes per day. You might lengthen this if it seems appropriate after your initial sessions. Soft lighting can help the atmosphere. It is also worth trying a guided commentary to start with - a recording by an experienced meditator who can lead you into ‘soul consciousness’. At the end of the session, reflect on your experience, and note how your mood is changed, and how valuable the meditation has been.
With practice the guidance of the commentary will be self-created as we pass beyond the need for an external aid. The deepest, most empowering form of meditation, is that which gently focuses on the self as spirit. The self is experienced as a point of radiant spiritual light. In this gentle illuminating awareness, we can truly experience our self as the master of every thought and action. Our inner peace then radiates from deep within through everything we do and say, permeating our actions and interactions.
Along the ‘meditators path’ many have reported on what lies beyond the restoration of self-awareness and self-sovereignty. As the self reaches and realizes the still and silent core of being there occurs an opening to a higher power, some say a divine power, that touches, teaches and transforms. They say it is the light of a pure love that enters and spirit is healed. It is, they say, not the end of the path, but the realization there was no path, only the light of the self being reawakened and renewed.
Action: Take ten minutes each day this week to relax your body, gently concentrate your mind and meditate on two simple thoughts – I am the light of spirit and my true nature is peace
© Mike George 2010