A dear friend (who is also raising young twins) recently asked me if I meditate every single day. In that moment, we were engulfed in the cacophony and activity of our small children, so our exchange on this beautiful question was short. I’d like to explore it more here.
Do I meditate? It depends on what is meant by meditating (and on who this ‘meditator’ is, but we’ll get to that in a bit)…. For years and years, I diligently practiced transcendental meditation. I was drawn to it to calm the mind, and to become consciously aware of the ‘gap’ between thoughts. TM was beneficial – it definitely brought a deep peace to my mind and body, and at the time, I attributed my increased creativity, energy and ability to be more present and joyful to my meditation practice. It was great for reducing stress and when I was in school, I found it increased my ability to easily retain knowledge. So for these reasons, meditation has been very useful for me. But I can see now that I was striving for something in this practice. And by ‘I’, I mean the ‘I’ that was seeking inner peace and fulfillment. The ‘I’ that thought meditation would be a good vehicle to arrive at the Truth of being.
And the truth is, to recognize the consciousness that we are, meditation is not necessary.
In fact, if meditation is used for this purpose, it can become just another strategy, or practice that the mind adopts in pursuit of something. But we can’t pursue something that we ARE. The only way we can truly see what we are is by stopping all pursuits, all concepts around peace, and all desire for ‘finding something’ completely. The action of striving is what keeps us stuck.
If you weren’t striving for peace, in other words, if you were able to truly let go of that desire for peace, what would there be? This is a question to feel and experience rather than to think about……The mind thinks there would be a feeling of defeat, frustration or resignation… and maybe that is what the mind would experience, but there is also something deeper there to be recognized.
So now, my meditation has changed. Now I see the tendency of mind to claim things to support the existence of a ‘me’ (as an independent little ‘free willed’ engine)….. it claims everything to bolster this illusory identity “my country”, “my kids”, “my fingernails”, “my cardiovascular system”, “my ideas”…. it sees everything from a perspective of a central ‘me’. But now, I see that our bodies, our thoughts, our biological and personal histories are a (brilliant) function of form, and they are alive and real and important -but who and what we are is not limited to the functions of these forms. The mind sees everything as a relationship to ‘itself’, but what the mind can’t see is that everything is Self – including the mind. The mind classifies and categorizes, but the Self includes all with no classification, no separation. The definition of self that the mind believes in, is just a function of the mind. So what is happening here is that we experience a function of the mind so deeply that we come to believe that this is the totality of who we are. Once we see this …. we can see it in action – and we are no longer bound by it. We can see this function – and we don’t have to make it go away or change it, but we know it for what it is, including its limitations.
That is my ‘meditation’ now. To hold my awareness on what is here and not collapse into unconsciously believing the mind’s identification with (or pursuit of) anything other than what is. Now when I sit in silence (or in noise), I’m just Here, aware of being aware. If I use a mantra (which I rarely do anymore) – it is to play with the beauty of the world of form.