I remember when I started trying to meditate. I would sit down, close my eyes, and try to be really calm (my definition of meditation at the time). That was hard: my head would burst with ideas, thoughts, solutions, problems… I would become agitated, and stopped generally after ten long minutes, if not less. It’s during my short “meditations” that I felt less… meditative.
I knew there was something for me to explore that was beyond the physical world. I knew I would unleash my potential, by “going within”. And sitting meditation, as I knew it, was the #1 technique that would lead me there. Yet, I just couldn’t do it… I was inadequate.
No, I wasn’t - and neither are you, if you are experiencing a similar situation. It’s your definition of meditation that may be inadequate.
The idea behind meditation is not to sit on a chair, and close our eyes. Or to sit in lotus, and watch the leaves change colors. You can do all this if you feel a call to do so, but whatever technique you choose is just as relevant as the type of fork you eat your meals with. Forks, meditations, cars, are just tools that help us accomplish a specific task…
Meditation, we could say, is an “altered state of consciousness”. We do not see things as we normally do; we feel connected to something bigger than our everyday selves; we feel “wider” than usual. In a few words, we are so immersed in ourselves that we can transcend our own limitations. Now, the question is: what do you need to feel that way (if so you wish)? For some people, it’s gardening; for others, it’s laying down comfortably and listening to music (it doesn’t even need to be New Age…). I personally know someone who meditates by playing card games on her computer. After a few minutes of calculating her moves and keeping score, she looses touch with the cards, and she “takes off”.
Why don’t we value such activities as much as those that involve candles, cushions, and incense? They may be simple, or silly, but their impact often is important, profound. Even more, they are easy and effortless. No need to be disciplined – we are naturally attracted to them.
In some ways, maybe that’s why we don’t always see their true magnitude. They are too accessible and natural. Mustn’t we pay a high price or work hard to get anything of value? If it’s easy, it’s not worth much… or so we were told.
For some people, meditating the conventional way (sitting down and all) does not contribute to expanding their horizon. It may look like they are meditating when they are doing it, but in reality they are thinking about their problems, analyzing this and that…they are relaxing, yes, but meditating, no. They would probably have the deep experience they are looking for much more easily by being active, by doing things just like those mentioned before (repetitive tasks, especially, are very effective in that regard). Of course, before washing the dishes, or doing some gardening, we don’t really think “I’m going to meditate”. But when we become aware of the higher potential these activities hold for us, we can utilize them consciously with that clear intention in mind.
Still, the point of this article is that we do not even need a clear intention to meditate. In fact, when we want something too much, we often become our first obstacle in the process – especially when it comes to meditation. You cannot work hard to attain something that is all about lightness, openness, and receptivity. You cannot push yourself to open up. You can only create favorable circumstances – and those can be anything, as we have seen, since it is just a matter of which tool works best for you.
So if your mind is constantly active, or extremely creative, and your energy is so high you cannot sit down and close your eyes, do not categorize yourself as unspiritual or “unmeditative”. You may not be able to sit for hours in uncomfortable positions like Tibetan monks do, but you too can accomplish things that they would not even dream of doing. Sure, you would benefit greatly from slowing down your thoughts and relaxing; but developing strategies that suit you as you are now would probably serve you even better. What could be the best way to meditate for you?
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