"When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving." ❦ Eknath Easwara

March 4, 2012

Why Meditation is for Everyone and Something Anyone Can Do

"There is a great misconception about meditation. Thoughts of a long, gray-haired guru sitting in a pretzel-like, contorted position come to mind (even of sleeping on nails and walking on a bed of hot coals!). Wild psychedelic lights and 'turning on and dropping out,' and the whole whirl of the 1960's, the Beatles visiting India and sitar music, and the high pitched voice of the Maharishi flash before us. There are even fears of cult groups, brain washing and getting your head shaved.

But meditation has nothing to do with any of these things and everything to do with just bringing a moment of quiet and stillness to your life. You relax and let go of your many habits and impulses to act and react, to do and be, and the compulsiveness you have to keep busy at all times. The simple act of sitting quietly and allowing for a pause of peace is one of the single most healing and rewarding things we can do for ourselves. This is the work' of a spiritual practice.

As mentioned in the beginning by the Buddha, there is nothing special to be gained, achieved, be or become in meditation. Ironically, it's the quiet, the stillness and the peaceful pause in our lives that allow for patience, acceptance and understanding to develop and for inner tranquility to blossom. Meditation is about opening up and accepting, coming into contact and connecting with that tender and benevolent side which all of us have. It is not about deadlines and hostility or snapping into shape or performing like a trained seal with a ball balanced on its nose. Nor is meditation about sitting like a hen for countless hours trying to hatch eggs, expecting a reward. But through stillness and just being at rest, we get to know and be at ease with ourselves, rather than always having to lash out at the world. We take a well-deserved break from all our anger, doubts, impatience, fears and all the many unproductive habits that have managed to creep into our lives.

Our minds are filled with such a high volume of activity. We are so busy with thoughts of past occurrences, or tomorrow's agenda that we've lost contact with the moment. We live in a blur, out of touch with who we are and how things are in the present. Then, too, we are in such a constant state of being 'on'; of wanting, needing, desiring and liking. This basic battle of liking and disliking is subtly played out in every moment, situation, encounter and relationship of our lives.

We like certain situations and people so we become attached and cling to them. Then on the other hand, we dislike certain situations and people so we push them away and hate. The amount of energy we use through life's dramas and upsets is exhausting. Our lives are a battlefield of turmoil, seething, anxious and painful. Our lives have become the equivalent of war--so much wounding, firing, retaliation, attacking and defending. These are the affects generated in ourselves and those around us by our less than being in the present, mindful of our actions.

But through meditation, a time for stillness and quiet is made; a time for healing is found. We need to occasionally stop so that we can see clearly and not be in a dizzy rush. Meditation is peaceful pause from all our habits and impulses, our compulsive acting and reacting and doing battle with each encounter, circumstance, person and event that comes up is known. An understanding develops. Life doesn't have to be about all this liking and disliking and about going to extremes. There can be simple acceptance, and having patience with ourselves and others around us. This is the Middle Way, an understanding and compassionate alternative. . ."

Excerpt from Buddha Smile by Roberto Vicente
(You can download the entire book in Microsoft Word format from Metta Refuge by clicking on the book's title, above.)

I also recommend:

This Metta Refuge post shares Roberto Vicente's excellent beginner's introduction to meditation practice.
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
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