23 October 2023

Meditation and our way of being

We hear a good deal about the benefits of meditation – for health and wellbeing, for sport, the workplace, relationships and so on. But what about how it really affects us? In how we are? How we experience the world? How we view the world? How we are in the world? Our way of being?

Now some do say even to have an outcome in mind - any outcome - when approaching meditation is to miss the point – see the thought for the day. However, with regular practice many do notice meditation seems to transform their experience of themselves, of those around them and of the world itself. 

So this week, two major benefits of meditation you might like to share with others, but first the contrary notion…

                         Thought for the day
The moment we sit down to do zazen (Zen meditation), 

We are useless; 

What we are doing has no point outside of itself, 

Outside of the moment itself.

Barry Magid, Uselessness: The koan of just sitting

Speaking with a friend recently, we fell to discussing how regular meditation seems almost automatically to transform our lives, and how it could be useful to be able to share this prospect easily with those newer to meditation. Inspiration and motivation…

And sure there are the well-publicised and well researched benefits of meditation; but there is much more. So maybe sharing these two benefits that flow from regular meditation will be helpful…

1. Our View 

Our View is how we experience and understand our world; hence the capital V – our View.

With regular meditation there is every chance we will become more:

i) Spacious 

Stressed, anxious people are tight and narrow minded. Meditators are more relaxed and open in their thinking and their way of being. There comes a natural ease, a natural humour, a light-heartedness

ii) Mindfulness 

Being spacious does not mean regular meditators become spaced out! Rather, they develop the capacity to focus their attention better, while at the same time, becoming less judgemental, less distracted, more present and more capable.

iii) Aware

With spaciousness and mindfulness comes a new-found clarity and calm. Our minds become less cluttered, less distracted; more aware. 

So we notice what is going on in 2 very important ways

Firstly, there is what is best described as raw awareness. We simple notice things as they are – better. We notice the details; the raw details. We notice people’s distress or needs. We notice the opportunities. Having noticed, having become aware, we are better positioned to help. Life seems richer, fuller … 

But secondly, more than just the raw details, we begin to notice the truth of what we are aware of. Three main things:

We notice the truth of how things are changing all the time; that nothing is permanent, and we learn to live informed by this truth.

We notice the truth of how everything, and everyone is inter-dependent. The notion we exist in a vacuum, or can survive on our own is seen to be an unhelpful illusion, and we learn to live informed by this truth.

Finally, we notice the truth of multiplicity – of how things are not just one thing but made up of many parts, and we learn to live informed by this truth.

2. Our Good Heart

Regular meditation does more than transform our state of mind. 

It opens our heart and leads us naturally to find ways to care for self and others. 

But in becoming more open hearted, is there a risk of becoming more vulnerable?

This is where our View has more to offer. 

As well as helping us to be more spacious, mindful and aware, our View helps protect us. 

The calm and clear mind it fosters helps us to develop the capacity for healthy discrimination. 

So we do not overdo helping others and burning out. 

We do not overdo helping self and becoming an ego-centric pain. 

Maybe we do have ups and downs, maybe we do experiment, maybe we do need to learn and adapt, but we make good progress with the heart as well as the mind.

And very significantly, through all of this, we come to know ourselves better, who we really are, what is in our heart’s essence. And with this comes both an inner peace and an inner confidence. The very common feelings so many suffer from of not feeling good enough begin to drop away, our good heart emerges, our mind becomes calm and clear, and life begins to flow more easily.

The value of long-term, regular meditation practice…

Happy Meditating

Early Notice

Next year, 2024, I will present a residential meditation retreat and 2 meditation teacher trainings. Details will be posted on the blog soon…