When I first began meditating, I wasn’t so concerned with the benefits of meditation, I’d simply read that it leads to happiness. And I was fascinated by the idea of spiritual enlightenment from the many books on my bookshelf.
So I started meditating.
Ironically, I’d spent much of my adult life up to this point NOT believing anything unless it was scientific, intellectual, and provable; most definitely nothing about god, anything airy fairy, woo woo, new age or energy-like. Especially religion—I had believed—were delusions designed to comfort people by telling them that we aren’t alone in the universe.
When I opened my heart up to finding happiness, I radically ran down any avenue, including religions, crystal healing, you name it… anything and everything that promised me hope. Maybe I went too far because I started to believe pretty much everything I read and heard—naively perhaps.
Whether I journeyed on a 10-day silent vipasana meditation, sang kirtan Hindu enchantments with the Hari Krishnas while wearing an Indian style Sari (yes I really did that), or sat in rigid transcendental postures with fellow yogis…
#1 Here’s what I found: sitting in a specific, rigid traditional postures didn’t change my experience of every-day life and the way I see the world outside of when I was meditating more than anything else out there. Pranayam breathing techniques didn’t make me feel there were more possibilities in the world. Ultimately, I did not transcendentally shoot off into the stars or other dimensions like I was promised.
Was I more centered in my life? Yes. Grounded? Yes. Connected even? Yes. I also learned to watch the content of my thoughts (next blog about why you may want to start doing that).
#2: I also found that deep presence through opening and following my heart, being completely with another, and doing what I love (writing, running, yoga, getting into my body, dancing, etc etc) helped me live completely in the moment. Some would say that living in the moment is perhaps the purest meditation—that it’s simply a focus on the now. Basically: any experience can be supportive. Other experiences might not be: lines of cocaine on a bathroom toilet, for example.
#3 What I’ve also found is that the deeper the connection you find to the moment, however you get there, the more you feel at home in yourself. Certainty lives there, too.
I’ve found that you don’t need to tell yourself affirmations or mantras, or tap on your skin, or count beads to visit that space. You don’t need crystals all over your room to feel it. Although, if all that blows your hair back, go ahead. If you feel moved to do it, DO IT! And hey, crystals are beautiful.
A wise woman once said to me: you can use anything!
Try meditation, try different kinds, but if you aren’t shooting off into the stars either, there is no oneway. And sometimes failing at something (like meditation) is just a signpost telling you to go in a different direction. A client of mine hates running, but she loves boxing. We all be different.
Just explore whether the results you experience are enduring, or just a temporary relief. And, your ego will get used to an experience; it catches on, so most tools expire.
#4 I’ve also FOUND that it’s more important to look at what gets in the way of who you already are,rather than using techniques to take you to who you already are. That’s what I often work with people one-on-one and in group sessions to be aware of, because when you stop doing all the things that get in the way, you easily fall into yourself.
Ultimately, that time of my life where I opened back up to a world that might also be intangible… is one of my favorite chapters of my life book. I’d gone from completely closed to wonderfully open. I was naive but excited, exploring the world with my heart on my sleeve. I discounted no wisdom or prophet in the world. If they were standing on a self-declared soapbox, I still wanted to know what they knew.
Along the way, I probably attended what I think may have been a cult, which scared me at the time because I feared being taken advantage of, but later I thought, you can feel taken advantage of by anyone if you allow them… many different groups of people, religion, politics, or even within romantic relationships.
THIS IS WHY no matter what you are trying or exploring out there in the world, whether it’s a practice or a relationship, you listen to your heart and intuition above all, no matter how wise the teacher or lover may appear. No matter how desperate you may feel. Only you have power over you; and if you ever appear to be overpowered, you still have the power to decide how you react to that experience.
Learn to trust yourself by checking in with yourself. Don’t let yourself be led blindly.
#5 The more I have come to know who I am, I have realized that all experiences are just that, experiences to be had, not held onto, even if you were taken advantage of; maybe that was the experience that made you more self-aware and more discerning, one that caused you to wake up. Maybe that’s why you got cancer, or your partner died. I can’t say, but suffering often leads to the desire to find yourself.
NEXT POST: The Power of Watching the Contents of your Thoughts…