Friday, December 28, 2007

Why Meditate?

I am not an expert on meditation. As a matter of fact, I am currently struggling to reintroduce this practice more regularly into my routine of daily living. I am at this point, somewhat of a lapsed meditator. I meditate in fits and starts, but not on a disciplined, daily basis which I am convinced will help me open my heart to what I strive to attain, namely a heart of gratefulness. Yet, I feel strongly that the following considerations could be helpful to others.

As long as we live, our minds are alive with the uninterrupted process of thinking. Like a movie film, one scene follows another. Each clip may reflect ideas, worries, ambitions, fears, states of anger, desires, hurts and hopes. Thinking happens, and particular thoughts suggest our attachments to certain things. In the course of ordinary life, these attachments determine our behavior and interactions with others, the nature of our efforts and our undertakings, what we try to avoid and what we find ourselves drawn to.
When meditating, our minds act as observers of our thinking so that we can observe the content of our thought and not become enmeshed in them. The conscious discipline of meditation allows that part of us which is more natural and pristine, our ‘true selves’, if you wish, to find its spiritual expression and experience. Meditation offers us the gift of opening our hearts to a spiritual reality that the struggles of daily living make difficult to discover and attach to.
As we recognize worries and fears, sadness and anger, the many techniques of meditation- focusing on one’s breathing, utilizing a mantra-one word or a phrase repeated in our mind, visualizing an object of spiritual symbolic meaning-a flower, a flame of light- and many more, represent paths of inner awareness designed to open our hearts to truths that our minds crowd out of our consciousness.
We sit to meditate. We may feel upset, troubled by one problem or another, finding it impossible to halt obsessive worry and preoccupation with a challenge of a loss, a disappointment, or a personal failure. How do we overcome the persistence and intensity of these states of mind? Our minds seem to fill up with the negative, leaving no room for the positive, the hopeful, the sense of being grounded and optimistic. Meditation provides a path by which our painful attachments are set aside for a moment, giving us the light of the heart’s awareness of perspectives beyond that of the personal
and narrow , to those of a spiritual reality that touches upon a liberation from these attachments.
As our hearts open, our awareness of the goodness and love in life, that which reflects a sense of peace and harmony, a oneness, with ourselves and others, begins to unfold and replace the attachment to things, to people, desires, wealth, power,etc. Our everyday concerns do not magically disappear; they slip into the background making room for the gifts of spiritual consciousness.
As we practice more regularly, we begin to incorporate that way of understanding the world and life into our everyday experience. Our heart is more naturally open to respond to life with greater gratefulness and humble thanks.

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