What is meditation? On the play of student and teacher.

March 26, 2007

I have meditated for most of my life, I’ve taught meditation, I lead guided meditations and yet I can no longer say what meditation is. Once upon a time I thought I knew a lot about it. I thought I knew the best way to meditate and what the most “worthy” goals for meditating were. I had lots of opinions about meditation, and those opinions were extremely important to me. And now I find myself happily free of all these notions. Meditation means so many different things to different people, and from my point of view, all those meanings are equally valid.

Sometimes people see me as an expert in meditation, and yet here I am unable to answer the simple question “what is meditation?”. My understanding of meditation constantly evolves. The idea of myself, or anyone else, being an expert in meditation is quite funny to me. Although it might serve my interests to pose as an expert (after I do make guided meditation CDs for sale), the idea seems absurd.

Each of us have such a unique journey on our spiritual path, and I can hardly pretend to be an expert on anyone else’s. Perhaps I seem like an expert to someone who is really happy with the experience they have with my guided meditations. It seems as if it is something about me or my words that brought about their good experience, but in actuality it is simply the unfolding of their own journey that coincided in this most delightful way with the unfolding of mine.

The real expert on your spiritual path is you. You are the one having your experiences, and even if a teacher in some way seems to help you along, it is you who find truth or meaning in the teacher’s words or actions. You are an expert on what meditation is for you. The teacher is your mirror.

Of course, we feel gratitude those who help us along the way. That we are ultimately our own authority does not diminish that. I feel tremendous gratitude for all of those teachers who have inspired me on my path. I also feel gratitude to those who thank me for what I have given them. Nothing is more fulfilling than feeling that we have helped another. We are walking this path together and our learning is mutual, and yet in this mysterious play of life we play the roles of teacher and student and the reward is love and gratitude.

What is meditation for you?

Emotional Ease Meditation

March 18, 2007

My most recent podcast episode is a guided meditation for “emotional ease”. Those words may conjure up a vision of euphoria or floating in a comfortable cloud, but that’s not what it means. Although you’ll hopefully feel more relaxed and at ease after the meditation, it will be a result of being able to actually stay present to your emotions rather than resisting them or becoming mentally involved with them. Emotional ease is about being present to what is happening without struggling with it, and that includes feeling all emotions including those you may not want to feel, such as sadness, grief and anger.

Ease in living is not about life being easy. Life isn’t easy! It’s about the ability to flow with what happens, the “good” and “bad” events and the “pleasant” and “unpleasant” reactions to those events. While some guided meditations give us some respite from life’s storms and a chance to relax by encouraging visualizations of beautiful, relaxing places, my approach is to encourage surrender to whatever is happening right here, right now. While it can be helpful at times to escape, peace in life ultimately comes from being able to remain right in the heart of the storm (whether it is a storm of events or an emotional storm). I hope this latest meditation will help some of you with that!

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