February 12, 2010
Lyn emailed me about a statement on our Difficulty Meditating website page that she found confusing. This blog post is an attempt to explain it, but I’m not sure that I can anymore than I can explain the taste of an apple to someone who has never tasted one. Here’s the statement she found confusing:
“Although meditation can be a way to experience inner silence, this comes about not by eliminating thoughts, but by becoming aware of the silence that is naturally present in the mind along with the thoughts.”
The statement refers to the experience of silence in a meditative state, and a meditative state is very difficult to describe in words. It’s about the space between words, the space between thoughts. It’s about becoming unhooked from thoughts and concepts so that the background of consciousness in which everything is experienced becomes apparent.
Trying to describe this experience is like trying to describe space. It’s easy to describe the objects in space – a tree, an apple, a human being – but how do you describe space itself to someone? Everything exists in space – it’s that no-thing in which every “thing” is! How you put words to that?
Our awareness could be thought of as the space in which all of our experiences take place. It is an “aware space”. It is there all of the time, but we don’t put our attention on it. Our attention is focused on the experiences, rather than the awareness underlying the experiences. Meditation can bring about an awareness of awareness. And the nature of that awareness could be described as silence. As we disengage from the meaning of thoughts and they are allowed to flow through, the experience is one of silence along with thoughts. The gap between thoughts, the space in which they happen, is being noticed.
Does the statement make sense to you? How would you explain it to someone?
August 31, 2009
Our latest podcast meditation is yet another variation on a theme. It’s along the same lines as the Letting Go, Simply Being, Effortless, Let it Be and Trust meditations. Each has a slightly different angle that points the mind to the same place, a place which isn’t really a place. They help us to achieve a state of being in which there is a lack of resistance to the natural flow of life. This state of mind can be described in so many different ways. “Lack of resistance to the natural flow of life” is only one way to talk about it. “Resting in the source”, the name of this new meditation, is another. And yet, words always fall short. Words have meaning, but the words used in these meditations are used to help the mind move beyond meaning. They are words to undo words.
The word “source” in the context of meditation is full of meaning for many people. I asked what it meant to people on our Facebook page, and it was interesting to read the responses. For some, source has spiritual or religious meaning; for others it is more secular. And yet, it’s my feeling that the most fundamental meditative state is the same regardless of how we approach it. Sometimes images capture it best. In the meditation, the image of a fountain came to me. All of the water flows from the source and falls back into the source. Hopefully the meditation sets the stage to allow your mind rest at the still point from which everything emerges and to which everything returns.
May 19, 2008
I just received an email from a woman who said: “Most importantly, your guidance also helped me recognize that I already knew how to meditate, but that I just thought of it as ‘being still’ or ‘paying attention.’ ” Eureka — that’s it! When we experience a meditative state during meditation, we tend to think it’s something special that happens only in meditation. In fact, it’s something we all experience from time to time outside of meditation, but don’t notice. We could actually think of it as the mind’s “natural state”. It’s a very simple form of awareness, uncomplicated by the mind’s habits of judging and comparing. It’s a state that’s there when we are neither resisting or trying to change what is naturally coming up in our experience. It’s a state of “simply being”.
Much of the time, we are “simply being” but don’t make note of that, because the mind isn’t in the mode of standing apart and observing our experience at that time. Sometimes, however, we’ll notice a dramatic shift into the simply-being-mode. As I mentioned in the previous post, meditation often happens spontaneously when something we see or hear or touch jars us out of the preoccupation with the past and future. The sight of a hummingbird at my feeder always does it for me. What does it for you?
January 10, 2007
Anything can trigger a “meditative state”. That shift in awareness that we call meditation is natural to the mind. The mind will take the opportunity to shift any chance it gets, we just don’t always give it the time and space to do it. But sometimes it happens unexpectedly — the sight of a sunset, a baby’s wide open eyes, even something painful like grief. It happens when something jogs the mind out of its analytical, linear mode and allows the awareness to expand. It happened to me today when I visited Candleday, the blog of Tomas Karkalas who posted the very first comment to my very first post on this (or any) blog.
Candleday, with its beautiful art and straightforward, heartfelt spiritual depth created the heart-opening, body-relaxing, sense-enhancing shift that I needed to take with me into my left-brained adventure into learning how to blog.
What triggers a meditative shift for you? Would love to hear your comments.