Finding stillness can be an infrequent experience for many people in today's society. Every day, and nearly every moment, we are bombarded by external distractions that keep us from experiencing authentic peacefulness.
Our society reflects the activity of the human mind on a massive scale, infusing our world with a constant stream of thoughts, ideas, labels, sounds, needs, obligations, desires, wants, all continuous streams of activity leaving little space for peace. The constant distractions our society presents us with, reflects a fear of knowing ourselves on a deeper level.
For many, our minds are full, wandering uncontrollably from one subject to the next. This is called the "Chattering Mind" which we are all familiar with having prevented us from easily falling asleep from time to time, some more frequently than others. When the mind is automatically traveling from one topic to the next, we are lost, we are not fully present in our world, we are caught up in the mind uncontrollably.
Meditation is about finding peace and developing insight and awareness into how your mind works through observing the thinking process. It is a practical, hands on approach to being present, free from the noise of the every day hustle and bustle, and free from our own internal monologues. We then begin to acknowledge our thoughts, feelings and emotions so we don't allow them to run our lives. Meditation gives us a space in time to let go and just be.
Meditation teaches us to be peacefully aware. It teaches us to be in the experience of living and loving the now, loving who we are, honoring ourselves and our time we make for ourselves. When we make time for ourselves, we change the way we live our lives and how we interact with other people and situations. For self awareness and personal growth, meditation is one of the key ingredients to transforming yourself into a more peaceful being. It gives us an opportunity to realize how our patterns of thinking, and our patterns of emotions float through our lives causing chaos inside and out. With this realization we can move away from allowing random subjects to disturb a peaceful world. Meditation is about self realization and self transformation. Many people are afraid to really get to know who they are, but once they let go of that thought, and open the doors of awareness, a new self emerges slowly, like a flower in bloom.
You may benefit from meditation if you:
- are disconnected from your body and live in your mind too much
- are preoccupied about the future or past with stress, worry, or anxiety
- feel there is not enough time and have a short attention span
- have difficulty focusing when reading, listening, cooking, etc.
- are self conscious, uncomfortable being in the presence of other people
- are overworked, not giving your body and mind the attention they need
- want to feel more at peace and more balanced in your everyday lives
- have difficulty sleeping due to mind chatter
- are self centered, gossip, judgmental of others, see yourself divided from others
- are depressed, unmotivated, lacking inspiration and energy
- are consumed by television, external stimuli, with little time for solitude
Meditation is about Being Present. Connecting the Mind and Body
Taste the coffee. Instead of rushing through it to get to the meeting, really experience the fullness of your coffee. When you taste the coffee for what it is, bring all your senses to the experience. Your meeting will be a different experience because you are different.
When we start to really live in the moment, living now, uniting the body and the mind, a shift changes within us that comes from the core of who we are. We begin feeling more centered because we are becoming more centered. The energy of life begins feeling more stable, gentler, and flows more naturally within.
Only 10 minutes of being in a space of internal awareness will change who we are with ourselves and that will be reflected with our relationships. How we interact with others will start to transform. How we see the world changes and will take on new meaning.
Peace is unconditional. There are no thoughts attached to peace because the moment you attach a need or desire to peace, it is lost. Peace can not be fully described or labeled by the mind; true peace must be experienced. Peace is an experience independent of thoughts. It is a state of awareness that comes from within, changing your experience of the world. If you are meditating because you are looking for something out there to change, let that go, because the real change in the world starts from within.
Emptiness or Abundance?
In the West, the Eastern approach to emptiness being a positive experience is often judged as a false view, even wrong. However, judgment is precisely the point. The conditioned mind attaches judgmental labels to things which creates a barrier for true, authentic peacefulness. Our society conditions us from an early age to be the critic of others and ourselves, and is the root cause of pushing peace away from our lives and the lives of others.
Emptiness clears the mind of all the critiques, leaving space for the joyful experience of just being who you really are without any conditions. This nurtures a peaceful approach to living. Emptiness is a way of letting go of the distracting, and often negative thoughts that can plague our minds. Letting go makes space for living in true abundance in being present, in really being here and now with yourself, with others and with your environment. It gives you the opportunity to see the world in a new light when you release the weight of judgment. In the West we always want to fill our worlds with more of anything and everything and have difficulty seeing the value in the space emptiness allows. As an easily recognized comparison, compare the home environment of a hoarder to a minimalist approach to living. Or, compare the energy of a busy downtown intersection during rush-hour to a cottage escape by the lake. It's not difficult to see how emptiness has more to offer in many ways.
In emptiness, what you are really doing is allowing spaciousness within. This spaciousness is expansive, open, abundant, and through it love is present.
Abundance can never come from wanting.. Living abundantly comes from the source of our being, which can be found when we empty ourselves of all ideas of needs and wants of the future and regrets of the past. The future leaves us wanting more, but abundance is found in the now. In emptiness we are not concerned with fears, expectations, regrets, problems, anger, nor anything at all. In emptiness we are allowing ourselves to be aware, receptive, giving.
Emptiness can have very different meanings and can be approached from different angles. Emptiness that is born from the ego, causes us to never feel fulfilled so we try to fill up our lives, chase after desires, each one following the next, never fully satisfied. When people feel like they are lacking in being whole, they often focus on trying to fill their lives with more and more "wants". These wants are so temporary they leave one wanting even more.
Then there is a much different kind of emptiness, the emptiness of letting go and experiencing joyful peace and understanding the truth of emptiness' abundance, knowing the truth of who you are as a loving, fulfilled, abundant being. This is authentic abundance, which temporary external gratifications will never fill. Abundance comes from the transformational experience of emptiness realized as wholeness. It is an internal alchemy of realization. When your consciousness realizes all is whole, all is holy, and there is abundance right here, right now, you realize the truth of authentic emptiness.