Thursday, September 24, 2020

Meditation - Why Specifically?

      In the previous post, I used phrases like "true nature," "lack," and "profoundly satisfying quality of life." We could have a long, interesting conversation about any one of these. Some friends tell me that they find such concepts baffling, and feel uncomfortable talking about them. Other friends tell me that they value my blogs because I'm the only one they know who discusses such depths of human experience.

     It's becoming increasingly 'normal' to be so swept-up in our contemporary culture of consumerism & materialism that little or no time & energy remains to seriously investigate the deeper, more meaningful aspects of life. This is despite the fact that for over 20 years we've known that after we have sufficient food, shelter, & clothing, additional material gains have minimal impact on well-being. Those who nevertheless continue to focus on accumulating wealth & material possessions, are "at greater risk of unhappiness, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, & problems with intimacy—regardless of age, income, or culture." Tim Kasser PhD "The High Price of Materialism." Bradford Books, 2003. 

     And many of us are not even that interested in accumulating more stuff. But decades of conditioning to prioritize only "things" we can touch, manipulate, control - leaves us with the impoverished notion that "the physical" is exclusively what life is about. All else has long been ridiculed & dismissed as "soft," "unscientific," old-fashioned, superstitious nonsense.

     So if you feel that your life seriously lacks some essential ingredient - as many of us do - the answer is not likely to come from working even harder & longer, more social media, more & finer food/drink, bigger/finer home, more expensive toys, more trips of a lifetime, or exploring exotic, dangerous 'experiences'! 

     Since we've run ourselves ragged doing more & more of what doesn't work (the definition of madness), and have possibly irreversibly ruined the earth in the process, isn't it time to seriously try a different approach?

     “Our civilized existence is a contracted kind of consciousness.” Ralph Metzner PhD

     “Part of becoming more conscious is that we start to understand the human condition more and have more compassion about it. We start coming from our heart instead of from our head.” Adyashanti

     “In the ‘ecozoic era’ into which we are moving, our worldview will shift from seeing the world only as a ‘collection of objects’ to seeing it also as a ‘communion of subjects.’ Thomas Berry PhD

     "A self-transcendent orientation unlocks worlds of possibilities." Adyashanti

     Perhaps a healthier, more sustainable way of life is exemplified by (healthy, mature) grandparents and how they nurture their beloved grandchildren, in a holding environment of safety & unconditional love. This is a model we can all relate to, at least theoretically, even if our own childhood was far from ideal. We can also envision how the (healthy, mature) owner of a puppy or other pet, or how a gardener, provide all that the pet or plants require to flourish, without the recipients ever having to earn continued loving attentiveness. Perhaps the simplest, most readily apparent model of nurturing is how our left & right hands help the other - as if they were one and two. An attitude of loving-kindness, and the nurturing behavior that tends to flow from it, is what we as individuals and as a global community desperately need right now.

"Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone.
Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety.
Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression.
Your glance can awaken joy.
Your words can inspire freedom.
Your every act can open hearts and minds." David Deida

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Meditation - Why?

     "These days there are increasing numbers of meditation apps available for busy people who are dealing with a wide range of problems from anxiety to poor sleep. These mindfulness-based, problem-focused meditations are helpful on a practical level, but they aren’t the kind of meditation that I will be describing. If you are interested in discovering your true nature, a different approach to meditation is needed."
     John J. Prendergast. “The Deep Heart – Our Portal to Presence.” Sounds True, 2019

     Those who register for an 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction course are generally there to improve some aspect of their life and realize that "meditation" is part of the deal. Much more variable however, is how they imagine, or have up till now experienced, meditation, and what specifically they hope to accomplish through meditation practice.

     Certainly relief from stress, anxiety, depression, anger, reactivity etc is an important initial step for many of us. But here's a surprise: there's no off-switch for these tendencies. As we heal & mature, their impact on our life becomes progressively less problematic, but doesn't completely disappear.

     So we start this journey with the wish to perhaps eliminate one specific problem eg stress, and for many, some stress reduction makes life "livable" again, and that's good enough, at least for a while. However, a gnawing sense of "lack" remains, only its intensity fluctuates. 

    Some of us are called to search deeper for a profoundly satisfying quality of life, an "intimacy with all things." We sense that through our meditation journey "a more intimate, honest, loving, and open-minded participation in the human experience can flower.” Adyashanti