The vast richness of life cannot be described,
In reflecting on all my 30-day challenges, so far meditation has been the most impactful—hands down. I didn’t realize this at first but the essence of meditation embodies the very reason why I started committing to these challenges and started a podcast in the first place: to observe things objectively, experience them for what they are, and better understand the nature of life.
Though I’ve been meditating off/on for the past two years, this past commitment to embrace meditation has both confirmed and debunked many things. More importantly, it has provoked me to continue exploring what I consider the most powerful lifestyle tool there is.
Meditate for 30 Days (Part 4 of 4)
To help me understand my meditation experience and what I can expect as I continue is Sunirmalya Symons. Who started The Meditation Society of Australia to help others explore meditation techniques, styles and traditions without any associated obligations or hidden agendas. Through his 30+ years of experience, he helps me break down mediation in a very straightforward and exciting way.
The Loving Essence of Meditation
Sunirmalia defines meditation as the skill of tapping into that unconditional love we’re all born with. The no-strings-attached type of love that’s experienced much like when a skilled musician is effortlessly jamming note by note or how a dancer whose years of practice culminates into a seamless flow movement.
“An amazing way of deepening the creative process, deepening presence, expanding your energetic relationship to the world, gaining insight, and realizing that most of the thinking we do springs from mental addiction and much people’s lives are spent in an emotional swirl which is a reactive one.” Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning
Everyone is born with the ability to love. It’s our purest state, before our ego, fears, and other learned traits are adopted. Of course, these traits are there for a reason. So learning how and why these traits affect our thoughts and actions is how we can cultivate this skill of loving. In doing so we can reconnect with our purest self whereby connecting deeply with life and others in a selfless, energetic, and serene way.
Cultivating Mindfulness through Meditation
The word mindfulness is most often used to expressed the result of a meditation practice.
Meditation is a gentle technique, but it’s also very, very thorough. It’s a subtle yet effective method of training the mind to be more aware of life experiences, how they affect us, and how we respond.
In the book, Mindfulness in Plain English by Gunaratana, I found meditation described very well:
It is attentive listening, mindful seeing, and careful testing. We learn to smell acutely, to touch fully, and really pay attention to the changes taking place in all these experiences. We learn to listen to our own thoughts without being caught up in them. The object of [meditation] practice is to learn to see the truths of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness of phenomena. We think we are doing this already, but that is an illusion. It comes from the fact that we are paying so little attention to the ongoing surge of our own life experiences that we might just as well be asleep. We are simply not paying enough attention to notice that we are not paying attention. It is another catch-22. Through the process of mindfulness, we slowly become aware of what we really are, down below the ego image. We wake up to what life really is. It is not just a parade of ups and downs, lollipops and smacks on the wrist. That is an illusion. Life has a much deeper texture than that if we bother to look, and if we look in the right way.
This ‘waking up’ to the reality of life is what I’ve come to understand what meditation is all about. And amidst this journey, are endless ripples of other invaluable effects.
The Byproduct of Meditation
A month is usually plenty long enough for me to take on a challenge. But it’s safe to say that with what I’ve experienced through my short time with a committed meditation practice, I sense I’ve only just gotten a whiff of a life-long feast that holds incredibly juicy benefits.
Here’s what I’ve both experienced and seen potential in developing through a meditation practice:
- To be deeply aware of my own thoughts, words and actions.
- To sharpen my concentration, relaxation, and thinking power.
- To observe things objectively.
- To perceive, for myself, the most fundamental reality of a thing.
- To be proactive in the world rather than reactive.
- To be more understanding, tolerant and compassionate towards myself and others.
- To fully experience life just as it is and cope with exactly what I find.
- To better develop my internal compass to confidently conquer life by.
Embracing Meditation in a Healthy Way
Moment by moment life flows by and no two moments will ever be the same. Life is an ever-flowing movement of change and impermanence. The essence of everything we experience is changing, whether we like it or not. Change, it’s the nature of the universe.
In any moment that we want life to be different that it is, there is some degree of suffering. When something is pleasant, we want to hold on. When something is unpleasant, we want to push it away. In these moments, we are trying to manage how things are, making it difficult to see life clearly and become more susceptible to stress. Very rarely do we feel content with just the way things are with a lucid perspective on life as it is.
Fortunately, there’s another option.
With a meditation practice and mindful attention, one can practice releasing control of the reality of life, and simply enjoy it for what it is.
We can learn to recognize our habitual cycle of desire and aversion. In doing so, we gain control and can begin to ignore the constant impulses to be more comfortable. Then can we choose to accept something for what it is without wanting to mutate it into something else and instead, dive into reality.
It’s a beautiful thing, to experience a moment without illusion, judgment, or resistance of any kind. It is in this space that understanding and insight are formed.
Adopting a Mindfulness Meditation Practice
Sitting and ‘doing nothing’ for short time sounds easy right? Wrong, it’s hard. Life is short enough as it is, taking the time to slow down isn’t always appealing. But just like a good workout, I’m always glad I did it.
Good things come to those who hustle while they wait. Thomas Edison
Meditating requires gumption. It’s a discipline-driven practice that will sap (yet strengthen) your willpower and at times will leave you feeling like a failure at the end of the day when you’ve realized you weren’t even able to take 10 minutes to give your mind some headspace. My recommendation? Add meditation to the calendar and/or make it part of your daily routine. For me, it’s the first thing I do right after breakfast.
If you’re curious, my current morning routine goes something like this: gulp down water, 5 min stretch, cold shower, breakfast, get dressed, tai chi, meditate, journal, get on with the day… it take about an hour (depending on what I’m craving for breakfast).
Attitude is Everything
Everyone who I’ve gleaned to for meditation help highlights the importance of how meditation is approached and perceived. And now I understanding why. If the ‘goal’ of meditation is to experience the true nature of life as it unfolds then any theories, prejudices, and stereotypes will only get in the way.
What I’ve learned is the best attitude to have is to be open and willing to see and experience it for yourself. With this attitude, life takes on an unbelievable richness that cannot be described, only experienced.
See for yourself,
the truest and deepest qualities of life.
Thank you for joining me on this 30-day meditation challenge. Though the challenge has ended, I’m excited to say this is only the beginning of what currently feels like a life-long pursuit. So if you have any questions or thoughts please feel free to drop those in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.