"if I could only find the right practice for me, my life would open up and I would find enlightenment"
I am constantly researching and wanting to simplify my ideas as I have spent years thinking that if I could only find the right practice for me, my life would open up and I would find enlightenment or at least a constant state of peace! Given all the people we talk to on our programs and in our lives, those ideals and similar ones have a lot of followers.
A lot of us are searching for the “right” path to peace. It goes something like this. “if I can only do this, THIS, THIS and THIS, then THAT will happen.
I don’t know about you but life here on planet earth just doesn’t work like THAT at all.
In fact the opposite usually happens. It seems we all may be trying too hard to get it right.
So here are a few thoughts for your consideration from people who are meant to know something about meditation.
Buddhist meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, says “When I meditate, I don’t really seek anything. I sit. I open myself. I don’t try to do anything. My life is my life and it’s not about changing it. That’s what meditation can do – it can help us find a great space of awareness that allows us to see the dance of life and participate in it without getting so caught up in it.”
What he is saying is that life is one circumstance after another in which to learn. It is the realisation that life is like this that gives us an opportunity to see life as not about success or failure but about experience that we can learn from. Jack Kornfield also says that in the ups and downs of life, there’s a place within us all that is still, wakeful, and compassionate. No matter what happens we can tune into that, rather than allow our mind to dominate the situation and take us in to negative territory.
He says that meditation empowers us to see things clearly and be gracious with the ever changing flow of life.
The message is that believing that if I follow this particular path I won’t suffer. It sets up an exam to try to get it right all the time.
What do you think and what is your experience here?
Sally Kempton, author of Meditation for the Love of It says the first step in loving meditation is to kindle a genuine interest, a relaxed curiosity, about what you’ll find when you turn inside. Sally says to take the attitude of an explorer, meditating to discover the pathways into your own being. She encourages people to take a playful attitude toward their practice instead of being terribly serious about it all. In other words engage the sense of humour and explore our inner selves.
What I like about her approach is our practice needs to be one that helps us to touch into the experience of essence, the inner self, the field of clarity and presence in our heart.
With practice we can return to this place all the time and it becomes more real than our emotions. So our inner self becomes a refuge from our thoughts, emotions and everything really. We are not our minds, we are not our emotions, we are not our bodies, we are consciousness, energy, spirit, however we want to describe it. Having a lightness about our approach and giving ourselves permission to be playful really appeals to me.
Again, what are your responses to Sally Kempton?
Tami Simon from Sounds True says Sally’s book is the best she has read on meditation. And Tami started Sounds True and has listened and read everything on meditation
Finally, Eckhart Tolle, says on his website that “the realm of consciousness is much vaster than thought can grasp. When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are”.
Isn’t that a relief? To find out who we really are requires finding a practice that connects us with our inner being, whatever we want to call it.
Most of us who have followed Eckhart know that the Tolle view of meditation and its ultimate essence is realising the precious spaciousness that is available in every moment.
Tolle says to be really here now requires practice, like any other skill worth learning. Meditation deepens the realisation of our essential nature – the unified consciousness that lives in all things. Meditation gives us freedom from the illusion of separation from the outside world.
The challenge of our time is to reconcile the inner movement towards stillness and being, and the outer toward action and doing.
What he is saying seems to be saying is the universe not only wants outward movement, but it also wants inward movement – the return movement to the One. Every human being also embodies these two movements. It seems that we are torn sometimes between the outward movement into form, and the inward movement to the source where it all started. The Source was never really lost, it is because it is timeless, and it is within us. We feel drawn back to that, and that is the pull toward spirituality, peace, stillness.
Not one or other is right or wrong. It’s only perhaps if we totally lose ourselves in one or the other. Perhaps this is the challenge, to reconcile the two movements, rather than to have them be separate.
I don’t know about you, but I can find something in all three perspectives.
The challenge for all of us is to find what works for us and just practice.
Wendie has co-facilitated residential programs with Petrea for more than sixteen years. Prior to that Wendie spent over 25 years as a teacher, school principal and was involved in educational leadership and facilitation of school executive groups.
Ten years of this time was spent in PNG where she taught and worked for the government. Wendie has been travelling since the early sixties and is especially attracted to Asian cultures. She holds degrees in Anthropology, Education, Sociology, Theology and Political Science. Her current passions are her grandchildren, travel biographies, exploring Asia, 4×4 driving, reading everything she can get her hands on, and watching movies on the big screen at home.
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