Building Your Spiritual Home

The Path of Mediation

I have been meditating for about 35 years. At first it was twice daily in the model of Transcendental Meditation, with a mantra, and not too much philosophy behind it. From this practice, I gradually calmed down and became more peaceful and quiet inside. At times I could feel a peace that went beyond understanding. Then I began reading, and fell in love with the literature of Zen. “Three Pillars of Zen”, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” were the first of these books. I could sense a part of me that was separate from my everyday consciousness, a quiet, peaceful self that hid behind all the noise of my life.

I began to get in touch with a Self that seemed connected to Universal Consciousness or God. As I read on, I found words to describe these spiritual experiences. Several years later, a friend invited me to visit the Siddha Yoga ashram in South Fallsberg, N.Y. The first time I entered the meditation hall, I I was surprised to feel myself crying and hearing the words “I’ve come home at last!” repeat in my head. Siddha Yoga was respectful of all the great religious traditions, and emphasized meditation as the “path to enlightenment”. This gave me a home for my practice and a structure to my understanding of the experiences of meditation.

At that time I was a Jewish Unitarian, but neither of these traditions seemed to relate to the inner world that was beginning to open. Meditation did offer me a path to God consciousness. I came to realize that whatever was going on in my outside life, if I sat for ten minutes or so, I could open into a peaceful place inside. At times, it got so deep that everything disappeared and I felt like all there was was formless consciousness. That always felt warm and joyful.

One night, after a particularly stressful fight with my wife, I couldn’t sleep. About 3 AM, I sat and let my mind empty. At first all I could feel was the anger, then the despair, as I realized how hopeless it all was; it would never change, my relationship was impossible. I sank into my despair feeling limp and completely helpless. I surrendered. Gradually, having given up, this helplessness turned to peacefulness, and finally to the deepest meditative experience I have known. In time, I began to resurface and I realized I had no idea if the body I was returning to would be awake or asleep. It was as if I was swimming under water and there was a line of buoys separating two swimming areas. One represented sleep, the other, wakefulness. I was coming to the surface, but where? As I became more conscious, I thought that I was in a part of Self that was independent of living or dying, an eternal part of myself.

This experience, which occurred twenty years ago, was probably the closest I have come to experiencing what is called Big Self or universal consciousness. It has helped me to know that deep inside is a Me that is quite independent of my external circumstances, a Me which I can always approach, even if I can’t get all the way to Big Self.

This ability to move into a Me not connected to my physical body has been useful. As a result of gall bladder surgery in my forties, I often get an intense abdominal squeezing pain, very like the colic of gaul stones. It lasts just four or five minutes but at times is so severe that I sweat and get dizzy. For those minutes, my body is a pretty unpleasant place to be. So I open myself up and surrender me to God and go off towards Big Self until the pain subsides. Then I can come back. I am still aware of the pain while it lasts, but it feels remote. I am more aware of the sense of being held and comforted.

Meditation has impacted my life in other ways. First, my mind is less cluttered when I meditate regularly. Second, my golf game improves. Finally, I am better able to separate myself from the everyday ups and downs of my life. I no longer attach so much meaning to events or feelings. It’s as if there is a steady part of me that stands protected from life’s storms. And most importantly, meditation has strengthened my relationship with God.

My most important experience occurred about 15 years ago. I was meditating in my office, and imagining that I was cupping my hands around a tiny buddha, just holding him with love. As I thought of this, I suddenly became aware that God holds me in the same way, also loving and protecting me. I felt certain just then that God loves me. That feeling has remained. It has been an enormous support ever since.

There have been months when I hardly ever meditate, and other months when every day I wake about a half hour before my alarm and decide that this is a sign I should meditate. Often my mind doesn’t stop during the 30 to 40 minutes I sit. And often it does and I feel that peace that is such a comfort. I do know that the peace is always there, waiting for me.


1) Where are you on the scale of peaceful versus harried?
2) Have you followed any discipline designed to “improve” yourself?
3) How has that worked?

 

CHAPTERS

GET A LIFE
THE JOY OF A DEPRESSED MOTHER
OPENING MANY DOORS
GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH ANGER
THE PATH OF MEDITATION
GIVING UP CONTROL
MARRIAGE AS A CHANGE AGENT
STRUCTURES THAT SUPPORT LIFE
VERMONT AND NATURE
TO HELL WITH DIGNITY
COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD
DOUBLE VISION
WHAT SHAPES LIFE
DISMANTLING SELF
TOLERATING GOD’S LOVE
MAKING FRIENDS WITH GOD

 

 

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