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
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
1) Where are you on the scale of peaceful versus harried?
2) Have you followed any discipline designed to “improve”
3) How has that worked?
GET A LIFE
THE JOY OF A DEPRESSED
OPENING MANY DOORS
THE PATH OF MEDITATION
GIVING UP CONTROL
MARRIAGE AS A CHANGE
STRUCTURES THAT SUPPORT
VERMONT AND NATURE
TO HELL WITH DIGNITY
COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD
WHAT SHAPES LIFE
MAKING FRIENDS WITH GOD