Since we’re soon to begin the 28 day meditation challenge, I’ve been reflecting on why I meditate.
The answer changes every few years. Here’s the story so far…
In the beginning
It occurred to me a long time ago that how you feel is not closely dependent on what you have and what you do.
I was at the start of my adult life, trying to work out what to do with it. I looked around and saw rich people who were miserable, famous people in and out of rehab, and just as often, someone who apparently had nothing and yet seemed grateful and content.
What I wanted most was to feel happy, so these observations didn’t make me want to go out and do anything in particular.
At the same time, I wasn’t happy! I was looking for something, but I had no idea what it was.
When I found meditation, I took to it straight away.
Here was something that was apparently good for you, had a direct effect on the way you felt and thought, and didn’t require chasing after a bunch of apparently desirable things and experiences that didn’t seem worth chasing to me.
I played around with meditation in a fairly haphazard manner for about a year, learning from books and visiting the odd swami, until I met a Buddhist meditation teacher at a festival. From there I took a course, and I’ve had a regular practice ever since.
What’s so good about meditation
Some of the things I’ve particularly liked about meditation are:
- it gives you a mind that is more clear and crisp
- it makes you more emotionally robust
- contentment is a fairly standard experience during meditation (I know some people struggle with this but for me that hasn’t been the case)
- sometimes you have amazing experiences and get a new perspective on things – especially on retreat
When I got properly into meditation, I began to meditate because I wanted to become a Buddha. I experienced the positive impact of meditation very quickly, and I extrapolated that being a Buddha must feel significantly better. So I chased that goal for a while.
Why I meditate now
Now I meditate because I realise that it benefits me, and it benefits the people around me. My desire for a pay off beyond that has dissipated. I enjoy the process and let it unfold as it will.
Meditation, and the wider context of Buddhist practice, keeps me on the right path. It’s easy to fall off, but it’s also fairly easy not to.
That might not seem like a massive deal – but to me it’s a great treasure. I guard it as well as I can.
So much of our pain is caused by our inability to sit still. We crave wealth, fame, the perfect partner, meaning, an amazing career, a big house, etc, etc, etc. We chase it and chase it, caught in the struggle.
When we get a brief moment of awareness outside of the chase, we experience a confusion, fear and despair that has us diving back into the chase as quickly as possible.
We get older, we get iller, and eventually, our life is spent. What was it all about?
I want to experience my life outside of the chase. Some people think there’s nothing beyond stuff and experiences – that a life like that would be no life at all. I mean, what would you write in your Facebook status updates?
But there is a majesty and a magic to life that is beyond all that.
That’s not to say I’m anti-stuff or anti-experiences. I love the world. I just don’t need it quite as much as I think I would have. I can enjoy the flow as well as the material and experiential cool stuff that turns up.
If that’s got you an appetite for some meditating, join in with the 28 day meditation challenge, starting Monday!