By Thomas Roberts
Thomas Roberts leads The Path of Simply Being: A Meditation Retreat, November 15-17
These days you hear a great deal about meditation. This kind of meditation, that kind of meditation; all sorts of books describing what it is and what it can do for you. Often meditation is associated with a particular religion or spiritual practice. Let’s clear something up right at the start.
Meditation is not a religion. Meditative/contemplative practices have been part of numerous spiritual practices throughout history. No one owns it.
Meditation is not Prozac. It does not cure or solve anything.
Meditation does not make you a better parent, a better doctor, a better student, help you be less depressed or anxious.
In fact meditation does no-thing at all!
Like everything else that gets exploited, meditation is now neatly packaged for your consumptive desires.
Everybody is touting and selling meditation. Step right up and get yours.
Okay let’s restore some sanity here.
A meditation practice doesn’t help you overcome anything. It just helps you face your life with greater patience, openness and compassion.
If you do meditation for some outcome you’re not doing mindfulness. I’m not sure what you’re doing and it may be beneficial but it is not meditation.
You see, the real practice of meditation has no outcome. You don’t do meditation to get anywhere or achieve anything. If you do, you run the risk of becoming attached to that particular outcome and that interferes with your meditation practice.
So why practice mindfulness?
All the great teachers (Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Toltec, Muslim, Native Peoples) have taught one thing:
The only reason to practice mindfulness is this:
to wake up!!!!
To wake up!
A regular meditation practice simply peels back the layers of self-deception to see things clearly as they truly are. The more you wake up, the more you are able to live your life from an open compassionate heart, and a balanced calm mind; from a deep place of innate wisdom. The benefits of awakening move in all directions throughout all your experiences.
Meditation is the awakening of our entire experience, not just our minds; the awakening of our entire body-mind and its sensory experience. This awakening reduces our fear-based reactions and cultivates our natural ability respond to others and ourselves with great patience, openness and compassion. Our senses become alive with wonder and curiosity for past conditionings and limiting attachments.
So let’s stop all this nonsense of trying to practice meditation for any particular outcome.
It comes down to this: Practice this enduring skill for its own sake, and everything else will take care of itself.
The simple yet profound practice of mindful meditation, whether on a cushion or in a chair, or in a grocery line, or talking with another, just keeps you in an open, balanced, and compassionate place that just makes this a better world.
The Path of Simply Being retreat will be a wonderful experience in developing a meaningful and beneficial meditation practice.
You need not have any prior meditation experience. Or you may wish to attend to deepen or re-kindle your practice.
Hope to see you here at Shambhala!
P. S. Here is a video I made of the practice of meditation: