Tomorrow I will start a three day meditation course at the Tushita meditation centre in Dharamshala. I popped in this morning for another drop in class just to get a taste of things to come. It was a full house today, which is always nice to see, I think around 60 people were there of all ages and cultures, all of us with one thing in mind... very simply to meditate with the guidance of our teacher. Its interesting how much easier it is to meditate for longer than I am used to when i am guided, and this morning we did two different meditations which lasted around 45 minutes. The teacher spoke a lot and helped us to navigate our minds and our emotions and to fill ourselves with light and love and to set beautiful intentions for things that we may want to manifest in our lives. I especially like it when things are free, or by donation, they tend to be more authentic and sacred. Some people say you don’t get anything for free in life, whereas others say the best things in life are free.. I know which ethos i subscribe to!
There is something to be said for the space we meditate in, and if you are lucky enough to have a spare room or large corner of your home that is undisturbed it help so much to create distance from the worldly distractions. If you meditate then i highly recommend setting up an alter that can consist of any things that you find to be beautiful and inspire you to relax and feel appreciation. I like to have a few photos but also i always like to have some natural elements. Flowers are one of the best, along with sacred stones, statues, and trinkets that add colour and a relaxed feeling when you look at them. Ultimately an alter is a sacred place where you do nothing but meditate at, or perhaps also some contemplation.
Over time, if you use that space regularly, it builds up an energy that holds you and helps you to relax into meditation much faster. It also has a sense of familiarity because you only meditate there. Therefore once you sit down you immediately shift into that mode as that is what you are used to. It's a real help and that space can be very small indeed. Of course a huge temple, or a cave, or other space that is used by others for the same purpose can be a great way to learn how to shift from our daily active minds into a much calmer and softer way with ourselves. It's so easy to be never-ending thinking about the things that we want to achieve, as well as our very monotonous thoughts about negative things, our problems, and how life may be really quite difficult.
The simple truth is that the more we spend time worrying and thinking, the more we get stuck in it. It becomes like a pattern and familiar way of being, and if we have done it all our lives, we can not really imagine being any different. We even start to identify ourselves with our thoughts, because that is all we know. When we start to meditate it is ground breaking because after some time we lose our attachments to our thoughts. They may still come, but we do not cling to them, or give them the same importance that we normally do. Once we have had the experience of having a more still mind, and realise that in fact most of our thoughts are not productive, it is a kind of liberation. WE discover that we do not have to think to be ourselves, and in fact we discover that we feel so much better once we can let them go.. at least for the time we are meditating.
Of course this all takes time, and meditation is a step by step process. WE have to get used to being and relating to ourselves in a different way, and not feel weird or strange that we are just sitting there without doing anything. That silence can be very loud for some people, and indeed quite literally for me i have recently discovered i have tinnitus! This constant ringing in my ears is not something i had any idea about before a week ago when i started to meditate in a cave in Rishikesh. As soon as i got in there i noticed it, then thereafter i have realised that it is happening all the time. Even now i am aware of this. I cant say its the greatest thing, but it does illustrate how having a quieter mind can reveal many things, not just ringing in our ears, it can also bring to our awareness parts of ourselves and feelings that we may have been distracted from our whole lives. It is this awareness that is part of meditation, to reveal parts of ourselves, including the positive things, that we may have missed for a long time.
I have realised that meditation is an incredible gift to ourselves. Its one of the few things that we can do that costs nothing, we can do anywhere, and we can choose just how much time and effort we wish to put toward it. The more effort and time we dedicate to it, the greater the gifts we receive. These gifts come in many forms, it's not just about feeling more peaceful. The way that we think, react, and feel about our day and what we are doing are all uplifted in ways that is hard to describe. We make SO many choices every moment, not just the things we want to do, but also the things we want to not do. I have found that i make far better choices when i am calm and more peaceful. In fact i think it's fair to say that when i am feeling stressed out i usually make the exact opposite choices than the ones that are really good for me.
What this means is that this is life changing because when we meditate our entire day can change based on the choices we make, and the things we attract to ourselves. It's hard to be open, and to connect with others when we are feeling angsty. When we are smiling and happy suddenly good things come our way, as if by magic.
If you have never meditated before, try it. It's that simple. Its like anything we try that is new, at first it is hard, and we may not even want to try it. Once we have taken our first step, we can immediately receive the benefits, but it takes just trying it to understand. It is only through experience that we can truly understand what it is that meditation is, and what it is that it is not. Meditation is different for all of us, and so i hope maybe some of you who read this will understand this and give it a shot. It may be the best thing you have done for yourself for a long time!
Much love and may all beings be happy.