Meditation is the ultimate life-changing experience. The point of meditation is to set you free.
In a sense, it’s the only freedom really possible, but freedom from what? You could say “Freedom from anything that isn’t really you.”
In the ordinary human experience, what we believe as “me” or “I” is thoughts about the content of our life, our body, our mind — beliefs, ideas and concepts about ourselves. None of these things is who we really are.
It’s attachment and identification to these things that stops us seeing our true selves. So, we are actually “asleep,” in the sense that there is no higher awareness that can say “oh, that was a thought (or feeling).”
Just like when you’re dreaming there’s no higher awareness that knows you’re dreaming until you start to wake up and then you can say “oh, I’m dreaming.”
When you’re fully awake, you’d say “that was a dream.” If there is no higher awareness, then there is no choice. In the “normal” level of awareness thoughts and feelings become us, because all our attention is in them. There is nothing higher — like in the dream…
So normally we are like slaves to thoughts and feelings.
Who am I?
Your true self is bigger than the ego — the identification and attention lost in thoughts and things. You are the awareness or consciousness or essence in which all the stuff of life happens. But the words don’t do the experience of meditation justice. The experience is very difficult to describe but for me it’s always wonderfully pleasurable and sometimes blissful.
I once had an amazing experience where I felt as if I was absorbed into love itself. It felt like home — I felt as if I wanted to just stay like that forever and ever. The truth is that if we let life flow through us, if we can let go of our attachments and ideas — truly let go, then life becomes infinitely more beautiful and we can just be naturally what we are.
No more concepts, no more role playing. It’s a kind of magnificent simplicity that makes everything shiny and new again.
Precious distance — witness consciousness
You can see that when your attention is sucked into thoughts and emotions, how painful that can be but if you’re witnessing these things, there’s a precious distance that allows freedom and choice where there was none before. By learning to be a witness to all that happens inside you, the shackles of attachment and identification with your physical, mental and emotional aspects drop away.
If your attention is swept away by thought or emotion, what power do you have except to act it out? The thought or emotion becomes you. Witnessing allows the ultimate freedom, because it allows choice.
Meditation is the way of many spiritual traditions to “awaken” or become “enlightened” (light is that “stuff” you can sense in someone who is delightful — full of light). All these words are mental constructs themselves — the stuff of thought, so it’s very difficult to get a handle on what they actually mean. It’s all abstract.
It’s my strong belief that it’s a mistake to get attached to all the words and labels used in spiritual traditions. Or to put it another way… “Don’t bother trying to ‘Love thy neighbor,’ just meditate.”
Trying to mentally grasp spiritual truth is impossible. The problem is itself with mental constructs, intellectual abstracts of the world. The words only have value in convincing you to practice. Only practice will do it. “Loving your neighbor” and a whole host of other benefits come from practice of meditation, not understanding words. That’s my experience.
Can you see that trying to “love your neighbor,” is the ego trying to be a better person? But when you are established in your true self, love is a natural expression of who you actually ARE.
Meditation eventually results in an awakening or enlightenment where you realize who you really are. In more practical terms, you start to dis-identify with the content of your life — your body, thoughts/feelings, possession and roles and your identity becomes established in something bigger — YOU.
There is a saying that “God is Love.” And another one that says “The kingdom of Heaven is within.” Love is what you are, in essence, and you can discover that for yourself by the dedicated practice of meditation.
Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.
Read Chapter 1 “The Happiness Secret”
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