You can’t be involved in the personal and spiritual growth movement without hearing about the benefits of meditation. Every time I read about it or see an interview on TV, I think “Man that sounds great, I’m going to give it another try.”
People who make mediation an integral part of their lives talk about feeling a deep sense of peace and calm. They expand their mind and feel a closer connection with God. But that’s not what I experience.
Here’s what happens with me. I lay down and watch all the thoughts come and go. Sometimes I use visualizations or sounds to replace incoming thoughts. I pay attention to how long I can go without a thought. Over time, I’ve been able to extend the moments my mind is still.
And then……….I get bored. Mind-numbingly bored. Like watching paint dry or listening to someone talk about hydraulic pumps. I don’t allow a thought like “I should call mom” to linger but I also don’t grant permission for more inspiring thoughts like “thank god for this incredible life” to be entertained either. I’m not having any thoughts, so where’s the peace? For me, all I get is dead silence.
Intellectually I can understand if you are having a lot of negative thoughts that result in anxiety, stopping those thoughts would feel great. But I have grown. Most of those demons leave me alone now. So what’s in it for me?
In the past my first go-to assumption would have been “there’s something wrong with me” or “I’m doing it wrong”. But I now know I’m absolutely perfect just the way I am (so are you, by the way). So I have come up with a different hypothesis.
Perhaps the form of mediation that works best for me is sitting still in nature with a book and journal by my side. For example, I remember a scuba diving trip my husband and I took with another couple to a very small island off Belize. Mid-week they wanted to make an early morning dive to a site about an hour away. I didn’t want to go – I wanted some alone time.
As I sat down on my lounge chair under an umbrella, I watched them load their gear into a small wooden boat and disappear over the horizon. I’m not sure how long I sat there but it must have been at least 4 hours and I never got bored. I read, wrote and had long periods of just staring out at the ocean. I was in heaven. I remember at one point feeling overwhelmed with a sense of joy and peace and thinking “We’re like hydrogen and oxygen molecules forming a vast ocean. Separation is an illusion.”
I’ve had many other experiences similar to that time alone on the beach and they always involved being alone in nature with a book, a pad of paper and a pen. If people who meditate are experiencing anything even remotely close to what I experience in those moments, it’s no wonder they rave about it the way they do.
So tell me, what’s your form of mediation? Why do you meditate? What’s in it for you?
Inquiring minds want to know.