Today we are no strangers to the many mental and physical benefits of meditation. There are even apps to help, like Calm and Headspace and others. Yet oftentimes when once esoteric practices become mainstream, something of the original core becomes diluted or lost altogether. We see this in today’s religions where the original founders would hardly recognize what is being taught and believed in their name.
So, what was the original intent for meditation? To state it simply, it was taught as a mechanism to find that inner space between that which is eternal and this mind, this body. Once this space is recognized, suffering falls away because suffering can only happen within this mind and this body. Have we ever felt suffering in another place? We only feel it within our minds and our bodies – that’s the only place where pain that we feel ever shows up.
In our evolution, we have carried an instinct of self-preservation with us, and in modern society it shows up as competition, exclusivity, and everything being transactional and utilitarian. This compulsiveness of survival instincts is blown way out of proportion and we see it in the over-consumptiveness of our societies. Here again, meditation opens up the possibility of finding that space between the eternal that needs nothing and already is everything, and the mind which is always craving.
Another dimension of meditation is the feeling of bliss that is sometimes associated with it. This is produced by the pineal gland secretions and pre-existing receptors in the brain that are already prepped for these molecules. But we need to remember that this blissfulness is not the goal, it is simply an incentive. It is a milestone along the path, however many people go in just for the experience and get stuck there. It is like taking a journey from one city to another, but then pulling off at a pleasant rest spot and forgetting about the road.
Once we become established in that meditative state, in touch with the Eternal Self, then we need to integrate that with the every day. Touching the selfless Self in sitting meditation is only half the story; we need to embody the selfless Self in daily life. The sweet nectar is no use sitting in the flower, it needs to be brought out into the world in order to nurture the world. That’s what spiritual integration is all about, and it is often forgotten by practitioners.
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