Congrats! You’ve got a regular meditation practice going. Perhaps it was something that fit like a glove the first time you did it – something you knew you’d for the rest of your life. More than likely it wasn’t quite that easy. Like the other good habits in your life this too might have take a few tries on the horse before you got the hang of it and managed to fit into your routine.
If you’ve got a regular practice, you’ve probably experienced some benefits from the practice. It might have been some space or relief from distress. It might even have been a realization that your problem existed more in your mind than in your life. Like a soap bubble you might have observed your trouble suddenly pop.
You’ve bought the sales pitch
They sold it by telling us meditation is the solution to the seemingly interminable problems that beset us continuously in our lives. After all it’s quite simple and compelling. We take classes to master computers and cooking but how come we don’t invest in learning (even mastering) our minds. The history is compelling. 2,500 years ago a prince who realized that possessing the riches of the kingdom did not insulate him from the old age, sickness, and death that would eventually make his acquaintance. He discovered a compelling solution – look inward. He encapsulated his prescription in seemingly sound instructions with logical steps.
But now what?
You have a daily practice. You may have even signed up for retreats. If your life situation accommodates the time away from work and family you’ve had residential retreats. Days and possibly weeks cloistered from the everyday world. Joined by like-minded practitioners you’ve woken up before the sunrise and shuffled silently into meditation halls. You’ve stayed persistent as your mind jousted with you. You’ve held steady as your leg fell asleep and threatened to break and fall off during a session. And maybe you think as a result you’ve caught sight of a moment where everything is serene. Coming around the bend just as you contemplate giving up the whole endeavor it arrives. A complete peace or signs of it that seemingly validates the enterprise.
So what now?
It seems to appear that like most things in life meditation is a skill to be developed. Perhaps it’s like the 10,000 rule – you need to stay at it. You look wistfully at the younger sojourners who were ‘lucky’ enough to discuss this practice before the entrapment of work and family life reduced their opportunity.
But is this right?
You look around and you see people who’ve been at it for 20 years still persevering on. The seem calmer and quieter but you wonder if their minds are quiet. Maybe external quietude is just the result of a lot of physical practice of sitting quietly. After all, what was that temper tantrum that he threw last week all about? Did the head teacher really have that affair? And he’s been meditating for gosh 40 years.
What if this were all just a ruse?
An elaborate trap. The emperor has no clothes.
What if everyone around you were looking in the same way for the same unattainable goal. Perhaps the calm you experienced were no more than freak accidents of neurochemistry. Moments where your brain just changes course and leaves you without thoughts? After all you remember that hiking trip when after 3 hours of walking silently in nature you crested the hill and the vastness was mirrored by the vastness in your mind. And that was before you had heard about meditation. What if the experiences in meditation were no more of a fluke than the experiences you had in the seemingly ordinary life?
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This is what we’ll explore.