Remember what it feels like to fall in love? There is a sense of being bigger than you thought you were. We find ourselves energetically intertwined with the other, delightfully unable to separate out her (or his) effervescent swirl from our own grounded practicality. Now, imagine that your heart led you to feel that way toward everything, as if you had fallen in love with life itself; as if you felt the presence of the divine everywhere, and especially in yourself. That is the promise of meditation.
So, how does it work? Meditating helps us wake up to the truth that we are not alone; that our interconnectedness with all there is leaves no separation, just “one of us” playing out the game of existence in myriad forms. We do not try to fix anything, change anything, or control our experience to achieve desired mind states. Nor do we attempt to tame our impurities, such as a busy mind. Rather, we simply learn how to come home to the sacred within — that which is already perfect and beautiful.
Albert Einstein, a meditative role model, understood the need to draw on all aspects of his being in unlocking the mysteries of the universe, and himself, which he understood to be one and the same. Einstein described his creative means by saying, “I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” And “Imagination is more important than knowledge; I think rarely in words at all.” As a result, he sought daily to leaven his analytical pursuits with walks in the forest and playing Mozart on his violin. Both activities helped him draw upon a more balanced repertoire of intelligence.
Similarly, in meditation we learn to rebalance our analytical quest for knowledge with increased reliance on intuitive, body/heart-centered wisdom channels. In a phrase, feeling, not thinking. We stop the incessant doing and through gentle self-discovery open to the radiance already within. Our practice is about, quite simply, allowing universal energy to stream through us while softening our efforts at control. Allowing is the key quality, a type of cosmic surrender. We simply embrace life as it shows up, finding, as Einstein did, increasingly skillful ways to just be in its flow.
We have all experienced what it’s like to be fully absorbed in an activity, even to the point of feeling one with it. Gardening, playing music, creating art, exercising, or even writing are just a few examples. As a musician who practices (or you could say meditates musically) every day, I can feel when I’ve penetrated the veil of separateness. For me it’s like I have transitioned from the one playing the instrument to the one being played, that a profound sense of connectivity is using me as the instrument to play its song of universal love.
The great spiritual teacher Gangaji sums it up this way: “The truth of who you are is already awake, already free, already pure, already beautiful and whole and in love with itself. And in surrendering to the truth of who you are, you find yourself in everyone and everything.”
In case you’re feeling saturated from all this “meditative mystery,” and wondering how a typical session might unfold, here’s a little taste for you to try on your own. Admittedly, it’s not exactly like being in a class, but you might get enough of a sense to pursue the joys of meditation further.
Sit quietly, perhaps with eyes closed. Just be here for a few minutes, allowing your awareness to shift from an outward gaze to an inward gaze. Maybe follow your breath as if it is breathing you. Once you can feel the redirection inward, offer yourself the gift of luxuriating in the loving awareness of your own heart. Take your time — there is nothing to do, nowhere to go, just feel into the experience of occupying your heart. Slowing down even more, witness your energy expanding as you begin to embrace the love all around you. Perhaps you might even notice that you are that love. Then, ask yourself, “Who am I now? Am I that separate, lonely being whence I started? Or has my more spacious self begun to fall in love with life itself — no boundaries, just endless, loving connection?”
Congratulations, you’ve just given yourself the gift of your own heart. Sit back and feel the gratitude that emerges quite naturally for being alive. That is the promise of meditation.
It’s easy to try a class, and no prior experience is necessary. Meditation classes meet for one hour at 9:30 am on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. Just send Ed an email at email@example.com and request the Zoom link. And because he has sponsors like the Councils on Aging and the Unitarian Universalist Society of M.V., it’s free.