Fall into Love
Lately I have been surprised to perceive how much meditation is a process of falling into love with natural qualities. Let me run that by you again. If you want to meditate, select some quality of life that you have been craving, that you sense you need, or that you adore. Explore this quality, and notice what in particular you are craving or are attracted to. Let it become individual and specific to you. Name it. Then use that name as your mantra.
For example, last night in meditation class a man said that he was craving peace. I asked, "What about peace do you crave right now?" He thought about that for a few minutes, and said, "It is that quiet rumble of silence, where the room is full of silence, and it is as if there is an OM somewhere rumbling, a hum of peace." Having named that, he had thus prepped himself to go deep into meditation, and he did. Forty-five minutes later he emerged as if he had been on vacation for a long time.
I asked people to notice one, two, or three qualities of life they were loving right now, and then, if they felt like it, to allow themselves to become saturated, filled, immersed in those qualities.
A woman said, "Potency. Eros." She then closed her eyes and let those qualities call her into a deep, rejuvenating meditation. She felt like she was being caressed by the universe, and emerged sparkling and strong.
Another woman, who tends to be a bit shy, said, "To own my own space." Later she said her mind went quiet and she was immersed in her inner world and felt sublimely peaceful.
There is a natural wisdom in love. This is the force that powers meditation. Love is a quality of attraction between opposites, in which we want to mingle with that which we love. We want to embrace what we love, and be embraced by it, him, her. Love is the impulse to be at one with the beloved.
Give Up on Spiritual CorrectnessTo discover what we love, we have only to ask, to inquire. Give up all political correctness and spiritual correctness, and listen. Open your inner eyes and see. Get in touch with yourself.
Almost everyone in my groups is committed to love – they are husbands and wives, fathers, mothers, are dating someone, are engaged, or are single parents raising kids. Some are getting to know themselves after decades of devoting themselves to other people, raising children. For people who get up in the morning, year after year and devote themselves to tending to others, it feels slightly taboo to focus on their own needs. It feels selfish. And it is. In meditation we have to suffer through the process of letting life care for us, as we care for others. That's what is so rejuvenating about it.
Most of us have a layering of what we think we "should" experience and should want – a blank mind, or compassion, or focus, or peace. We usually clean up our language before admitting it to ourselves, or someone else. I prepare my students to catch their first thought in its raw form, if they can. Or, if they have said something spiritually correct, to track it back to its essential form.
A man, the father of two small children, said, "I want my mind to go blank. I want it to stop."
I asked, "Then what? What would be good about that?"
He said, "Then I could rest."
I asked, "What is stopping you from resting?"
He replied, "Each thought has an urge to action in it, and at the same time a sense of pain, a twinge of pain."
I said, "That is what meditation feels like for me too, when I am tired. And that is what every busy person feels, at least part of the time in meditation. It's 'The Attack of the Dreaded To-Do List.'"
He looked at me skeptically.
I continued, "Would you be willing to feel alternating restfulness and pain, if this would help you to heal your sore nerves?"
"Well, I guess."
I asked, "What kind of relaxation would be strong enough an anchor, so that you have something to return to when your mind is busy thinking thoughts that twinge with pain?"
He said, "If I could just lie down and sink into the floor."
I said, "That sounds good."
Half an hour later he reported that when he lay down, the sensation of gravity pulling him down into the floor became quite tangible, a relaxation mantra. Many thoughts came and went, each one bringing an urge to jump up and do stuff. Each thought hurt, but over the period of twenty minutes, the pain gradually subsided. It was as if his nerves were being massaged by the restfulness of surrendering to gravity.
In this case, he needed to let his craving for rest and repose become tangible and sensuous, the bodily sensation of sinking into gravity. This had to become intense and strong enough to counterbalance his urge to action and fatigue from sleep deprivation. (All parents of young children seem to be sleep-deprived.)
Ever-changing Textures of Love
Each day, what we crave may change: rest, excitement, thrill, connection, safety, fullness, emptiness, light, darkness, levity, gravity, floating, heaviness, to feel contained and snug, to feel expansive and uncontained. These are all qualities of life.
So when we say, meditation can be described as falling into love with life, we need to train ourselves to detect which particular qualities we are in love with today. This process of sensing what we need and love, then meditating on those qualities, is what makes meditation so rejuvenating and evolutionary. We emerge refreshed and ready to live.
If you are not experiencing this, you may be imposing some anti-life ideals on yourself, or doing the wrong kind of meditation for the type of person you are.