Meditation Is Part of the Conversation
Today I had a conversation with two women about meditation, while we were at a mutual friend’s birthday party. It was not an Ananda gathering and even while enjoying the exchange, part of my mind was fascinated that meditation has become a mainstream conversation topic.
One woman expressed confusion and asked me to explain meditation to her; because every time she asks, the answer is different. She then shared her experience with a meditation class in which the teacher led students through a guided visualization technique that was relaxing, but unsatisfying.
She said, “I think I’m missing something, but I’m not sure what it is.”
Meditation Is Focused Concentration on the Divine
When I told her that Ananda teaches that meditation is focused concentration on God, or an aspect of God, her eyes lit up with interest. I felt that was enough encouragement to continue, so I offered the possibility that the visualization of walking through lovely imagined scenery was limited because it wasn’t real.
Spending time in a relaxed state thinking of nice things can be beneficial. If you are looking for lower blood pressure and escape from stress, it is a good practice. But there is a point where part of you realizes you are playing a nice game and the game only takes you so far.
But focusing on what is changeless and always true—the inner peace and calmness that is your true nature, and clearing away the debris so you can experience the highest within you—now that’s real.
Then, with deep feeling, she told me that what “works” for her is to repeat the 23rd Psalm: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.
She turned and asked her friend, “Do you feel that way? That God restores your soul?”
After considering, her friend agreed that when she took communion, she felt like that.
Everyone Experiences Meditation Differently
I felt their sincerity and their longing, and I affirmed, “That’s because it is real.” The Psalm is inherently true, but it also has truth and meaning on a personal level, so it “works” to take her to a place of deep stillness and expanded awareness, just as communion does for her friend. After some more friendly discussion, I was asked to come teach meditation to their service group.
If you ask twenty people, “What is meditation?” you will most likely get a variety of answers, as this woman did. Even if you ask different people within Ananda, the answer will vary somewhat, depending on a variety of factors. But always, Ananda techniques of meditation are for discovering, experiencing, and living the truth of your own highest nature.
I’ve struggled with many wrong ideas about meditation over the years. I have been concerned about what a model devotee should do, or anxious for immediate signs of sainthood. I’ve been worried about pleasing others, guilty of feeling guilty when I didn’t meet my goals, or painfully embarrassed when comparing myself to every meditator I know. I could write a book on “101 ways to try to get yourself to meditate more.”
Despite all the wrong thinking and the failed attempts to find a shortcut to sainthood, I keep coming back to meditating, because it puts me in touch with the only thing that is always true every time I sit down in the silence. In that silence, I know what is real.
I encourage you to try it. Try meditating, for real.