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Beginning a Meditation Practice
Silence and Meditation
Today the world is experiencing a rising interest in spirituality, especially in the west, many are becoming less interested in religion and seeking the spiritual, mystical foundation, which is the bedrock of all religions. These seekers are seeking a deeper spiritual knowing. This is a liberating ambition. Beginning a spiritual practice is a simple decision and not demanding at all. It does however require a commitment to self-honesty and personal discipline to practice regularly. Nevertheless, given sufficient desire, a spiritual practice will take on its own momentum. The substantial challenge is finding what works for YOU. All spiritual disciplines have been beneficial and inwardly formative, but a spiritual practice is like a pair of shoes, some styles fit more comfortably than others do. Find a practice that you can wear comfortably.
Presuming anyone reading this has not been engaging in a consistent spiritual practice. The word 'practice' fits for this writing, because that is the most descriptive word for embarking on a regular spiritual process, you are seeking to feel your core essence, your deepest being, a presence that is past identities and all attachments to time and place. A being-ness that simply is, it says nothing, it is silent; although you will become perceptive of much communication in the silence, not an audible, or language based articulation; but a feelings based (not emotional) interpretation of being. Emotions, more times than not, are feelings that the ego-mind has focused on and magnified out of proportion to rationality, even the often-called 'good' emotions. The feelings in meditation are indescribable; language does not capture the depth or sublimity of them. These are feelings that arise when heart and mind are connected. Consciously engaging the subtler energies.
Meditation - The Mechanics
While we are on feelings, it needs to be said these feelings are not always butterflies and rainbows, dancing through a summer meadow feelings. You will experience at times uncomfortable awareness, sometimes even unsettling sensitivities, especially in the beginning period. You are simply becoming aware of what is buried, suppressed, in your sub-conscious, many times; family, society, and culture created angst, anxieties and dreads have instilled a personal timidity in some areas of you, especially for heart based endeavors. This culture has an aversion to heart based thinking and feeling, it worships left brained intellectualizing of almost everything.
When meditating you are going into your inner realm where heart and mind are one; you are not silencing your ego-mind, you are focusing your attention past your ego-mind. One of the best pieces of meditation advice is - do not struggle with your ego-mind, leave your ego-mind be. What you are doing is learning to see past ego-mind, to behold the deeper and higher, seldom acknowledged part that is you also. Your ego is your superficial you, the skin of your being here on earth. The ego is necessary for existence here in this world, but it is not the substance of your being-ness. You are going to get silent and behold the substance your being.
"This is universal. You sit and observe your breath. You can’t say this is a Hindu breath or a Christian breath or a Muslim breath." ~ Charles Johnson
How To Begin
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Find a comfortable seat. It is best that your seat allows you to keep your spine straight and both feet on the floor. Other than that, do not worry about postures, intricate yoga-like leg crossing or hand positions (called mudras). You can adopt those once you learn inner-silence sufficiently. First, you want to learn to sit simply with your eyes closed. Get comfortable with your diminished outer senses by re-directing your sense feeling inward. Your eyes are closed, yet you will still hear noises, smell scents and generally still be focused outward. That is fine. Soon environmental noise will be less distracting, you will hear it, but not notice as much. Your ego-mind will become more active at first and you will initially notice that. Watch the thoughts you are flooded with, simply watch them. Do not engage them or follow where they lead. Watch them like you watch a parade or passing train. Self-mastery’s first lesson is learning to watch ones thoughts, not manage; simply watch. With practice, you will soon be able to sink beneath your thoughts to the ambient silence of your inner presence. A mind that is re-connected with the heart becomes liberated from its thoughts, becomes the master of ones mind. You will be able to bask in the glow of your inner sun even on personally cloudy days.
Sit listening for the silence until it appears, it is always there, but not until you are turned properly inward can you hear it. It is literally the most peaceful place in the world, and it is in you. Do not allow anyone to presume to tell you what to do for your spiritual practice, that is your personal journey of discovery. Listen to others that have traveled a while in their journey sharing their experience, they may not be able to relate their experience sufficiently with words, but they will communicate in others ways authentically the depth of their experience with body language and simply a reflected inner glow. It is advisable not to try to describe what you have experienced either; words cannot do that, especially written words. Your experience will echo in your continence. Some effective guides for experiencing the mystical-spiritual are reading the early Christian, Jewish, Sufi, Buddhist or Hindu mystics, Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Hafiz and Rumi, the Jewish mystics who gifted us the Kabbalah, Goswami Tulsidas. Mysticism is the heart of all religions. Mysticism is the inner journey, the discovery of ones God presence. Mystics do not point outward to a book or person seeking God; they go inward to feel their divinity.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step", this time make that step inward, there will be wonders to behold and fears to face. The wonders and the fears are all you. Face the fear in the full knowledge that it is something that wants to become a wonder to you.