I will write a lot about meditation and how I schedule it, because it’s one real answer to the question of “what have you been up to lately?” That I almost never offer in conversation.
Of course there is so much already written about meditation and as much as I could say about it, I don’t really want to add to the noise. I know that a lot of people are very confused or frustrated about the topic of meditation, and I can you speak from my own experience of confusion and frustration there. Of all the things you could do, doesn’t sitting there and doing nothing seem like one of the worst ways to spend your time? It often has to me. And after however many years of daily practice, I’m still not immune to that feeling.
So I’m just offering a bit of a definition here, that is also motivating. If you set aside all of the “benefits“, or the incentives, or notions from yourself or others that this is something you “should“ do… you can look at a practice like meditation in a very simple way, as a way of becoming more intimate or directly knowledgeable about your own mind and awareness.
they say that the best nutrient for a plant is the gardener’s shadow. Or something like that. Think about the things you spend hours on. How intimate are you with driving your car or whatever transportation you use? After so many years it is like an extension of your body. There are some funny studies showing that we try to physically shrink our bodies when navigating our vehicles through tight spaces.
I could give 100 other examples. Experience, direct knowledge, observation, intimacy. Maybe those aren’t the only requirements for building a skill, but putting in the time is usually necessary.
what’s the skill? The black magic of the super-meditator? Familiarity with his inner process.
A cursory examination of psychology 101 Will prove that we are very biased, we are always fooling ourselves, we are each a mess of competing personalities and desires. And that mess shows up in everything we do, everywhere we go. We can’t just snap our fingers and become rational, Precise actors in the world.
but we can study the process by which our feelings mix with our thoughts and mix with our senses and our actions. You can watch the movie in your mind, and come to know the prevailing plot lines. It’s always happening, and it’s really quite incredible! You could even say, of all the ways to spend your time, what could be more interesting?
so The rewards are just a byproduct. And because it’s not a competition, I don’t imagine that a few more years of practice is going to turn me into a god, or even necessarily more kind or more focused than my neighbor. But if I’m interested at all in my own way of living, and the outcomes of my actions, then having some familiarity with the inner process is a must.
There’s always more to learn, there are surprises around every corner, and what is love but a type of intimate knowledge anyway? The way you watch your baby or your pet sleep, patiently and studiously, attempting to read his mind and wishing him good dreams, that’s love.
The only opportunity you’ll ever have to REALLY know a person, at this depth and perspective, is within your own mind & experience. So get to know yourself, spend the time. I can assure you that like the other people and things you want to get closer to, you’re certainly worth knowing!