How often do you think to yourself: “I need to meditate?”
We’ve all heard celebrities going on and on about the benefits and I know you’ve read articles about mindfulness and how it can improve your life exponentially. But seriously, how often do you think, ” I need to meditate” Or “I need to listen to my inner voice. “
What does it mean to you when someone says to “look within” or listen to your “inner voice” and “inner knowing?” What exactly are you supposed to be looking within for? How will you know when you are within?
Not knowing what to look for or expect, sadly, are some of the reasons that keep many people from meditating.
We imagine that when we sit down to meditate, that somehow, magically all the chatter that fills our heads will subside and serenity will cascade over our senses. That we’ll plug into the cosmic ocean and become the all knowing, all loving person under all the mundane, messy parts that are all too familiar to us.
We imagine that it will look and feel like those new age images of rainbows and waterfalls making problems and difficult situations dissolve into the light.
It could be like that. That is possible, but mostly it isn’t and that is why we give up.
What I have learned about looking within or meditating is that at the beginning (and the beginning phase can be a long time, years even) it is about our relationship with our many selves, time, and death.
Before we go any further, let me ask you, what is your relationship to yourself these days? To the self that feels lonely? Or the self that doesn’t feel good enough? The optimistic self? Do these selves clamour for your attention? Are you kind to yourself? Do you listen?
How do you feel about time? Do you find yourself running out of time? Burning a candle at both ends? Are you living in the moment or watching as time flies by?
Last, but not least, our oldest and most faithful of friends. The only one, you can be certain, will be with you in the end: Death
These three aspects – our relationship to ourselves, time and death – influence the state of our daily consciousness. They may appear in different guises in our conversations but if we were to distill these conversations their signature would be very apparent.
When we meditate or look within, we are looking into ourselves. Invariably, we encounter feelings and thoughts about ourselves, we can either ignore or listen to these feelings. These thoughts and feelings are the ones that can and do disrupt our inner and outer life. They turn our world topsy turvy by inflating or deflating our ego’s narrative of what our lives are supposed to look like.
And because this narrative feels impossible to overcome, listening with an attitude of loving kindness is an apt approach to apply. The relationship to ourselves is a lifelong one, it influences all the other story lines we’ll ever experience, so we have to become good listeners, gentle guides and caring friends to ourselves.
Love, compassion, kindness and all the qualities that we seek to experience, including fulfillment, wisdom and prosperity – arise as by products of the process of looking within or meditation and our unfolding inner understanding.
That is what meditation or looking within offers. The possibility to become whole ourselves, make peace with disparate parts of our psyche, our past and blossom like that rare bloom of our dreams.
Meditation or mindfulness, practiced regularly and intentionally creates traction and momentum giving us much needed positive feedback loops. This in turn gives us inner equilibrium which allows calm, patience, and understanding to develop. We begin to recognize ourselves as beautiful, thoughtful, caring beings capable of generous and heroic deeds.
It is my hope that you enquire within regularly and that your inner voice speaks kindly to you and guides you home.