meditation.... from a book?
we live in an age of fast food and immediate gratification, in all areas of modern lives.
I've noticed in spirituality that people seem to want maximum results for minimal effort -- and now! -- which is fine, but may also lead to disappointment and increased challenges to faith (and patience, goes without saying), and quite possibly, frustration with the process of spiritual experience or growth.
along these lines, someone asked me recently what book I would recommend to learn how to meditate. I didn't have to think very long before responding -- because I honestly wouldn't recommend a book as a substitute for a meditation teacher. (same goes for apps, which are becoming all the fast-food rage amongst the New Age crowd with smart phones.....)
let me clarify, before you get your nirvana in a snit.
of course, someone can learn to meditate by reading someone else's book on meditation.
but HOW efficiently, clearly, well, and powerfully will they learn to meditate? this is the question. and it's an imporant one.
in the Indian Vedic tradition, the meditation initiation is passed down from teacher to student as a live transmission; a living, breathing, electrified, energetic experience (in addition to whatever instruction accompanies the transmission). it is a living tradition, a powerful passing on of soul energy and consciousness from one who has a lot of it to spare, to a relatively new, or untrained, individual. it is in the live transmission that the energy and consciousness, the living presence of 'how to meditate,' is passed on to the novice.
side note about mantra meditation
generally, (and yes, this is a longer discussion than this blog entry today,) efficient, soul-increasing meditation is done via mantra. there are hundreds of ways to meditate and a thousand different people will each have a unique definition of what (or why) they meditate -- however, some meditation techniques are more effective than others.
I would offer that mantra is the best way to meditate -- for a number of reasons, including the essence (to me) of meditation... which lies in increasing the open communication between the surface level of awareness (like the mind) and the deeper inner consciousness (beneath the soul).
sitting in the silence is fine. staring at a wall is fine. guided visualizations are fine. eyes open, fine. eyes closed, fine. the list is endless......
.... and yet, none of these techniques accomplish what mantra does so effortlessly -- allows the mind to transcend itself, and the deep inner silence to be accessed rapidly. in the inner silence, the soul itself is expanding, gaining more clarity, power, creativity, capacity and self-awareness.
given that mantra is so powerful -- why not just get a mantra from a book and repeat it all the time in meditation?
sure, you can do that. many people do do that. (so does that make it good?)
the book component, the DIY approach to mantra meditation, is missing a few key things -- the first and foremost being the live transmission of an energized/charged mantra for you personally (and that's a very big deal) -- the second being a clear explanation of and on-going guidance into the nuances of the experience of meditation itself.
why settle for a fast-food approach?
it's like wanting desperately to have a gourmet meal prepared by a master chef (while you watch, so you can learn how to create the same meal, yourself) or eating a frozen dinner that was produced in a factory.
yes, you'll get enough nutrition to keep your body going, with the latter. but the quality of that nourishment? not so much.
my response to my friend's inquiry, then, was to suggest taking a workshop with me on meditation, to get the proper instruction, complete with a powerful mantra, and all the nuances about the process of meditation including what is really happening between the mind, the heart, the soul and the inner consciousness at the different stages and experiences of using a mantra -- plus the direct transmission from an experienced, energetic teacher of a living, breathing entity of a teaching that goes straight to the soul.
since my friend lives in Europe, I helpfully posted a link to a pre-existing (recorded) webinar that I taught a few months ago -- thinking it's a total treasure trove for anyone wanting to learn how to meditate thoroughly and dynamically.
oddly enough, I never heard from her again on the subject.
meditation is precious
which silence brought me back to ruminating on the delicate, powerful process of meditating in a solid, dynamic way -- and how few people seem to understand just how precious an experience meditation really is. or why it should be covered thoroughly by someone with a lot of experience in meditation. or why a living tradition is so much more satisfying to the beautiful desire to learn how to meditate -- and as such, is well worth pursuing.
meditating effectively, with good guidance as you navigate the twists and turns of developing an on-going meditation practice, is a total treasure, and a priceless treasure at that. meditation can make the difference between inner peace and total chaos in life, between heightened creativity and energy versus a tired, numb (lack of) awareness, and even a massive difference between ill health or radiance -- both inside and out.
take the time to find a real teacher
if you're a beginning meditator, or someone who's curious about the process of meditation, please, please, find a living teacher with a solid practice (hopefully a mantra-based practice). it will make all the difference in the world to your experience.
you do NOT have to settle for fast food! nor should you!
and if you can't find such a teacher, there's always my webinar -- ready to share the gourmet spread with anyone who asks for it.
good luck, and happy meditating.
om shanti shanti shanti.
peace peace peace.