Many people – and I used to be one of them – have a skewed idea about what meditation is.
I used to think that only really spiritual people could meditate; that it took years of practice of sitting in total silence to do it properly; and that there was one right way to do it – and also that I didn’t know how.
What I have found from experience is that most of those preconceptions are really the wrong way around.
What I have learnt is that, that rather than having to be spiritual before we can meditate, it is by the process of meditation that we can start to experience the spiritual within us.
When we seek for our own inner spirituality in others, or in religious communities, or in reading great books, all we get is other people’s ideas of spirituality. When we sit silently, when we stop the process of practical learning, and seek to find our own acceptance, then we start to learn what the spiritual part of us is all about. We become our own guru, our own teacher.
Meditation can take many forms. And sometimes it is a very rewarding experience to sit with someone who is skilled in leading a period of meditation. This can be a time of growth, where we learn to give up our own preconceived ideas, and become open to others.
Some of our most spiritual moments come when we are in a room with others, and we all follow a set time to meditate with our own selves. This may seem strange at first – why would we sit with other people and none of us talk – how can that be helpful?
And yet in some strange way the shared experience – even though we are all in our own separate mental space – takes us to a different level than we find just by ourselves.
But these are forms that most people would recognize as meditation – there are other ways to meditate that do not look so formal.
To walk can be to meditate – my preference is for a forest or the seashore, but anywhere will do. Whilst walking we let our mind be simply aware of the surroundings – we do not think about them or anything else in particular, but just experience without conscious intervention. This process can clear our minds like none other.
It can take practice, but after a time it is possible to let the mind be free for a time of the constraints of the body, and experience something of the spirit within and all around us.
Then we are truly meditating.