Why Do I Meditate?

~ Daria’s Pastoral Reflection on meditation, presented at James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church, Madison WI, on July 29, 2007 ~

So… our topic is meditation. And let me say up front that I do not meditate regularly!

Not on a schedule anyway.

However, I have definitely meditated, and perhaps even a fair amount. More when you consider rocking a child in the dark, humming a tune over and over while maintaining an open empty awareness (so you know when they fall asleep) — while not falling asleep yourself — is a meditation. So is empty-minded weeding, or doing dishes, although this sort of time can be contemplative too. Try this one tomorrow: in the shower, just listen to the water.

I love guided meditations; they’re fun and interesting. I love breathing meditations; I had asthma as a kid and I love how easily and deeply I can breathe now. I like focused meditations because my mind wanders so fast and freely and far. Yoga is like a moving meditations. I’ve done eating meditations, walking meditations, and plain old empty-your-mind-and-breathe sitting meditations.

To me, meditation is a life skill exercise. An exercise that prepares us for what we must do in life. In grade school, we practiced artithmetic tables until they were second nature, because we now spend the rest of our lives adding and subtracting. We practiced writing because once we were out of school, we found ourselves writing all the time.  (Look here! *pointing to paper* Who wrote an email yesterday?) We also learned to exercise so that when we need it, we can do something physical, easily.

So why meditate? What am I practicing?

The Buddhists have said for millennia (or so) that to be happy, you have to let go of, or step beyond, your rational, busybody, judgmental inner dialogue, and simply BE. Be present in the present. Desire and opinion and preferences will drive you nuts because these thoughts, this thinking process, is a distraction from the reality in front of you. The working of our minds prevents us from seeing what is truly in front of us, and from enjoying it and loving it as it is. (If I criticize something, am I really seeing it for how it is, or am I just seeing what I wish it was?)

So why do I meditate? To practice. To practice getting beyond my rational mind into my knowingness. So I can quickly access that place of no judgment, of listening, when I need it. So I can hear my heart speak.

Last night my husband and I had a fascinating discussion that essentially boiled down to this: if someone tells you something, or that they experienced something you are unfamiliar with, how do you know it’s true? My darling husband said you really can’t tell, so his first reaction to hearing something new is to doubt.  (Anyone identify with that approach? *raising one of my hands*)

But I looked at him… lovingly and patiently of course… and I said, oh yes you can tell whether someone is lying or not. You absolutely can, every time. That information is available to us. A part of you simply knows. In fact, everything you need to know to make the right decisions, to exercise your free will, and to live a happy life, is available to you.

There is a place of knowingness we all have, which is beyond rational thought. In my lifetime, for me, it has not once ever been wrong. I can’t always hear it, true. I more frequently doubt it or rationalize it away. But now I actively try to find that inner knowing, recognize it, and honor it by listening.

And the first step to knowingness is quieting my inner chatter.

Don’t get me wrong — I love my rational mind. It can do fun things. I love puzzles and reading about new things. I need my mind to do so many useful things, such as run my healing practice. But sometimes I want that guidepost of inner knowing. I need to hear my soul sing. So I practice getting there.

I meditate.

© 2007 Daria Boissonnas, all rights reserved.

1 Comment
  1. And so it is.

    (I’m back. CAPTCHA says my comment is too short. Which of the gods is in control of that code?)