A lunch-time conversation yesterday with a friend brought the subject up again: many of us believe that meditation is supposed to result in a blissfully clear mind, unfettered by thoughts, worries, or remembering. And when we fail to acheive that, we give up on meditation, saying we can't do it right and even feeling inadequate for our failure.
Because meditation is so important a part of my pain management practice, and because it only brings me to a blissfully clear mind about 2% of the time (at best), I have learned for myself that meditation does not have to feel "right" to be effective. It does not seem to matter whether I come out of a session feeling that it was a good one (whatever that means), or feeling that it was a flop because my mind never shut up: the benefits for pain management are none the less real to me.
When we turn to the silence within, we take the lid off of the cauldron of worries, fears and thoughts otherwise hidden by busy-ness, noise, addictions and avoidance. In that sense, meditation leads us to and through parts of our spirits and minds that we otherwise deny and ignore. No wonder we don't often feel blissfully calm during meditation!
There's another reason to persist in a daily meditation practice. Any major world religion that I have investigated stresses the importance of meditation, although the word used may be different. It's not just the eastern religions:
- Christians call it centering prayer.
- One site I saw said that Jews meditate for intellectual focus, among other things, and also to acheive a state called "eyin," or nothingness.
- There are YouTube videos for Baha'i meditation.
- Native Americans practice meditation in many forms, all based on the sacred connection to Mother Earth and the Great Spirit. The rituals, such as sage-buring, are beautiful, too.
- The Sufi Muslims practice zikr meditation, zikr meaning "remembrance of God."
- According to Wikipedia, Samayika in Jainism, means being in the moment in continuous real time.
In my next post, I'll write about why I believe meditation benefits me spiritually and for pain management even though I rarely have a silent mind while meditating.
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