Meditation’s Big Thinkers

I teach Vedic Meditation, an effortless form of twice-daily meditation. But there are many forms of meditation, and all lead to the experience of peace. Meditation stills those nagging thoughts about money and basically relieves you of silly insecurities, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what some famous, long-time teachers have said:

Basics for Beginners
Alan Watts puts it most clearly for beginners. He (1915-1973) was an eclectic British thinker and writer who moved to California and played a key role in the counter-culture movement of the 1960s. He wrote The Way of Zen (1957) and Psychotherapy East and West (1961). This quote is from Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation:

“When somebody plays music, you listen. You just follow those sounds, and eventually you understand the music. The point can’t be explained in words because music is not words, but after listening for a while, you understand the point of it, and that point is the music itself.

In exactly the same way, you can listen to all experiences, because all experiences of any kind are vibrations coming at you. As a matter of fact, you are these vibrations, and if you really feel what is happening, the awareness you have of you and of everything else is all the same … This is always going on, whether you pay attention to it or not.

Now, instead of asking what you should do about it, you experience it, because who knows what to do about it? To know what to do about this you would have to know everything, and if you don’t, then the only way to begin is to watch.”

Nourish Yourself
Pema Chodron has written several books, including The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are, When Things Fall Apart, and most recently, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, to name just a few. This passage is from Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings:

“Meditation takes us just as we are, with our confusion and our sanity. This complete acceptance of ourselves as we are is a simple, direct relationship with our being. We call this ‘maitri,’ loving-kindness toward ourselves and others. There are four qualities of maitri that are cultivated when we meditate:

1. Steadfastness: When we practice meditation, we are strengthening our ability to be steadfast with ourselves, in body as well as mind.

2. Clear seeing: This is another way of saying that we have less self-deception. Through the process of practicing the technique day in and day out, year after year, we begin to be very honest with ourselves.

3. Experiencing our emotional distress: We practice dropping whatever story we are telling ourselves and leaning into the emotions and the fear. We stay with the emotion, experience it, and leave it as it is, without proliferating. Thus, we train in opening the fearful heart to the restlessness of our own energy. We learn to abide with the experience of our emotions.

4. Attention to the present moment: We make the choice, moment by moment, to be fully here. Attending to our present-moment mind and body is a way of being tender toward self, toward others, and toward the world. This quality of attention is inherent in our ability to love.

Changing Perceptions
Francis Lucille speaks more poetically. He is a spiritual teacher in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta (non-duality), which is the common ground of Ch’an Buddhism, Zen Taoism, and Sufism. This is from Welcoming the Totality:

“Ask yourself, ‘In my experience, do I stand separate from that which I perceive?’ Your experience is the only point of reference in deciding this question. We are not talking about philosophy here, but about perception, how we perceive the body and the world, our life itself. It may sound theoretical, but it isn’t. It is only practical. Practicality demands that we eliminate anything that has no purpose, no meaning, and which is a waste of energy. Any activity, thought or feeling based upon the illusion of separation is such an unnecessary burden. And that is especially true of the way we perceive the body and of the way we perceive the world.”

Sanora Bartels is an independent teacher of Vedic Meditation working with individuals to sustain balance and achieve success in all areas of life. Her training included a year of study that took her from Los Angeles, California to Rishikesh, India to Flagstaff, Arizona.

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