What Does Meditation Mean?
Meditation fundamentally means pulling back from the world a bit and going inside to gain a larger perspective on our world. To disconnect a bit from the ego/mind part of our brains which is constantly chattering on about what’s going on in front of us and what the goings on mean. Settling into the present moment, out of time in a sense, where the past and the future are less concerning.
Our Master Teachers have all pointed to going “within” as the way to find a higher road of life experience and mastery. Buddha would say it is a way to transcend the mental suffering we all have over the meaning of this frantic world we live in.
Jesus said, don’t look for meaning over here or over there for“The Kingdom of Heaven (Enlightenment) is within you”. Suggesting that to find the experience of the Divine, Higher Consciousness, we must go where that Divine is easily accessed–inside of us where that experience is most available. Within.
Meditation Means a Different Way to Look at the World
For example, for eons of time God has been thought of as being “out there” somewhere. A being who needed to placated in some fashion in order that we be rewarded.to find favor. In fact, no such God exists. Instead, to find God, which I like to call The ALL, to experience Omnipresence, Oneness, the seeking must be where IT can be found and experienced. Within.
What better way to have this experience than meditation. And, I would like to suggest, a meditation process that is designed specifically to go straight to the the experience of the Presence of your Soul or Pure Awareness. In my cornerstone book, The Meditation Book, I offer such a process.
Many contemporary meditation practices focus on trying to wrestle the mind into submission and miss out on the Experience of Heaven altogether unless the practitioner is able to reach a place few reach—Enlightenment. It ‘s not that hard. Finding the Within place is such an easy, natural place, partially because it is the real essence of we are, just waiting to be discovered through mediation. This is the answer to “What does meditation mean?”, it means a path to Self awareness.
What’s to be Found “Within”
It’s by going Within and staying Within for a while that Heaven can be reached. An even more challenging endeavor is to try and maintain the experience of Heaven, or return to that experience while engaging in day to day life. To maintain this State of Mind, this Christ Consciousness, while driving my car, brushing my teeth, or dealing with a cranky child is hard.
However, I have found that by going Within frequently throughout the day my ability to take a Soul dive is strengthening. It’s like lifting weights, the more you do it the stronger you get. Over time I have learned to reserve enough of my State of Mind in almost any situation that I don’t get quite so caught up in the lure of this very compelling outer world we live in.
The second step, therefore, is to not only to go Within, and to stay Within. Be there longer. Grow in the ability to stay There for longer periods of time. To luxuriate in the Now. To have being there become more and more become the “new normal”. This is what I’m experiencing these days, longer and longer periods of time in Illumination. It also helps me cope with life’s challenges from a calmer, more secure, more creative place.
And Then There’s Another Version of “Go Within, Stay Within”
This mindfulness “saying” or exercise “Go Within, Stay Within” implies that permanent staying is possible. Inevitable, perhaps, once we truly have out feet securely on the Path. The greatest number of such I accounts that I have heard of occur in the writings and stories passed down from Indian chroniclers of such things. The Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa (a title meaning “one who has attained the highest spiritual realization”) Yogananda, is full ofaccounts of Hindu spiritual masters finally reaching the State of Mind where permanent Awareness, Christ Consciousness was achieved. (This is the highest spiritual achievement a human can reach).
Tantalizing. I can only take it a day at a time this Enlightenment unfolding. We shall see. Not there yet.
A Personal Story–Trying to Go Within and Stay Within in New Orleans, 2016
Here’s what I wrote at four years ago about Go Within, Stay Within in New Orleans to illustrate the concept in a personal way.
“Reflecting on the past 5 days, I witnessed the many distractions that come the way of humans living and visiting ‘The Big Easy’. My wife’s from New Orleans. We were there for the wedding wife’s niece, also from New Orleans.
The best that money could produce. My favorite part was the “second line” march/dance from the Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed, to Brennan’s restaurant, one of the best in the world. (“Second line” being the New Orleans term for the return from the cemetery to the accompaniment of a rollicking jazz band). White handkerchiefs were waved by the wedding party, traffic stopped, the crowd on Bourbon Street took pictures, and a dazzling time was had by all.
We saw two other parades go by where we were staying near the French Quarter, meandered through Halloween revelers on Saturday, were aware of the Voodoo Fest happening close by at City Park, glimpsed Tulane, the Saints, and bare breasts through barroom windows everywhere. And more drunk people in a concentrated few blocks than I had seen in the rest of my lifetime put together.
The phrase “Go Within, Stay Within” as a mindfulness meditation technique came to me again only days before we left for the wedding. It is hard enough to grok and employ such a mantra in ordinary daily life. In New Orleans, it is particularly difficult.
The distractions were many: the symbols of death and evil spirits, the dancing of the living on the way back from burying the dead, life and the continuation of the species through pledged bonding, children, grandchildren, clans from different parts of the county coming together, love, sex, New Orleans jazz, gladiators, Tigers and Saints, Catholics, Protestants, Voodoo Queens, priests, hobgoblins, spidermen, the Old South, the new South, a revived port city, rivers of alcohol in all directions, and more. A feist for all senses, and the imagination.
I Was Determined
I was determined to “Go Within, Stay Within” to the best of my ability. Doing so paid off, though I would have to admit that the patterns was more like “Go Within, Stay Within” for a few minutes, “Go Within, Stay Within” for an hour or so, meditate despite the crowd of rowdies going by, “Go Within” to view the passing parade of human activity with Higher Consciousness eyes. Then catching myself going “unconsciousness” and sinking into an ego/mind point of view, getting dazzled by the glitter and the glitz.
The interesting thing about taking a mindfulness phrase like “Go Within, Stay Within” and work with it is that it helps to define the filter through which to view and digest life’s details on the fly. With continuous stimulation coming at me, seemingly from all quarters and on all channels, reminding myself of my intention was helpful. When I would go down, the remembrance of and the repeating of the phrase buoyed me up. The more buoyed up I became the better I was at staying centered. The more centered I became the less mentally judgmental I was and the more of an observer I became.
Nothing threw me off for too long. Keeping my discipline of yoga, meditation, and going for a daily run helped tremendously. Temptations to run off down rabbit holes became sources of giggling at myself and where my thoughts go darting off to sometimes. My practice helped me stay focused on the experience I wanted to have, Staying Within, rather than being at the dictates of circumstances and the lure of the 3-dimensional world.
You know, it was more fun this way. Seeing the illumination of the scene, enjoying the Higher Selves of those around me, allowing the wonderful sights and sounds to ramp up my vibratory rate, taking in the buzz of the City, and, as much as anything enjoying being surrounded by music. Music permeates New Orleans, and “NO” has its own particular type of music like no other. Soul jazz bop. With Cajun thrown in. Wonderful weekend.
“Go Within, Stay Within” Applies to Today More Than Ever
In these of pandemic an unrest, using sit-down and mindfulness meditation practices are needed more than ever. These days meditation means more than ever. It is a refuge. A place to relax and rejuvenate. A tonic for a world moving so fast. For me the grass will still need to be cut, the dishwasher will still need to be emptied, the dog walked, and my Book 3, The Mindfulness Book and Book 6, Homage to Spirit, still need marketing attention. Book 4 and 5 won’t write themselves. And this world is in the midst of a major transformation that that require me to stay calm.
“What does meditation mean?” therefore, is “many things”. Things of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, well being. And learning to negotiate the world with Grace.
What do you think? How do you like “Go Within, Stay Within” as a mindfulness exercise? Are you interested in trying it out? What’s your favorite mindfulness exercise? Leave your comments below.
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